Shipping to
United States
Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher

The member's club Soho House recently found itself in the British papers when Mr Peter Bingle, the head of a public relations firm, used his blog to publicise the fact that his membership of the club had been suspended. He had, he was told, repeatedly contravened the club's dress code, which discourages the wearing of suits and ties.

It's a dress code that I'm familiar with, because in the past I have been made to remove my tie by the receptionist at the club's East London branch, Shoreditch House. I explained that I was there to eat lunch with Mr Michael Drake, the renowned tie maker, and so ties were, in essence, going to pay for my lunch, but this didn't persuade the receptionist to relax the club's compulsory informality. He explained that "it" would be more comfortable if I removed my tie, although whether "it" referred to me, the people eating lunch around me, or the general ambience, remained moot.

The experience of being told off for dressing too well was strange, and rather insulting, but I didn't realise that it would strike such a chord with men until the story about Mr Bingle broke in the British newspapers. I contributed to stories in The Times and the London Evening Standard, which deemed both the fact that men are being forced by Soho House to dress down, and the fact that the club believes that wearing a tie precludes a man from being either cool or creative, to be controversial. It's a quirk that the club, which is in every other respect a MR PORTER favourite, retains its awkward dress code. Presumably the intention is to discourage City boys, men who work in London's financial sector, from over-running the club, but in 2011 such delicate social engineering calls for a less blunt instrument than simply banning ties.

At MR PORTER we like ties almost as much as we dislike dress codes. What matters most is that a man looks good, and for almost a century men have looked their best in an unwavering selection of clothes - shirt, tie, suit, leather shoes. The cut and the colours might change, but the basic elements persist. Once you've left school this is no longer about toeing the line, or conforming. Rather it's about finding a style that works for you, showing the people around you that you respect them enough to make an effort, looking your best and feeling good.

If you're physically uncomfortable wearing a tie then your shirt doesn't fit, and if you just don't feel right in one then we suggest you look again at the selection available. Between chambray cotton, fuzzy wool and knitted silk there's a selection of casual styles that convey insouciance just as eloquently as an open collar. Add a knitted tie to a pair of jeans and a button-down shirt and you don't look any less relaxed, you just look better.

In the complex language of style the type of tie a man wears speaks volumes. Switch a traditional printed silk tie for a striped knitted version and your entire outfit is transformed, from safe to spritely. A man needs a wardrobe of ties, in different colours, fabrics and textures, because the tie has a big effect on the way he looks, even if nothing else about his outfit changes.

Ten ties worth tying