The Grenadine Tie - Brief History & Style Guide
Do you believe that all men’s ties were made alike? Do you still have to retreat to YouTube to remember how to knot one? Have you not yet figured out how to fit a suit, let alone choose a tie? Still trying to work out what slacks are? Don’t feel bad! As workplaces and events have gotten less formal and men’s fashion has evolved, the art of wearing a tie well has slipped out of common knowledge. All that means is, by the end of this helpful article, you’ll be filled to the brim with “tie knowledge” and trivia no one else knows. And you know what they say about that kind of self-confidence! The Oliver Wicks team have stepped away from their stitching and fitting for a few minutes to fill us in on everything you wanted to know about the grenadine tie and why you should know it, too.
A quick search will show you that grenadine silk tie and male fashion sophistication go hand-in-hand. So let’s start with the basics. What on earth is grenadine, anyway? As with many things stylish and sophisticated in men’s fashion, it comes back to Bond. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Silk isn’t just silk. It comes in different thicknesses and weights, suitable for various purposes. It also comes in many weaves, which create fabrics that hang, move, look, and feel different. Grenadine is luxurious silk that’s comparatively delicate. It seems far more formal than knitted ties and is very different from your classic silk tie.
The weave pattern is created similarly to gauze, using a jacquard loom. This creates a weave that's open and light but stable, with a bit of stretch. It’s often called a Leno weave because the gauze weave gets a ‘third dimension, where you have warp, weft, and crossing warp yarns. This creates a fascinating texture. Don’t worry if that doesn’t mean much just yet. The takeaway is that it’s an unusual and eye-catching fabric with all the best properties of silk. Because it’s so light, grenadine fabric was popular in tropical clothing and lace fabrics.
To conclude, we don’t really know where grenadine comes from. Some speculate that it originated in Grenada, Spain, purely because of the name. The Italian term translates as ‘English Gauze,’ confusingly. “Grenadine” is also used to describe a type of summer shirt that uses the same weave, too. It’s been used since the 18th century, however.
Today, it’s woven in precisely two mills, both in Como, Italy. That’s if it’s all-silk, of course, because grenadine is a way to weave silk, as well as the fabric itself. It can be made from silk blends and even non-silk materials, such as the wool grenadine tie. They don’t have quite the luxury feel and appeal, however. Bond popularized solid color grenadine silk ties, but they also come in striking two tones.
Before 2010, you would have been hard-pressed to find them commercially at all. Like suit types, ties do cycle in-and-out of fashion. Width also changes with time and trends. Most ties are 7cm/3”, and this size looks good on various lapels. Don’t sweat the width too much. Just use your eye to make it proportionate - you don’t want to look like you are wearing a string or a bib. Anything else is personal taste.
Today grenadine ties are easily available, as they’ve had a renaissance.
Silk grenadine ties have become very popular for men who want to step up their look from the standard silk tie. They’re business-appropriate, while remaining versatile and with character. They say that you're sophisticated but not commonplace. You set standards instead of following them.
However, it was Sean Connery’s Bond who rocketed them to prominence, weathering the Garza Grosse weave with class and style in almost every one of his Bond films.
As we mentioned, the grenadine weave is open and textured, which draws the eye. However, there’s a difference in texturization, and the different grenadine weaves cause this.
Garza Grossa grenadine ties (extra points if you can say that fast three times) have a larger and more obvious texture pattern than Garza Fina. This makes them great for achieving a stylish and more sophisticated look but with a casual vibe. There’s also prometeo grenadine, which is a honeycomb-type weave. On the other hand, Garza piccola (‘tiny gauze’) is an incredibly fine weave. They’re both relatively rare.
Unusually for a piece of fabric, there’s no set ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ side for grenadine fabric. It’s up to your personal preference which look you prefer. One is more textured, and one is lighter and lacier.
So, as you've likely worked out, it’s all about the size and texture when it comes to grenadine weaves. There are even more ways to weave it than these four. However, its scarcity and the rarity of the looms used to make it mean we don’t see them anymore. If grenadine ties catch your eye, know that they connect to historic weaving techniques and have a massive mystique. Who doesn’t like to be a little mysterious?
It’s worth noting that grenadine weaves can snag pretty easily. This makes some men avoid Garza Grossa, but they all have the issue if we’re honest. Simply make sure you care for and maintain your tie, keep your nails neat, and enjoy life. You’ll be fine, and so will your tie.
