When they were teenagers, my two boys often searched through my tie collection to find something they’d like for a special occasion or for church. It was flattering to think they might consider one of my ties to be worthy for such purposes.
A few of my ties even turned up missing when they went to college. Again, no problem, made me proud to think they weren’t afraid to take a piece of home to their dorm room.
For 40 years, I wore a tie to work essentially every day. Even after my TV days were over, I wore a suit and tie when working full time at the newspaper. It was my uniform, in a sense, and I didn’t feel properly dressed without it.
Now that I’m semi-retired, there are more than 80 ties hanging in the closet, and it’s been more than three months since one of them was around my neck.
There was a time I spent a considerable amount of energy choosing the various stripes and colors that I wore. I’d visit many of Charleston’s finest men’s stores looking for something that appealed to me and would look good on camera.
Understand that this was long before you might just Google “Ties ‘R Us” and have a few delivered to your front door.
I took pride in the quality and often purchased stripes, solids and prints in every color of the rainbow. I also took advantage of sales and it felt like Christmas when one particular high-end clothing store held its annual clearance sale every August. Sometimes, the owner would let me in the night before to grab a few before the bargains were picked clean.
Now that my boys are adults, they’ve graduated to their own taste in clothing, and it doesn’t happen to include my ties. I’ve given some of the neckwear to co-workers and donated a few to various charitable organizations. I’m seldom in a suit and tie anymore, except for special occasions and church.
So there my ties hang, waiting to make their statement or merely compliment the chosen ensemble. They’re a part of me that’s tough to discard.
But is this now my father’s closet and do I need to admit these silk adornments I once cherished and put on daily display are no longer in style?
Are they clearly too wide, not hip or current? Did I just date myself by using the word hip?
For most of the last decade, skinny ties have been in vogue. Tie styles come and go. When I was in college, back in the '70s, ties were so wide they resembled an upside-down slice of pizza hanging from the neck.
Classic or trendy?
Fashion magazines indicate today’s safest tie should measure between 2-3 inches at their widest. No tie should be wider than 3¼ inches. Just to satisfy my own sense of self, I took a tape measure to my closet last week.
There were a handful that measured 3½ inches. Most were 3 inches and there were a couple recent purchases that were just 2 inches. They looked so out of place.
According to some recent research, a wider tie conveys a conservative and classic style. A skinny tie is more youthful and trendy. And to top it all off, Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine indicates the wider tie is creeping back in style. It’s trending, as we like to say.
I think fondly on those days when I’d share a tie with one of my boys. It created an unspoken message of revealing ties that bind and discovering knots that would hold true with distinction.
Maybe my tie collection is not as out-of-date as I feared. Could it be the real culprits are the lapels on my suits? I’m headed back to the closet with the tape measure.