Ask A Woman: Should a man stray from the standard necktie?
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I’ve got 2 separate questions for you.
1) Any thoughts on alternative neckwear? I wear a suit, shirt, and tie to work 6 days/week, so I like mixing it up a bit. To work I’ll sport the occasional bowtie, and to go out I have a nice red silk ascot. Bit dandy-ish, I’ll admit, but IMO it’s a fun way to mix up the same ol’ same ol’ we’re used to.
2) If you live in the NYC metropolitan area or ever come around on vacation, will you marry me? No? Then maybe we can start small, and I can take you out one night? You seem like a fun date. Very truly yours,
A marriage proposal from a man who wears an ascot? How can I refuse? Generally speaking, I like alternative neckwear. Initially I tried to fit both bow ties and ascots into a single column. FAIL. Neck wear is a heady topic, and there is simply too much to discuss. So this will be a two-parter, Rich. Can I call you Rich?
First we tackle bow ties. Wearing a bow tie (or an ascot, for that matter) requires two essential components, as is the case with most fashion risks: 1) opportunity and 2) cojones. For the former, I think you’re making the right choice–wearing the occasional bow tie for a day to catch a break from the traditional necktie. You do run the risk of looking perhaps a bit nerdy, a bit foppish. But it’s an intentional look so it works.
Men don’t have as many options for variety in dress clothing as women do, so I say mix it up however you can. A short list of some bold men who embrace the bow tie: Brad Goreski (stylist & reality TV darling), Andre 3000, Swiss Beatz, and Indiana Jones (what? he’s not a real person?). You’ll notice that but for Mr. Jones, the choices in bow tie and then accompanying shirt/jacket patterns/colors are all bold and bright. I don’t know how much flexibility you have in your work place with crazy colors, but it seems like wearing a bow tie sort of gives you permission to be zany. Like if you’re going to go for it, go for it. If you do want something more restrained, I love this look–burgundy and gray are such a great color combination.
Zany. You run the risk of looking it.
Other considerations? Pay attention to the size of the bow. Too big and it looks like a costume piece. Shape is important, too. Here Matthew Broderick looks like a weinie because the loops of the tie are too wide (tall?) for his non-existent neck. This is a much denser shape, plus the material and construction are very modern–probably my favorite bow tie look I’ve come across. There are several choices for material–the traditional silk (my favorite), velvet (which strikes me as dated) and even crochet (another look I’m not a huge fan of). Finally, for instructions on how to tie a bow tie, see this clip or this diagram.
Considering you proposed to some crazy virtual chic from the Internets, I think you’re set for the second requirement needed to pull off a bow tie, but a couple pearls for wisdom for you anyway. It’s fine, of course, for you to love your bow ties. But you need to be prepared for other people to go, “whoa, hey, that guy is wearing a bow tie and he’s not my grandpa’s age”. In other words, not everyone will embrace your commitment to atypical neck embellishment. Here’s an example from my life. I wear mostly skirts and dresses, and with these items, I like to wear a variety of different colored/textured hosiery. The other day, someone told me I looked like a smurf. I looked down at my bright blue tights, and it did give me pause for a moment. But I also thought, well, what the hell did I expect? I still like those tights; I’ll still wear them again; that experience just reinforces for me that style should mostly be about me, not about the reactions I might get from other people.
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