Two quick geeky facts this week.
Today calling something a seven-fold tie often just means that it is multi-fold – more than three folds in the silk. That isn’t because of dishonest marketing or capitalistic shortcuts. Rather, different ways of counting folds have simply become confused. Particularly in Italy, that phrase refers to a technique rather than an actual number of folds.
That can cause problems – one friend ordered ties from a small Italian manufacturer recently that were described as six folds. He ended up with rather chunky 12s. So let’s explain how to count folds and get it straight.
Most normal ties have three obvious folds. If you look at the back of the front blade, the silk has been folded in on itself on either side, and one of those flaps has just been tucked under creating a small, third fold.
Now while retaining the same width of those two sides, the silk can be folded in on itself almost as many times as you like. You just have to start with more silk, and the tie becomes thicker.
The folds go right through the tie (or do on a good one) and can be seen on the back blade, though this might be hard to see as the first folds will be quite high up inside.
You can spot an actual seven fold because for a tie to have an uneven number it must either have a little lip like the three-folds (unlikely on a multi-fold) or the folds must overlap and concertina into each other. Many ‘seven-folds’ are actually sixes, which is obvious because the two sides don’t overlap – it must be a six, or at least an even number.
Then again, many think the best structure for a tie is a six-fold with minimal lining. It’s largely a question of taste – as with Super-100 numbers, bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Next, why there’s nothing wrong with a peak lapel.
The peak lapel comes down to us from formal day wear, more specifically the morning coat that was the standard dress for Victorians in England and formal attire for decades afterwards. The morning coat had tails, a peak collar and was single breasted – though often cut so that it was not meant to be closed.
A dinner jacket should have peaked lapels because it is a direct descendant of this coat, the tails being lopped off to make the look more casual and comfortable for less formal occasions. Equally, the rather overlooked ‘stroller’ jacket style also has peaked lapels. This is a black jacket without tails and without the silk facings of a dinner jacket, but often worn formally with grey trousers and made from a luxurious cloth like cashmere.
As all these examples should show, there is nothing necessarily wrong with peaked lapels on a single-breasted suit jacket. Just bear in mind that they are more formal than notch lapels, and should be treated as such.