Most of you are probably familiar with this expression as code for getting intoxicated, or going on a drinking spree, neither of which I have ever done. If you believe that, then have I got a deal for you! The precise allusion of this phrase – what it is one ties on – is not entirely clear. However, as you can see by the photo above, getting “wasted” is not what this is about; but hey, feel free to have a drink while you’re reading.
I honestly cannot remember exactly when and, perhaps more importantly, why I was thinking about ties the other day, but I have given up on trying to figure out how these things pop into my head, which is a good thing, otherwise I might gravitate towards “tying one on” more frequently! The last time I wore one was for a wedding, just over a year ago, and it came with the tux I rented. The time before that…I have no idea. To say that I have a love/hate relationship with this particular article of clothing is accurate, although it does not really tell the full story. So here it goes.
My introduction to ties begins, where I suspect it begins for most guys, watching my father getting dressed for work. My dad was a bit of a “clothes horse” and had vast array of beautiful suits, shirts, shoes, and, of course, ties. As far back as I can remember, I marveled at the way my dad would make these perfect knots every time he put on a tie, and when I was old enough, he taught me how to make the knot he preferred, and by default it became my preferred knot. I couldn’t wait to be able to actually wear one. That opportunity came when I was in high school and the dress code (remember those!) at this particular school included a tie, not to mention a very ugly school sweater. Most of my friends cheated and had their parents buy them clip-on ties with a prefabricated knot…losers! I was very proud to show up to school with my beautifully knotted tie, knowing that I was the envy of the entire student body. Yeah, right. I can tell you though, that by the time I was ready to graduate I was “over” ties, and I am sure at some point I swore that I would never wear one again!
I feel it is only fair to expand on the idea of my preferred knot because, even though I abhor wearing ties, I still cringe whenever I see someone wearing a tie with that “other” knot. (There are far more than two knots, but these are the most common). I am referring here to the “Windsor” and “Half Windsor” knots pictured below.
Now I fully realize that there is not much difference between these two knots, but I distinctly remember that everyone that sported the Windsor despised the Half Windsor, but those who sported the latter really couldn’t have cared less, usually saying: “Come on, a knot is a knot.” The blasphemy! Back in the day, I was definitely in the Windsor camp.
These days I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. Been that way for quite a while. With the one exception of a job, I had when I was in my teens working in a jewelry store, I have never been employed by any company that required me wearing a tie, and I’ve had more jobs than I care to remember. I may have worked at a place or three that might have frowned if you wore jeans, but that is where it ended. When I was working sales in the sporting goods industry, casual work attire was the norm, and there was a running joke that if you saw a fellow salesman wearing a tie it meant one of two things: He had just attended a funeral, or he had a meeting with the president of a large department store!
The truth is, whether you call them ties, cravats, ascots, neckcloths, or simply bands, most people who wear them, especially for dress up occasions like weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations, important work functions, etc., usually end up either loosening them or removing them completely before the night is over. Don’t believe me. Look at any photos of these events and I am sure you will see Uncle Bob looking debonair, dashing, fetching, handsome, even dreamy in his tailored suit and perfectly knotted tie, Windsor knot of course, but the photos towards the end of the evening will feature Bob with a slight bulge in his suit jacket pocket, which contains his tie. Of course, If Uncle Bob likes to imbibe the “hard” stuff, you may be lucky enough to find a photo of Bob with his tie knotted around his forehead.
You rock, Bob!
Los Angeles 2022