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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bow Ties... Dapper and Dreamy or Dorky and Drippy?

I've always wanted a bow tie.  Not one of those that you get with your rental tuxedo at prom, but a real bow tie that you actually have to knot yourself.  My son, Thomas, a young man who has sophisticated sartorial sensibilities, was kind enough to make this dream come true at my last birthday.

First, I had no idea how difficult it was to tie a bow tie.  In the mirror, everything being backwards, I found myself pulling the wrong ends, loosening instead of tightening the bow...  it was ugly.  Finally, I was able to get things right, and I was quite pleased with the result.  A light blue, silk tie with a small blue and gold design, it was just the understated statement I wanted to make.  In short, I loved my new bow tie.

Now, fast forward to "Elderly Day" at Thomas' high school.  I, personally, have a bit of a problem with the elderly being a target of ridicule and fun during the school's multi-themed spirit week, but I try not to be too serious, and let it go...  Although, I did threaten to write a letter of protest and alert the Grey Panthers, just for fun.  But, to the point...  In the process of looking for his "costume", Tom thought, "What better place to find clothes that befit the aged than my dad's closet?!"  Hmmm, not the impression I try to make with my wardrobe, but what does a 15 year old know about style, anyway?  Choosing a blue cardigan and, painfully, my brand new blue bow tie, he pronounced his costume perfect...  He would look just like an "old" man should look.

I like bow ties.  I always have.  I think that they are distinctive, old-fashioned and a delightfully different way to decorate the neck.  Men don't have all that many choices when it comes to dressing "differently", unless one has the means to invest in a bevy of Saville Row suits, we are expected to dress fairly conservatively.  Also consider the fact that the vast majority of people living in my area wouldn't really know whether one were wearing something remarkable or not.  In Eugene, Oregon, formal can easily mean a clean tie-dyed shirt and the best pair of Birkenstocks (with socks if it's a formal occasion).  Bow ties are one of the areas that individualism might be accepted and noticed.  We've also got the pocket square and socks, but ties are different.  Unfortunately, ties in general are problematic for men.  Ties can be stylish and telling.  They can also be disastrous.  A Sponge Bob tie is never fashionable, but a vintage tie with a story behind it might be.  And, Christmas, or other holiday themed ties, should usually be put in that special place reserved for Christmas sweaters. 

Fred knew how to rock
a bow tie...

Bow ties have a a distinctive pedigree, though.  Look at the Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, even our only professionally stylish president, Harry Truman (a haberdasher in an earlier incarnation).  All were wearers of the bow tie, and all are still considered paragons of male fashion do's.  Of course, one does have to consider the unfortunate example of the late Orville Redenbacher, but I digress.

And so did Frank...  at least in character
for "Guys and Dolls"...

Now, Bogie...  he was a bow tie
man to be sure.
Harry Truman, former haberdasher,
reassures a nation, in a bow tie,
as he takes the oath of office following
FDR's death.
So, what do you think?  Are bow ties a fashion do or don't?  As for me, I am going to try to find more to add to my already "elderly" wardrobe.

Well, this might have just lost
my argument...

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