When it comes to getting dressed there are a few considerations that I always make such as “Where I am going?”, “What season is it?”, and “What is the weather like?”. If I am getting dressed for a special occasion or an event then I try to dress in a way that shows respect for the event, but more importantly to the host. Seldom do I find myself dressing in a way the expresses how I am feeling that day, but it does happen. This post is about one of those days.
Lately I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. Work has been crazy, dating is hard, and the winter weather is wearing on me as well (This year is in the top 10 for below zero temps for my area.). The stress was building and I could feel myself getting a little more frustrated day by day until I woke up one day and knew that I had to snap out of it.
When I was getting dressed I remembered the tie that I had received from my friend Worried Man (Thanks!). This tie features the Manneken Pis (Which literally translates to Little Pee Man.) a famous landmark in Brussels. The origin of the sculpture is surrounded by multiple legends, but I had given the tie my own Chippesque meaning by renaming it “Pissing in the wind.” I thought that this was perfect occasion to break out the tie.
Me Looking grumpy in a shawl collar.
As soon as I put the tie on I felt a little bit better. I threw a shawl collar cardigan on over top to provide some coverage for the little guy, but because of the historical significance of the tie I was not too worried about being reprimanded at work for it. Throughout the day my spirits were lifted by the tie and I smiled to myself quite a few times as I thought about the subversive meaning that I had attached to it.
Looking back I think that expressing my frustration with my wardrobe was much more constructive than keeping it all inside. Instead of declaring defeat I relied on humor for one of its most beneficial uses which is coping life’s challenges and had fun doing it.
I came home to find a package from Tom Nascone at Ivy Inspired waiting for me at my door. I eagerly opened the box to find three handsome bow ties. I had sent Tom three ties that were a bit too wide for me to convert into bow ties and I was excited to see how they came out. I was not disappointed!
This all came about by way of a bad purchase. During one of my many Saturday morning thrifts I found a vintage Brooks Brothers grey herringbone sport coat with all the trimmings. After a few failed attempts to convince myself that this jacket fit me I finally gave in and admitted that it was just too small. It was a great jacket and I wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it. I tried to think who it might fit. The answer was Tom. After a quick email exchange a deal was struck. Tom would get the jacket and in exchange he would convert a few ties to bow ties for me.
This was the perfect trade for me as I have accumulated quite a few ties that are in need of alterations. I rarely buy ties that are over 3.25 inches, but sometimes a tie is just too good to pass up. Due to this I have about 10 ties that are too wide and need to be narrowed (I had them all in box ready to go to Tiecrafters). I want to learn how to alter ties myself as this would be an invaluable skill to have, but I do not want to ruin these great ties learning. I picked three ties out of the box that I thought would make better bow ties than long ties, chose a different bow style for each, and sent them off to Tom.
I am not a bow tie guy. In fact, I have only worn a bow tie once in my life and I want to change that, but I also want to avoid being labeled the bow tie guy. My plan is to mix a bow tie into my rotation once a month. This should break the ice and get people used to seeing me in a bow tie, but not only a bow tie. Tom did a great job on this project and I would encourage anyone that is in need of a bow tie or pocket square to check out his Ivy Inspired store. They are an excellent deal offered by a fine young man.
Lately I have feeling more confident about the way that I dress. I have my New Year’s Resolution to thank for a lot of that. I have been wearing a jacket and tie twice a week for almost a year now. What used to be foreign to me is now very familiar. One of the biggest changes is my attitude towards emblematic, club, or critter ties… whatever you want to call them. You know, ties covered in heraldic shields, upland game, and favorite prep pastimes. I didn’t think that I would be able to pull off one of these ties until I was well into my 40’s, but now I just don’t give a duck. Not a single flying duck!
I have accumulated a few duck emblematic ties even though I am not sure quite why I am drawn to them. The only hunting that I have done is at the grocery store or at my most rugged the famers market, and never for duck. However, I have grown quite fond of them. My best guess is that I have read the OPH (Official Preppy Handbook) one too many times. In celebration of my new found confidence I thought that I should share my little collection of ties, but first I leave you with a few words from the OPH on this very subject.
