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Surf's up! Aleks Cvetkovic dives into this season's nautical prints.

I’ve a confession for you: until recently, I couldn’t get my head around ‘novelty’ prints. Perhaps it’s my Anglo-Serbian heritage, but I’ve always struggled to identify with the idea of a tie with something literal on it: it’s too ‘English public school’ for the Eastern European in me.

But, if there’s one brand that can convince me otherwise, it’s Drake’s – and I’m pleased to report they have. New for the season, the house has designed two sets of ties with understated prints in soft pastel colours: one print depicts a surfer doing his thing and the other three sailors breezing past on a yacht. Both have a subtle retro flavour, inspired by patterns held in the Drake's archives.

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The character of these ties is spot on for the season ahead – particularly if you’ve not ventured into printed designs before. Part of the challenge in wearing any tie during the warmer months is finding something that channels a sense of summer, and that suggests you’re in tune with the balmy weather. These do that perfectly: the sailors and surfers allude to a sense of sun-drenched fun and sophisticated weekends away on the riviera – put one on and you’ll immediately want to book your next vacation.

The texture in these also makes them a smart choice. Summer ties should look and feel softer than their winter counterparts, and these are printed on a slubby, lightweight silk and cotton blend that feels crisp, but lightweight and breezy – ideal to wear when the mercury rises.

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Now, let’s think about each in turn. The soft shades of blue are understated and relaxed – they’ll pair with pretty much anything – try them with cream, pink or pale blue striped shirts. The emerald greens are similarly versatile and pair nicely with other earthy colours (think chocolate or ecru linen tailoring), and the two mottled navy ties are real gems. Their dark colours and mottled textures lend each design a depth of tone that’s rare in a summer tie. I beg you to dress one of these with Drakes’ pale pink Bengal striped shirt and a mid-grey fresco suit – you will look the business.

As with the art deco prints we discussed before, when it comes to styling these, pay attention to the secondary colours in each tie. The navy surfer is riding a crimson surf board, so pick the colour out in your other accessories. Do the same in the yellow that appears elsewhere, or build out a tonal look with other elements in olive or tobacco. You could even use the navy sailor print tie to work touches of warm orange or red through an otherwise sober business look.

However you choose to wear these, keep in mind that they’re an intelligent choice and embrace their summery character. Pair with linen overshirts, lightweight tailoring, seersucker and cotton. Finish with retro sunglasses, suede loafers and voluminous patterned pocket hankies. The sun’s out after all, so it’s time to have some fun.

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