Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

New ties

For the first time in many years, I bought a couple of new neckties. I don't have a digital camera, so I can't show you the actual ties, but one was a magenta color pretty close to the one pictured far left, though with a busier, more abstract pattern. The other was in contrasting blues, pretty close to this origami necktie. (Origami necktie???) In shape and width (but not pattern or color), my ties were both like this Prostate Cancer Awareness necktie .

What strikes me about the width of the ties is not that they make me aware of prostate cancer -- they don't. Though interestingly, I once heard a comedian comment that the function of the necktie was to promote awareness of the male crotch, inasmuch as the tie is essentially a big arrow pointing straight down there.

No, my new ties made me think of nothing so much as the neckties of the 1970s. Certainly, the colors today are better than in the 1970s, which would have featured brown and orange or else bold contrasts, but in terms of width and shape, it's flashback to 1974.

My new ties also make me feel old. It's not because they remind me that I was old enough to be wearing a tie in 1974, but something more subtle. In 1974, my dad wore relatively narrow ties -- he did not get "hip" to wide ties until about 1980, when they were being replaced with the narrower "power ties" of Wall Street fame. Meanwhile, in the early-mid-1980s, I cleaned out dad's collection of narrow ties for myself ("you're not going to wear these anymore, are you dad?"), as well as his old bowling shirts, which all matched up nicely with my 1950s era thrift store sport jackets.

The reason I feel old is the mental process that has kept me from buying new ties for some time. I think, "I'll just keep wearing these kind of middling-width ones, because the 'fashion pendulum' will soon swing back, and I'll be right back in the game -- with a couple of extra bucks of spending money in my pocket to boot!"

Thus, the old feeling. Like my dad, I have become that guy who is unable or unwilling to keep up with the fashion trends. They do always swing back: 1940s - wide lapels, 1955-65 narrow lapels, late 1960s to late 1960s, wide lapels, 1980s narrow lapels, 1990s -- 60s style three button jackets, etc. It's all manipulation to get you to keep buying stuff. Those damn young fashionista whippersnappers!

This illustration demonstrates my point. The short wavelength at the bottom represents the pendulum swinging fashion trends -- wide tie, narrow tie, wide tie, narrow tie. The increasingly longer wavelengths above illustrate a man's ability to change his personal fashion as he gets older.

Note that there will be moments where the older guy's personal fashion will intersect with the hip new fashion trend. My dad's wide ties are now back in, so this is just the right moment for him to begin sporting some mid-width ties. Maybe I could trade with him.


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