Broke and Bespoke

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In Praise of Asymmetry

Symmetry is overrated; few things in the natural world are truly symmetrical. We don’t want our clothing to outwardly reflect any artifice, even if inwardly we may call on them to do so. We often speak of the height of ‘style’ being the man or woman who looks ‘natural’ in his or her clothing.

This is, perhaps, at least partly why I have always found symmetrical tie knots to look a little overdetermined, a little un-natural. To be sure, the bulk of a full Windsor knot can sometimes swallow a person’s face. But beyond the dimensions of proportionality, there’s something more abstract to me about why they don’t look right. Even a half Windsor, though slightly less bulky, looks awkward in its silky triangularity.

I like a tie to move a little throughout the day; to end an evening a tad askew, at an angle that more appropriately matches the asymmetry of the average human face. A Windsor—and its fractional variants—likes to stay put, anchored between the collar points of your shirt like a stony weight, lifeless in its turgid knotting. 

My preference is for asymmetrical knots. With a thick wool tie it might be the standard four-in-hand. Most often, I tie what some call a Knize knot. For particularly light ties, a double four-in-hand is my knot of choice. I never opt for a knotting that will produce a symmetrical triangle. Life is, in reality, too messy and uneven to bother with any pretense towards symmetry. 

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