I took out a silk shantung necktie earlier this week, looked at it longingly, and put it back. It is simply the wrong time of year for shantung, in my opinion. For neckties also have seasons.
The usual necktie wardrobe begins with year-round ties in silk, just as the initial part of a tailored clothing wardrobe starts best with year-round stuff. But once one has acquired the basics in grenadine, silk knits, satins, foulards and a stripe or two, it becomes time to branch out into specialty ties for both warm and cold weather.
One way to think about seasonal neckties is that they should make up perhaps 40% of the tie wardrobe. In other words, out of a wardrobe of a hundred ties (that may sound like a lot to some but trust me, it isn't), sixty of them should be wearable year-round. About half of the rest would be cold weather ties, including ancient madder, cashmere and wool challis, and the other fraction warm weather things like silk shantungs and linens. And this is because seasonal ties are the best complements to seasonal tailored clothing.
If you think about it, worsted suitings tend to occupy the year-round part of the clothing spectrum, and worsteds are well mated with silk neckties which is why the combination is so prevalent. But as soon as a man expands into tweeds and linens he finds that the texture of a shantung complements the smoothness of a silk jacket (like the combination in the photograph) just as the weight of cashmere pairs well with flannel. This is not to limit seasonal neckties to seasonal suits; indeed, one of my personal favorites is the combination of a cashmere tie and a worsted jacket. But just as cold weather ties are at their best in the gray, summer ties have a place in the sun. And fortunately, the sun will soon be upon us.