I don’t want to suggest that I am one of the only prescient queer men in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. But I did fall in love with modernism in Palm Springs in the 1980s, when you could get a sweet Alexander for well under a hundred grand.
In 2000, when I moved to downtown Oakland, people thought I was mad. Now Oakland is the new Brooklyn. (Maybe the real estate prices will catch up with our vision by the time we retire!)
And then there are the bowties. I started wearing these in high school. During my college years, my pal Michael Ray Nelson advised me to stay away from them, saying, “No one trusts a man in a bowtie.” I tried a few straight ties, but they were, well, too straight. “Don’t trust me” became my motto.
In those days, it was hard to find bowties. I don’t mean pre-tied bowties. Those are just fake. I taught myself how to tie them around my leg just above the knee, where the thigh is about as thick as the neck. That way, you are facing the right direction. An hour invested will result in a lifetime of sartorial pleasure.
Bowties are somewhat easier to find these days, especially with entire websites devoted to them. But if you’re in downtown San Francisco looking for a last-minute birthday present with only a half hour to shop, they are not quite as common as you might imagine. Brooks Brothers still has some. They have supplied old architects for decades. But many of their ties are dull, the rep tie version of a butterfly.
However, they have a few with two kinds of fabrics that are quite sporty. Bought a few of those. Over the years, I have found an occasional one at Hermès, but no luck last week. Headed over to that hippest of haberdashers, Paul Smith, thinking they must have some, but they said, “We haven’t got our shipment.” Almost bought myself a striped Mini Cooper toy but had to keep going. Since I was on my way to the AIA, I remembered the Hound downstairs in the Hallidie Building. It’s the kind of store people forget about. This one-off men’s store that caters to the independent and slightly anglophile man saved the day with a large collection of beautifully made ties, often paired with pocket squares. Pay dirt.
If you have remembered your partner’s birthday and have time to shop online, check out the gorgeous ties at http://www.etsy.com/shop/thishumbleabode. Our pal Yosh found these. Not cheap, but exquisite fabrics.
Our pal Jill Pilaroscia discovered an unusual shop in Manhattan called Seigo, where they make ties from Japanese fabrics. Although I have never visited the shop on Madison Avenue, I have a wonderful collection courtesy of Jill. Finally they got a web presence at http://seigoneckwear.blogspot.com.
|Jesse Tyler Ferguson|
If you don’t want to spend $60 to $120 on a funny-shaped piece of fabric, there are other options! And you can support social justice at the same time! Bowties are not necessarily queer, but they are not for the fashion fearful. Now the very adorable Jesse Tyler Ferguson from the hit TV show “Modern Family” has started a bowtie enterprise where proceeds support repealing that idiotic DOMA. His ties cost $25.00. You can watch him not teaching how to tie a bowtie, along with other entertainments, at www.tietheknot.org. What could be better? Buying affordable bowties from an adorable actor while supporting a good cause!
Now, go tie one on!