Traditionally seen as the attire of the super suave and dandy, the Ascot is the gentleman’s accessory to lift your style to the next level. This super stylish accessory is perfectly timeless and irresistibly cool. Why then, do so many men find it intimidating to wear? In this guide I will show you why to wear them, How to wear them, and where to buy them. Why? Because to be different you used to choose a bow-tie. Now they are everywhere. If you want to look stylish and original, the Ascot is the next big thing.
What is an Ascot?
Traditionally an Ascot cravat was only worn with morning dress. The name originates from the famous Ascot horse races where dressing up in your finest was order of the day. Today the Ascot has evolved into a stylish, but far less formal form of neck-wear. Less formal even than a traditional neck tie, but still formal enough to still be called a tie. An Ascot is made, tied and worn in similar ways to the more conventional necktie, but with enough differences to make it uniquely special.
Remember how a few years ago the only people who wore bow ties were those who wanted to be a bit different, but today bow ties are very much in the mainstream? If you are looking to make an impact and stand out today, you don’t choose a bow tie, you choose an Ascot. You can dress up your smart-casual/business-casual work wear. You can also dress up your casual clothes and denim. An Ascot is a really versatile addition to your wardrobe. If that wasn’t enough, if you choose carefully, you can even find reversible Ascots to double your opportunities to wear them.
How to wear an Ascot.
For casual wear you can smarten up your denim jeans by wearing a dress shirt and sport coat. If however, you add an Ascot, you will lift the style to a level befitting a modern gentleman. This look is great for classy day wear and stylish evenings out.
For a different look at work, many offices are loosing the suit jacket and neck tie, having the shirt open. By adding an Ascot here it will keep you smart, but will add a dash of stylish fun. It’s a very continental look that takes confidence to wear, but is rewarding for those who are looking to be a bit different without resorting to a bow tie which in my opinion are becoming far too common to be different.
Buying an Ascot
The rise of Internet shopping has meant that niche items like Ascots, which were once hard to find, are now only a click away. An Ascot is the perfect item to buy online, once you find a quality manufacturer. I can personally recommend www.Ceravelo.com from the quality of service I received when placing an order recently.
Ceravelo produces beautiful hand finished Ascots made from gorgeous silks and other elegant fabrics. When I recently decided to add to my neck-wear collection, Ceravelo took all the pain out of the purchase. In just a few clicks I had found the perfect Ascot from a selection of dozens and placed my order.
In my quest to find out more about Ascots I discovered Ceravelo, a company dedicated to providing quality Ascots. All are unique and hand finished. I spoke with co-founder Steven Arevalo to find out more:
TM: Ascots are quite a specialised product so how did Ceravelo come about?
SA: In 2009 I was introduced to the ascot tie by a good friend of mine. I wanted to incorporate them more into my normal dress but found that the selections online and in stores were limited, even in a big city like San Francisco. The ones I did find reminded me of designs my grandfather would wear. And although I admire the sophisticated dress of the older generations I realized there was a large gap in the market for a more modernized style ascot.
TM: Are you seeing a resurgence in the popularity of Ascots?
SA: I’m beginning to see a heightened curiosity indeed. I feel like my senses are tuned towards anything related to ascots and there are many indicators that suggest this resurgence. Just the other day as I was walking down Post St. near Union Square I passed in front of the Prada store and noticed one of their mannequin’s dressed in an ascot tie for spring. Friends send me emails and sometimes pictures when there’s an ascot sighting from cities like New York, Milan and Tokyo. I also use web analysis tools to track the number of global and local keyword searches for terms like: “ascot,” “ascot tie” and “how to tie an ascot.” The results of these search terms have fluctuated since I’ve started tracking them but nevertheless, the trend is increasing.
TM: where has this popularity come from?
SA: To be honest, I have no clue. I would chalk it up to the cycle of fashion. I explain it in the History page of the Ceravelo website as a nostalgia for the ascot that takes a mysterious turn from being a joke toward evoking warm feelings from the past. As I mentioned above, I personally admire the gentleman of earlier decades who wore the ascot with a certain bravado and sophistication. I feel like successive generations can leverage that look and modernize it to fit our personal styles.
TM: why do some men find it difficult to wear ascots?
SA: I think some men find it difficult because they allow the stigmas to impede any curiosity. I read many discussion threads from various style sources and quite often I see comments that are fueled by the pretenses that ascots carry. Fashion, in my mind, has always offered the individual a form of free expression. The ascot tie should be no different. Ceravelo attempts to directly counter these stigmas by presenting the ascot in a more casual light and with diverse options.
TM: I find men don’t know where they could wear an Ascot, do you have any advice?
SA: If you’re thinking of wearing an ascot but have some doubts my recommendation would be to try it out at a wedding or even a company holiday party. Most everyone will be dressed with upscale attire so you won’t immediately stand out and draw any awkward attention. It’s a great replacement for the traditional tie. I would recommend an ascot tie that blends in rather than stands out for the first run and suggest that you wear it low around the neck with medium volume so that it’s just enough to be noticed when someone is in front of you, not 100 feet (or 30.48 meters ?) away.
TM: Most of your Ascots are 100% reclaimed silk, what does that mean?
SA: Reclaimed, repurposed and vintage are the adjectives that we frequently use to differentiate our product. What this me truly means is that we search far and wide in a variety of retail and wholesale markets specifically for materials that were once used for some other purpose. It’s our best source. When we first began our fashion endeavor we found that silk manufacturers were not only rare but often times required that we order runs of 100 yards or more. As a fashion start-up we made a made a conscious decision to focus on quality rather than quantity. Thus we turned our business into a local model and sourced directly from places we could find quality material with a unique and modern design.
TM: Hand finished?SA: As previously mentioned, we made a conscious decision early on to focus a great amount of effort on the detail of our product. All of our ascot ties are reversible. This means that each side is an individual piece of fabric that we procured and somewhere along the line were able to match it perfectly (to our taste) with another complimentary side of fabric. If it is required, we deconstruct the old forms. Next we cut the shape to match our custom pattern, hand pin, hand sew and add the finishing touches such as ironing the pleats and sewing the label.
TM: So I’ve bought my first Ascot, I have no idea how to tie it. Where do I go for help?
SA: We can help you with that! In fact before Ceravelo even launched its website we produced a “how to tie an ascot” video to help promote the business.
TM: Why should we buy our Ascots from Ceravelo?
SA: We’ve done our research and know what the competition has to offer. We spent nearly 2 years in the R&D phase prior to launching our final product to market and made sure that we exceeded all bench marks beyond any measure. We truly believe that our product carries great value for the dollar and with a current selection of over 150 different ascot ties you are bound to find at least one to fit your liking.
TM: what does the future hold for Ceravelo?
SA: We’re hoping for great things in our future. With the effort we’ve put in we’ve already been featured at large department stores such as Nordstrom and specialized fashion boutiques like Brooklyn Circus. We have a small but growing presence in San Francisco boutiques and want to continue to expand while remaining true to our mission statement and business model – crafting quality, hand finished ascots.
Thank you to Ceravelo for the inspiration for this post and for use of the images.