Friday, January 09, 2015

The Ties That Blind: Showcasing a Knot Inestimable (nor Much Recently Worn) Tie Collection

Weddings, funerals, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, court appearances, job interviews and extremely professional workplaces.

I believe this to be a fairly comprehensive list of occasions and venues where I would currently wear a necktie.

And as--for good and bad--I have not often had to appear at any of the above, the number of days anyone may see me wearing a tie in a given year can undoubtedly be counted on two hands, perhaps just one.

So it may well surprise many of my closest friends--especially if they didn't know me prior to this century, or even a bit before that--to learn that among various rather useless possessions cluttering my 1-bedroom condo, I likely have the biggest and baddest tie collection of anyone they know.

Emphasis on both biggest and baddest, for it certainly isn't hard to envision that business executives, high-powered attorneys and the like would have a far more impressive collection of "fancy" ties, made of the finest silk and perhaps costing upwards of $100 each.

But even though I have a good number of staid, professional, "nice" and perhaps even "fancy" ties--though even these veer toward loud and tacky--the bulk of my 300+ ties are of the silly, goofy, cheesy and obnoxious variety.

See, way back when, after graduating college Magna Cum Laude in 3 years, the only job I could get--other than remaining a ballpark food vendor--was as a bank teller at the First Illinois Bank of Evanston.

I only worked there for 6 months, because in early 1990 I moved to Los Angeles, where I quickly landed a job as a bank teller, at Union Bank in Encino.

Eventually I got a job as a proofreader in an ad agency, where a daily tie was not a requirement or expectation for men, but I also worked part-time at Kinko's, where a tie was to accompany the standard-issue blue Oxford.

The closet in my Glen Ellyn apartment, 1995-2007
Subsequently I moved back to the Chicago area, and though ties were expected at certain jobs for awhile, I'm pretty certain that since 1998 if not earlier, I've only worn ties per the first paragraph.

And I've only bought a very few since then, simply for the sake of the collection, and can't recall the last time I did so.

But especially as a bank teller, circa 1990-91 (I really don't know the current dress standards for male tellers) I found that wearing distinctive--and yes, often hokey--neckwear was the primary way for me to express any sort of individuality (especially as I've never been one for earrings or tattoos).

I would commonly get appreciative comments from co-workers and customers, and would rue having to repeat myself often, so my collection grew.

And grew.

To the point that buying ties became something of an obsession, even addiction,

But without ardently defending a misspent youth, it was a fun way for me to be creative while my worklife wasn't affording much otherwise.

And even though I rarely have to wear ties anymore, and typically stick to relatively conventional choices when I do, I still think my tie collection is pretty cool.

When I lived in an apartment in Glen Ellyn--a far western suburb of Chicago--from 1995-2007, my sole bedroom had a pair of closets that extended the length of the room.

In one closet, I kept my dress shirts, brandless polo shirts and oodles of t-shirts--still my default fashion preference--and the other (as shown in a photo above) was filled with ties, often 5-10 deep over the closet rod.

At some point, I know I counted over 300 ties, covering a wide swath of styles, subjects, designers, price points and even fabrics.

Because my current 1-bedroom condo in Skokie doesn't feature as much closet space as my Glen Ellyn apartment, I have ties on two hanging tie racks in the closet, exhausting 1-1/2 dresser drawers and a good bit of two modular storage shelves.

And probably 100 or so of my "lesser ties" have been residing in my mom's crawlspace since 2007.

I didn't unearth any of those for this piece, and didn't comprehensively look through all that I have in my bedroom. But what I did find brought a smile to my face...and hopefully yours.

So while knowing that I could have shown an entirely different selection of ties and still had it be "knot inestimable"--and understanding how silly such a large and largely-unused collection is at this point--I'll showcase various groupings of ties below and add some detail in the photo captions.

One of my favorite tie designers was Nicole Miller. Always made of good silk,
her ties have a lot of whimsy, even if they're not always ideal for corporate workplaces. 

I was buying Jerry Garcia ties well before Jerry passed away in 1995;
I probably have a few more but these were all I could quickly locate.

Loving art as I do, I have several art-themed ties. Several, both polyester and silk, are made by the Ralph Marlin company,
famous for their fish ties (I have a few). The 4th tie from the right is by a contemporary artist named Linnea Pergola.

When it comes to ties celebrating cartoon characters, I probably have another batch just this large.

You might not think rock 'n roll and neckties go together, but here are some examples that prove otherwise.

A few ties in a sports vein; the "Bat Tie" in the middle may well be my very favorite,
but the two Michael Jordan ones are pretty cherished.

The Frank Thomas tie at left is also in the Nicole Miller photo above, and could obviously have been
grouped with the sports ties. But it is signed by the Big Hurt, and my two Guy Buffet ties were
autographed in person by the noted artist, making this a pretty select but special grouping.

A variety of ties across different categories. The 1st, 3rd and 8th ties from the left, as well as the Dinnerware Tie and the Sunglasses Tie in the photo atop this post, and the Zipper Tie below represent the late designer Vicky Davis.

Another intermingled assortment. The Bird Tie, 4th from the right, was one of my earliest acquisitions and is a longtime favorite.
It's from designer Perry Ellis, as is the American Flag tie in the photo above and others I own.

In 2000, I attended the wedding of my longtime best friend Jordan, to Erin, in Ireland.
But as I recall, my commission of a Wedding Tie from Jordan's sister, also named Erin,
came several years before that when I was preparing to attend another friend's nuptials.
The two lesser pieces on the right represent my attempts to use Tie Design kits I've been given.

One last smorgasbord of ties, several of which belonged in preceding photos.

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