Now that you know more about grenadine itself, what makes menswear aficionados and the fashion-forward choose them? Silk always has an allure. The sheen is unmistakable, and it screams luxury. It also holds color remarkably well, so you can find anything your heart desires. Grenadine ties, specifically, are eye-catching yet understated.
Think about other menswear for a minute. While outright shine can be a bit gauche, sheen tends to say ‘luxury’ and is associated with formal occasions. Think of patent leather dress shoes and tuxedo lapels. Texture tends to make something less formal - like your professor’s tweed jacket or your velvet oxford loafers.
Grenadine has both. So this tie goes from business wear to a tweed sports coat effortlessly and looks elegant and pricey all the way.
There’s really no wrong way to choose your favorite tie colors. As long as it's not a garish contrast to your suit and shirt, you can experiment as you please. We suggest you note your suit’s undertones, tie color, and match them up. Cool with cool and warm with warm. But if you don’t know where to start, let’s look at some possibilities.
What should you build your tie collection around?
Why navy? It’s dark and infinitely practical. But you don’t want just one tie. So what others can you add to build a small but versatile grenadine tie collection. We’d advise that the next few purchases have dark, rich colors. Some examples?
Once you’ve got a selection of these, you can look at things like a black or silver grenadine tie, as well as color combos and things you love.
If you’re new to the world of grenadine ties, start with solid colors. They’re versatile and practical. But you’ll find that, alongside the different weaves, there are plenty of fun color combos. Broad stripes, in particular, are eye-catching while expressing personality. Remember that grenadine blends are out there, too. Pairing a silk stripe to, say, raw silk, or a cashmere, can create a lot of interest without much flash, making you look suave and sophisticated.
If you’re new to the suit world, this is probably a bit ‘higher level’, but it’s worth a thought or two. The size of your tie knot can do a lot to finish a look. You can use it to make a skinny neck look broader, or vice versa. But the material of the tie will have an effect. Basically, the finer the weave, the smaller the grenadine tie knots are. Garza Grossa is sometimes called a “large-knot grenadine” for that reason. Bear this in mind if you’re the sort of gent who likes to experiment with different types of tie knots.
Most grenadine ties look best with a four-in-hand (our strong preference) or a half-Windsor knot. You may be used to the full Windsor from conventional silk ties, but the chunky nature of grenadine makes for a huge knot, and you might not like the look.
Ties come in lined and unlined varieties. The lining is never really seen; it’s tucked into the tie body. With grenadine’s looser weave, a lining finishes the look and makes it look neater. It also stops your shirt color from showing if you like bright shirts. Especially if you’re wearing it for business, consider a lining.
Having said that, unlined ties give a fantastic artisanal look that fashion lovers can really build on. It’s a wonderful way to add sprezzatura - that ‘certain something’ that marks Italian-influenced nonchalant fashion. But be aware that they are so fine it can make the tie look interestingly unfinished and show folds from your shirt, so if that's going to bother you, skip unlined grenadine ties.
Just in case you needed the option, there’s a style of grenadine tie that is ‘seven-folded.’ The way it’s constructed is changed so that extra layers, not a lining, prevent anything from showing through the fabric. It’s a fascinating look if you want to experiment.
So, how do you wear a grenadine tie? Despite their complex design, they’re remarkably versatile, so you have a lot of freedom. You can also get slim grenadine ties if they're more your thing, though as we said, width tends to change with fashion trends. Solid color grenadine ties go with any business wear you want and can transition well to casual wear. If you'd rather have a design for some personality, just remember the old rule. Don’t go overboard with patterns. You don’t want a patterned double-breasted suit, a pinstripe shirt in a loud color, bright patent leather shoes, and a snazzy tie. Pick one or two elements to make bold, and let the rest serve as the picture frame.
If we could give one tip, however, it’s this. Leverage the grenadine tie to its best power in your summer wardrobe, where its breezy laissez-faire attitude and light touch are perfect. But there are no rules for grenadine ties, so feel free to please yourself.
This will sound obvious, but knitted ties are knitted, whereas grenadine ties are loomed. Knitted ties also often have a rectangular base and are made with yarn. Knit ties are far more informal than grenadine ties, too, so they're less versatile. Some men find that they easily snag, too. While they can visually resemble each other, they are very different.
And there you have it! We hope that this has demystified the world of grenadine ties for you. Which color will you buy first?