When the multitalented Alexander Olch (he's also a a documentary filmmaker) started designing neckties as thank-you gifts while studying at Harvard, he probably didn't foresee the hobby turning into his own brick-and-mortar store in New York City, but his very first location just opened its doors on the Lower East Side.
We caught up with Olch to talk about how film has influenced his designs, what tie colors and patterns every man should own, and how manners are the most underappreciated element of a man's style.
1. A man defines himself by the things he knows how to do. And knowing how to tie a tie is, in my opinion, critical. The many varieties of knots are not important. I stick with the basic four-in-hand. Variety is better left to the neckties themselves.
2. I don't play favorites with colors and patterns. But a man should certainly own: a solid color, something patterned (plaid, herringbone, or houndstooth), something dark (black, gray, navy), and something of a lighter color. He should also try to vary the materials with something in wool, cotton, and silk.
3. Film is a place for the imagination to run wild. Most things I learned about life, romance, and style, I learned by making and watching movies.
4. The Ziegfeld Theater was always my favorite since my dad snuck me in there to see Lawrence of Arabia when I was little. It's by the far the most glamorous screen left in New York (and also where my first film played in 2008).
5. When searching for new glasses, try them on! It's very easy to be seduced by glasses that look good on the table. But glasses are so specific to your face that the results can be very counterintuitive. It takes me many months of trial and error to get the right pair. I don't think there's any shortcut—just try everything on.
6. Suspenders can be worn very casually to quite formally. I prefer patterns that blend in a bit, rather than stand out from your shirt. The subtlety ends up having an even more striking effect.
7. When traveling, always bring sunglasses. Airports and planes are way more relaxing without the bright lights. Also, pack an eye mask and melatonin for extra-long flights and echinacea/propolis throat spray to keep from getting sick.
8. My idea of a great trip would be to visit the best hardware and stationery stores in every city around the world. It's always a strange thing for anyone I'm with, and sometimes even stranger for the shop owners, but I could spend hours looking at different papers, paper clips, and seeing how they differ from place to place.
9. When you're in a new store, explore, experiment, and look. A man should always be adding to his knowledge, and there's no better way to learn than by exploring.
10. Manners are the most underappreciated component of style. Saying please and thank you—and knowing how to say it in the local language when you're traveling—as well as being gracious and polite to those who help you, these are the things that truly define how you look, in some ways even more than the clothes you wear.
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