Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I’ve managed to get through most of my life without wearing ties. Not that I don’t appreciate this element of traditional menswear. In fact, rummaging through my books recently I came upon a most informative book on the subject. It prompts me to share tie lore, some of it old boy, other of a more personal nature.


The Book of Public School Old Boys, University, Navy, Army, Air Force & Club Ties, introduced by James Laver, Seeley Service & Co., 1968. Both and list it. The book has become rare and highly collectible.

James Laver’s book is an identification guide to what he calls “a number of the best-known ties of Britain, as well as some from Commonwealth countries.” That it has photos of a total of 749 different patterns substantiates this claim.


A quarter page of Ties. From left to right: 1 King Henry VIII School, Coventry; 2 & 3 King William’s College, Isle of Man; 4 King’s College, Tauton; 5 King’s College School, Wimbledon; 6 King’s School Burton; 7 King’s School, Canterbury. Of this last: “Perhaps the oldest school in England, founded A.D. 600 approx. by Augustine. Old boys include Somerset Maugham, Christopher Marlowe and William Harvey (discoverer of blood circulation).”

The neat part is that each tie gets an accompanying paragraph describing its organization’s origin, history and place in British culture. For British “public” schools, i.e., what we’d call private ones, Laver offers names of some “old boys,” that is, personages passing through these institutions.

My copy of the book is special, in that it also has notations by friend Innes Ireland ( Two of the ties were part of his wardrobe—for appropriate reasons.


Among the Regimentals. From left to right, 1 Royal Regiment of Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery; 2 Corps of Royal Engineers; 3 Royal Corps of Signals; 4 Household Brigade of Foot Guards; 5 The Royal Scots; 6 The Royal Highland Fusiliers; 7 The King’s Own Scottish Borderers (25th Foot). Of this last, in his own hand, “Hoots mon… & up yer trews [trousers], lt. Innes Ireland, K.O.S.B.”

When I was a kid, my interests in model building and motorsports were encouraged by English magazines on the subjects. I was duly impressed by images of model builders and motorsports enthusiasts invariably wearing ties.


An advertisement from Eagle, 5 December 1952.

This was especially striking when I was growing up because a tie meant someone was getting christened, graduated, married or buried. Even after I was teaching at the College of the Virgin Islands (, I had a tradition of wearing a tie only when the Governor visited the campus. (My kids would chant, “Daddy’s got a tie on! Daddy’s got a tie on!”)


Among the Regimentals and London Clubs. From left to right: 8 South Staffordshire Regiment; 9 The North Staffordshire Regiment; 10 Special Air Services; 11 The Parachute Regiment; 12 Army and Navy Club; 13 The Bath Club; 14 Buck’s Club. Of 11 in his own hand, “Ye need tae get a bit of slipstream up yer arse! lt. Innes Ireland, 1st Batt The Parachute Regt. late of the K.O.S.B.”

Rob Walker ( often wore a kerchief knotted and tucked in, similar to an ascot, a sporting British variant of the tie. I’ve been known to wear one, more or less celebrating Rob’s sense of style. I recall the first time I tried it, when wife Dottie said, “What’s that around your neck?”

“It’s a kerchief, you know, like Rob wears.”

Wife Dottie paused for a moment, likely trying to think of something polite to say. She chose, “Rob… has a very long neck.”

It’s no wonder I rarely wear ties. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

5 comments on “OLD SCHOOL TIES

  1. Bill Urban
    May 31, 2013

    Dennis, your copy with insightful notations is certainly is a keeper. Hail Britannia and all that, but this story reminds me of the work attire of my earlier days. way back when truck salesman used to wear ties – way back here in the eastern states – we called them fan belt testers.

  2. Pingback: Pruhované a vzorované kravaty, které mluví | Blog Pánské pasáže

  3. Liam Butcher
    January 16, 2015

    That looks like an amazing reference book!

    I don’t suppose it features Bablake School, Coventry in there?

    • simanaitissays
      January 16, 2015

      Hello, Liam,
      Indeed, it does. Founded about 1344 by Queen Isabella, re-founded in 1560 by Thomas Wheatley. Bablake Old Boys’ Association (Old Wheatleyan) founded in 1902. Two ties are shown: Both with blue ground, red/thin gold stripes; one with other gold/thin red stripes, the other with red/gold shields.

  4. Pingback: » Pruhované a vzorované kravaty, které mluví| Pánská pasáž

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