Tie One On
Plenty of people are saying it all started with “Mad Men,” the period television drama that winds us back through 1960s Madison Avenue, where product promotion got personal. Admittedly, Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper) and his colleagues cut a lean silhouette in their slim suits and narrow neckties. But it didn’t start with them or the era they portray.
You can find a sleek suit and tie if you check out Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Sean Connery, or Warren Beatty – but maybe that’s going too far back to be relevant. This season, suits are slimmer, sleeker, and the tie is trim. So is the guy who’s wearing it. But, regardless of stature or shape, the tie still pulls it all together.
Justin Timberlake used the look to revive his singing career after a five-year hiatus, returning to the stage with his new hit single, “Suit & Tie.” But he tied it up in a bow, Rat Pack style. While his lyrics and light falsetto go retro, he modernizes his sound with a lot of electronica—just like his signature style: a trench with tie and sneakers, a leather biker jacket, skinny jeans and tie; a tailored suit and a loose Windsor. Straight up with a twist.
Timberlake is now, but he’s not new. And maybe that’s the point. Many men have never stopped wearing ties. They’re willing to shift with the seasons or latest trends and are willing to work a variation on a very traditional look.
Others are just getting into the groove.
“A lot of young tech guys are very interested in clothing, in dressing up, in putting on a tie,” says Jim Ockert, owner of Khaki’s Men’s Clothier in Carmel. “And you know why? Because they never have before. Any young man who has an iPhone, an Apple computer, who drives an Audi and is an engineer for Google is looking for style and fashion in all parts of his life. And he’s coming into my store, asking what to wear and how to wear it, ‘star style.’”
A tie says, I am Ryan Gosling, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Usher.
Khaki’s boasts 1,000 handmade ties supported by 22 different brands from England, Italy, Canada and the United States, including its own private label collection. Wander past its display windows at Carmel Plaza, and the message is vivid: “Tie one on.”
“A lot of guys come into the store,” says Ockert, “knowing as much as I do about ties. They’re doing their research, and they want good, quality ties. These are revolutionary times, giving fashion a very unique purpose and point of view. Timberlake, who’s been out of business for five years, blew it up with a big band and a suit and tie. He took it seriously.”
It used to be if you wanted a job, you wore a tie. Today, at plenty of places, the culture is Casual Friday all week. But that doesn’t necessarily negate the necktie. The guy in a tie has a keen perspective on how he wants to come across, and his tie tells it before he does. He’s not putting together an outfit and then looking for a burgundy tie to finish it off. For him, the tie sets the tone. – Lisa Watson