The beau bow
One in my wide network of informants sends word that Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle is pondering a new year’s resolution to begin wearing a bow tie.
This is, of course, a highly praiseworthy ambition, one worthy of anyone who aspires to be a gentleman. Here is some help.
Mr. Carroll does quote the condescendingly disparaging remarks on the bow by Warren St. John of The New York Times: “To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.”
I can endorse that “aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.” Look at the way most men dress. Are you going to apply to them for fashion advice? D’you remember the 1980s, when men were all clones of John T. Molloy, dressed in blue suits and those peculiar yellow neckties?
The bow tie has the weight of tradition behind it. Wearing it demonstrates a level of dexterity. And some find it practical; when I worked at The Cincinnati Enquirer, the paper ran an article on bow ties quoting a gynecologist who said that bow ties were favored in his specialty because “they do not swing forward into the materials.”
And when you have occasion to dress formally, are you really going to put on a dinner jacket along with machine-tied neckwear? Have you no shame?
Step up, gentlemen. Mr. Carroll has set an agenda for you for 2011. And it’s one that you might actually be able to bring off.