Links to Class

“John Jackson ties the bow tie so perfectly that people ask him if it’s a clip-on, but he claims it’s “as easy as learning to tie your shoe.” Despite him being partial to the silk butterfly, he’s even more passionate about regular ties, particularly teaching men that there is more to life than knotting a half windsor knot. After all, the devil is in the details.
“Most guys have been taught how to tie one type of knot their whole life,” explains Jackson. “Sometimes other knots might change a whole look.”

Staff Writer

John Jackson loves trains. His home is a mecca of train memorabilia having spent 31 years working for the railways in Virginia. But before hitting the tracks, the Trinity High School alum worked part-time at Rodes, surrouned by suits, ties and every other type of masculine accoutrements. Now, retired from driving locomotives, Jackson is pursuing his other love – worshiping at the altar of sartorial elegance.

At his store, Shirts, Ties N Links, in Westport Village, Jackson, who himself regularly sports a kaleidoscopic mix of colors and materials, is on a quest to bring color to Louisvillian mens’ wardrobes – that he claims are normally more sober and conservative than they need to be.

“Always remember your clothes should never match,” explains Jackson, who co-owns the store with his friend Chuck Ellis. “They should complement each other,” he continues.

“If you’ve got money in your pocket you can buy fashion, but you can’t buy style,” Jackson says. “Style is not something that everyone has, and those who have it didn’t get it overnight.”

Jackson hopes he can imbue some of his own style to customers looking to try something a little more adventurous or those who rely on spouses or girlfriends to shop for them in the past. And if a bright shirt is too much he has more nuanced options up his French cuffed sleeves.

“You can have a very conservative suit, but when a guy throws on a colorful pair of socks, it completely changes their personality and how people see them.”

One of Jackson’s pride and joys is the sock wall in his establishment which boasts over 140 different socks.  Varying in shades and patterns for any taste, especially his own bright and festive tendencies, there is a pair for everyone.

With a store brimming with hand-made English silk ties, as well as pocket rounds and ties with bright European accents, Jackson is sure he’ll be able to help men express themselves. Even if it’s just a simple pair of socks.

“It’s not about fashion it is about style,” he finishes.

Four in Hand

“The best thing about the four-in-hand, or French knot as it’s also known, is that it’s not perfect. The Windsor knot and the half Windsor knot are symmetrical, perfect knots, but this one is not and that’s what I like about it. When dressing, everything does not have to be perfect. Every now and then you want things to look a little bit off kilter and the French knot gives you that.”

Half Windsor

“This is the knot that everyone ties because it’s the first one that they’re usually taught. This is like a windsor knot, but it’s just a little smaller. A full Windsor can sometimes be little bit too big, but with this one you can wear it with a standard collar which will also look nice with a wider collar as the knot is not as big and you get to see more of the tie.”


“This knot means your knot is a lot bigger and it’s very straight across the buttons. Most guys I know prefer to have a windsor knot because it looks perfect and symmetrical. But the biggest mistake is they tie it too far up rather than too far down, so there is not enough tie left when the knot is complete. Just remember – you don’t want your tie longer than one inch below your belt.”

Photos by IGOR GURYASHKIN | The Voice-Tribune