men’s wear wednesday: the ties that bind

It has been some time since I’ve had the occasion to buy a man a tie. However, I do like to walk around the tie section of a high-end department store. I love how ties are organized according to their place on the color wheel. I love feeling the different textures and fabrics. I love imagining the possible suit-plus-shirt combinations a tie has to offer.

(Maybe all this tie buying love stems from the fact that I love helping a man take off his tie.)

A recent trip to Nordstrom in search of a birthday gift led me to my own little tie epiphany. Ties only come in three pattern options: solid, stripes or paisley.  And within those pattern options, ties are either bold, safe (some might say boring) or ugly.

A tie is the man’s way to distinguish his outfit. It’s his shoes, jewelry, scarf and purse all in one. (Melt my heart if he has a corresponding sock.) The right tie gives a man his opportunity to present himself as more sophisticate, less prep school boy. It’s the one element that can pull together the professional man’s outfit. It’s a chance to be unique. Much like I don’t like to walk into an elevator and run into a woman with the exact same outfit on, I assume a man doesn’t like looking around a conference table and realizing he has on a variation of the same tie every other man in the room is wearing.

I personally like a man who can pull off a bold tie, but I recognize it isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone. If you are in the market for a tie and need some direction, my simple rules are: no skinny ties unless you are a dedicated hipster; no ties that require sunglasses to comfortably look at; and, I’m just going to say it, don’t bother with Vineyard Vines ties. They all look alike.

Oh and one more rule. Please, if you get a grease spot on your tie that won’t come out, you must retire it, no matter how much you paid for it or how much you love it.

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