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I’ve managed to get through most of my life without wearing ties. Not that I don’t appreciate this element of traditional menswear. In fact, rummaging through my books recently I came upon a most informative book on the subject. It prompts me to share tie lore, some of it old boy, other of a more personal nature.
James Laver’s book is an identification guide to what he calls “a number of the best-known ties of Britain, as well as some from Commonwealth countries.” That it has photos of a total of 749 different patterns substantiates this claim.
The neat part is that each tie gets an accompanying paragraph describing its organization’s origin, history and place in British culture. For British “public” schools, i.e., what we’d call private ones, Laver offers names of some “old boys,” that is, personages passing through these institutions.
My copy of the book is special, in that it also has notations by friend Innes Ireland (www.wp.me/p2ETap-14Y). Two of the ties were part of his wardrobe—for appropriate reasons.
When I was a kid, my interests in model building and motorsports were encouraged by English magazines on the subjects. I was duly impressed by images of model builders and motorsports enthusiasts invariably wearing ties.
This was especially striking when I was growing up because a tie meant someone was getting christened, graduated, married or buried. Even after I was teaching at the College of the Virgin Islands (www.wp.me/p2ETap-bf), I had a tradition of wearing a tie only when the Governor visited the campus. (My kids would chant, “Daddy’s got a tie on! Daddy’s got a tie on!”)
Rob Walker (www.wp.me/p2ETap-jU) often wore a kerchief knotted and tucked in, similar to an ascot, a sporting British variant of the tie. I’ve been known to wear one, more or less celebrating Rob’s sense of style. I recall the first time I tried it, when wife Dottie said, “What’s that around your neck?”
“It’s a kerchief, you know, like Rob wears.”
Wife Dottie paused for a moment, likely trying to think of something polite to say. She chose, “Rob… has a very long neck.”
It’s no wonder I rarely wear ties. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013