Bob feels tied down by men's fashion By Bob Karolevitz In a letter to Ann Landers, a disgruntled writer once described the necktie as "man's most idiotic invention since virgin sacrifices."
I won't carry it quite that far, but I do agree that the useless bit of attire that we males adorn ourselves with is devoid of all practical value.
Actually we can blame it all on 17th century Croatians. It seems that when a regiment of Croat soldiers came to France in the mid-1600s, they wore silk kerchiefs which King Louis XIV– he of the multiple mistresses–thought were pretty cool.
He and the faddish French adopted a similar neckpiece which they called a cravat (which is French for Croatian); and from that borrowed fashion, today's necktie evolved.
I can understand the reason for shirt, socks, pants and underwear, but neckties, from the beginning, have been a lot like rooster feathers: for show and not for utility. You've got to wear one to look successful in business, to go to church and to attend funerals.
Why? Because it's tradition, that's why!
Necktie fashions have undergone almost as much change as women's skirts. Through the years there have been narrow ones, wide ones, knitted ones, somber ones and garish ones. There have been those that glow in the dark.
In my closet I've got more out-of-style neckties than currently acceptable ones. I keep holding on to them, thinking that they might be fashionable again someday. Phyllis wants to throw them out, but I resist.
"Can't you make a crazy quilt out of them?" I ask.
From her not-on-your-life reply, I gather that my idea was not a favorable one. I also didn't make any points with her when I told her about the gal who made a bathing suit out of 14 of her husband's old ties.
Her friends agreed with her that it was a strikingly creative suit, but when she wore it in the water for the first time, the ties all came apart because they were just basted and not permanently sewn.
Needless to say, Phyllis will not be making a necktie swim suit, basted or not!
Bow ties were once a mark of distinction, especially for college professors. The clip-on tie never caught on with the purists.
I'm not advocating a necktie revolt, but it does seem that what the Croatians started some three centuries ago should eventually go the way of the lady's bustle. All those thousands of hours men spend before a mirror trying to get a knot properly adjusted could well be spent more productively.
On the other hand, I'm afraid that the new age of male vanity will probably lead to more flamboyant ties to go with earrings and colored hair.
I'll probably go on wearing a tie when the occasion demands it, but I find myself envying the guys who flaunt tradition with an open collar. Maybe they'll come up with a Neckties Anonymous organizations for conformists like me. Every time we would feel compelled to put on a tie, we could just call a N.A. member and he'd give us the gumption to throw custom–and our ties–to the wind.
In the meantime, though, I think I'll just keep what I hope are the currently fashionable cravats on my rack because Phyllis says so, and they are not yet ready for the crazy quilt pile.