BLEST BE THE TIE

Still a great gift for your Uncle Harry

Before we get to the already highly publicized Christmas-tie question, we thought the times merited a discussion first on the woman-tie question. Why do women compliment a man’s tie more than they compliment any other thing adorning his body?

It doesn’t make sense. A guy shows up at the office in a nice suit and a woman walking by says, “Nice tie.” The man wants to say, “Hey, what about my damn $400 jacket?” For an item that hangs about the neck, serving no purpose except to catch mustard spilling out the sides of a hamburger at lunch, ties are very closely observed by women. A woman, in fact, who has a hard time initiating a serious discussion is never afraid to look a man straight in the tie. It’s an impersonal, but perhaps challenging, way to get to know someone.

Which gives us an excellent segue back into the Christmas-tie question. Why are we so amused at the practice of giving ties to men at Christmas? Some people snidely suggest the only reason ties were invented was so we would have something to give our uncles for Christmas. But the problem is that we have made so much fun of ties as presents at Christmas that we don’t give away ties as much as we used to.

This is patently absurd. Number one, they’re easy to wrap. Number two, ties reflect personality as much as any other item of clothing and thus should be treated seriously. Wrote Oscar Wilde, “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.” See what we mean? (We would have used a reference from an even more serious writer like Shakespeare, but they hadn’t invented ties back then.) Anyway, choosing the perfect tie is as difficult as writing a man’s biography. This is a great opportunity and one that people should again accept.

With so many choices these days, buying a man a tie is no easy task. There are the European-styled, colorful, free-form pattern ties at Hippo-lyte and Beylerian Paris. There are Che funky, conservative banker-real estate broker-lawyer ties consisting of a repetitive stripe. These you can find at Mark Shale. And then there are the great geometrically patterned ties, and the ties with patterns made up of some hunted animal, like a pheasant or duck. These are available, of course, at Brooks Brothers. The current rage, incidentally, among the former preppie-now-yuppie Dallas social set is to wear a tie that has the same pattern and colors as the suspenders.

Most importantly, a tie is a good way to get an otherwise reserved man to show a little color without going overboard. For a banker, a yellow patterned tie might be a big step. But remember, at least he’ll wear it once, because he knows if someone makes fun of it, he can always say, “I had to wear it. It was a Christmas gift.”

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