Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties


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Friday, August 29, 2014

There Is A Lot Less To The English Look Than You Might Expect

One of the things I have never really understood is how a great deal of people who subscribe to the 'English' look tend to frown upon satin over twill and in many instances they opt for muted colours over bright ones as a general rule. People who subscribe to this style of dressing tend to also prefer Harris tweeds in earthy colours, a mix of wool and silk in their pocket square with rather subdued art if any; they talk about ancient madder dyes on forums and love vintage photos of men in wool bow ties. I am not trying to make a stereotype but this kind of gentleman does exist and sometimes they find portions of our collections far too bright and perky for their taste.

However, today I thought I should point out something about two materials that we have worked with and that although they seem very different on the website, when you are up close and personal, the difference is not so great. 

Silk Satin

In the top photo you will see a navy mogador satin silk which you will note the tightness of the satin weave. The satin weave, which merely is a technique by which the weft threads go over the warp once and then under for three, renders a brightness merely because there is less space between the threads for light to be lost. This means more light is reflected which is why the silk appears brighter.


Silk satin magnified to highlight the weave which is shown above in a diagram.

Silk Twill

By contrast, silk twill is woven by taking the weft threads over two warp threads and then under two warp threads. Then on the next row you start the same weave technique but one along in the sequence which in turn creates a a kind of groove on the bias. It's not that much of a difference when you see it in a diagram but the impact is quite high on the final outcome. It is merely this change in weave which allows less light to refract from the silk since it is more porous and more light gets lost within these spaces. The entire so called "English" look is merely a function of less light being refracted by the cloth owing to a change in the weave. The colours that are used to dye a silk don't much change between dye houses and although it is possible for finishing techniques to add or subtract lustre from a silk, the quintessential part of it all is owing to the fibre chosen (eg wool versus silk) and then the weaving technique on which it is woven. The great example below is a silk twill in 50 Oz which might lend itself to the so called "English" aesthetic because it was printed in England on silk twill and looks slightly more dusty and subdued than if it had been woven on a satin warp loom in Italy. 

Don't be fooled by those that suggest you don't understand menswear if you don't follow the English look, sometimes it's just a masquerade for the fact that there are more silk print houses in England than there are weavers of silk which is contrasted by the Italians that have more weavers than printers (to my current knowledge).


Silk twill which is woven slightly differently to silk satin but which has a huge effect on how the cloth looks and feels in the hand. 

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