c.2013 New York Times News Service
c.2013 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — When "The Great Gatsby" opens in U.S. movie theaters May 10 and starts the Cannes Film Festival five days later, it could help revive some fashionable looks from the Roaring 20s.
The rogue businessman Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is seen wearing shirts whose collars are closed by a tie pin. For some contemporary businessmen, however, the tie pin never went away.
''Recently a young friend asked what the tie pin was for," said the fashion designer Tom Ford, who is 51 and for more than 30 years has worn a pin that sticks through his collar and under a tie. "I simply replied that it was a style affectation, as there are so few ways that a man can accessorize."
The accessories that go through, under and around the collar, as well as the shape of the collar itself, are among the few real choices available for men in business suits.
Recognizing this, Ford for the last two seasons has included the rounded-edged club collar, a relic of the early 20th century newly fashionable, in his namesake men's wear collection.
Not that the style of Jay Gatsby — who as imagined by F. Scott Fitzgerald made his fortune in bootlegging and trading stolen securities — is a look that works in all business settings.
''Club collars and pins are a bit too edgy for the finance sector, at least at large banks," said Gregor Feige, a banker on Wall Street. "Most of the time it's just a balance of being reasonably fashionable without drawing comments around the office."
Additionally, with a variety of collar options available (others offered by Ford, for example, include spread, cutaway, high-stand cutaway, pointed and tab) one must know how to put the right tie with the appropriate collar shape.
''It is important to note that certain tie knots suit certain collars," said Toby Bateman, buying director for MrPorter.com, a global online men's retail site based in London.
''If you work in a more creative line of business, then you can be more relaxed with your choice of collar and how you wear it," Bateman said. For example, a point collar shirt with a four-in-hand tie knot is, in his opinion, "smart but shows you have some individuality."
If one were to choose a spread collar, for instance for a more "formal business meeting," Bateman suggests a double Windsor knot. The wide symmetrical knot "will give enough bulk to fill the 'spread' of the collar," he said.
Nevertheless, the size of that Windsor knot has shrunk for some wearers.
''Most folks in finance default to a single Windsor knot on an Hermes or Ferragamo tie," Feige said.
That, he added, is "generally more subtle than what you'd see in the '80s," alluding to a time when boxy-cut shirts, wide collars and heavily knotted ties were standard.
Feige said he had noticed slimmer shapes and a "more European sensibility to dress" in the office.
Collar changes may very well be attributed to men's growing interest in the size and fit of their garments.
''The biggest change in men's wear in the last 10 years has been fit," said Nick Wheeler, the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, a company in London that makes shirts.
Wheeler, who has designed shirts since 1986, said he had seen an increase in demand for smaller collars. "Extra slim fit has seen rapid growth in the last couple years," Wheeler said, "and we have now reduced the collar size on these shirts."
It is not just a smaller collar, though, that Wheeler is noticing in his customers' preferences. He said demand for pin collars and penny collars had increased sharply.
Inevitably, with the rise in popularity of certain collar shapes, others have declined.
Demand for the Winchester collar, also known as the contrast collar and synonymous with the 1980s businessman uniform, has dropped in recent seasons for the Charles Tyrwhitt company. Feige, the investment banker, would agree.
''I don't wear contrast collars and personally don't like them," he said. They "feel a bit too Gordon Gekko to me," a reference to the character in the 1987 film "Wall Street" played by the actor Michael Douglas.
So how is the businessman of today supposed to make an executive decision on these matters?
''My personal advice," said Bateman of MrPorter.com, "would be to wear an appropriate-sized collar and a tailored shirt for the right setting or occasion."
''Unless," he quickly added, "you are Italian, when it is totally acceptable to demonstrate 'sprezzatura'" — studied dishevelment — "which manifests itself through a crooked necktie, or an unbuttoned button-down collar and so forth."