Straight from the OPH – THE DUCK MOTIF
The duck is the most beloved of all totems. The duck suggests hunting, water, Maine – all the things worth thinking about. The basic duck is the mallard. The most common view of the duck is silhouette, although the duck in flight runs a close second. Three-dimensional decoys are nearly as popular and may appear as lamp bases, planters, doorstops, candlesticks, and paper weights. Ducks themselves – real ducks – may be of little interest. It is the representation of the duck that counts. And the less the object has to do with ducks, the more it cries out for duck adornment. Ducks are stenciled, engraved, embroidered. Embossed, debossed, appliqued, mounted, and otherwise emblazoned on wood, brass, fabric, leather. silver, glass, crystal – anything.
There is no question that traditional American Ivy League style is conservative, but that doesn’t mean that the purveyors of this style had or have no sense of humor. While their sense of humor is not often reflected in their clothing it can be seen occasionally in items such as corduroys emblazoned with critters, motif belts, and most of all emblematic ties.
Chipp Thanksgiving Turkey Tie
There is no maker of emblematic ties as famous for their sense of humor as Chipp Tailors. Chipp made much more than ties and competed with Brooks Brothers, J.Press and other makers of Ivy League clothing in their heyday. However, Chipp was always known for adding a unique twist whether it be a unique jacket lining or patch madras cloth (which they are credited for creating ), but their humorous ties have had the most lasting impact.
Chipp’s Alpha Male Tie
Chipp’s Screw Ewe Tie
Chipp’s not as subtle “Screw You” Tie
A Chipp tie with a Cryptic Meaning (Decoded at Ivy Style)
Chipp is not the only company to create emblematic ties that incorporated tongue-in-cheek humor. The Founder of Alynn Neckwear, Alan Cadan (Learn more here) worked for Chipp for 17 years before striking out on his own (with the help of his wife). Alan carried on the tradition of creating emblematic ties that used the same humor as Chipp did. He created classics such as the “Rat Race” and “D.O.M. (Dirty Old Man).”
Alynn Rat Race Tie
Alynn D.O.M. (Dirty Old Man)
Alynn Male Chauvinist Pig Tie
Alynn I Ran Short Tie
Chipp and Alynn are not the only ones that produced such ties, but they might be the best. Both Paul Winston and Alan Cadan still produce ties at their respective businesses; Chipp2 and Alynn Neckwear. However, to the disappointment of many they do not stock many of these humorous ties anymore, but I do believe that both companies will take on custom projects.
This post combines two, wait, three of my favorite things, which are vintage menswear labels, ties and Robert Talbott ties. I am a sucker for vintage menswear labels (The University Shops & Co-ops) and now that I have a blog I sometimes purchase items at the thrift store just for the label, if the price is cheap enough. However, my first stop at thrift stores is always the tie rack. In fact, 99% of all my ties come from thrift stores and if I find a Robert Talbott tie I jump on it.
First, let me give a bit of back story on Robert Talbott. Robert started his career in menswear selling his wife’s handmade silk neckties to haberdasheries up and down the California coast. In 1953, they opened their own shop in Carmel, California and a second one in 1960. Today the company sells all kinds of clothing, but is still renowned for its ties.
Everyone has their favorite tie maker and Talbott ties are definitely in my top five. While I do not love all of their designs I could say that about any tie maker, but the quality of Robert Talbott ties is what makes them great. On top of that, they almost always knot well. The next time that you are out thrifting and see a Robert Talbott tie I encourage you to pick it up.
I have included a few pictures of my favorite Talbott ties. These ties were all made for local mens shops and the labels are very special to me. If anyone has any info on any of the shops featured on these labels I would be love to hear about them (I am familiar with Cable Car and DH Peer). Enjoy the pics and happy thrifting!