Just Ordering Appetizers

Bow Ties from the Brown University Book Store

The bow tie is Latin.  People still read it when they come across it, but no one speaks it anymore.   I am in and out of Manhattan twice a week, I live in Bedford, and my free time is spent in Rye and Greenwich and the last bow tie I saw other than my own was on my pastor last Christmas.  If bow ties can die in Ivy, can anything be born?

Cultural appropriation came up this week while we were talking tartans.  There is a difference between cultural appropriation and the unjust profit from unattributed culture.  Appropriation is a silly term.  It connotes theft but not really.  I hear it to mean:  you took this and while there is no law against you taking it you really shouldn’t have because it belongs to an otherwise penalized group.  First, and judging from yesterday this is going to go unheard but I will say it anyway so that I can cite it later when I get criticized for being pro-cultural appropriation, the disrespectful use of anything cultural is insulting, offensive, stupid, and the sign of a weak mind.  The use of a culture’s “product” for profit without attribution is disingenuous.  Elvis is accused of that, but he didn’t do it.

“A lot of people seem to think I started this business, but rock ‘n’ roll was here a long time before I came along,” Elvis told Jet‘s Louie Robinson. “… Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that. But I always liked that kind of music.”

Culture is stepping stones that make up the chorus of humanity.  The more we borrow and adapt the more we have the opportunity to improve.  We don’t always improve but at least the window is there.  I thought Jarod in the comments gave a very well reasoned system of practices in this regard, that I am reprinting with permission:

My rules for respecting the culture of others when it comes to how I dress:
1. Is it demeaning in any way?
2. Does this particular piece have a strong spiritual/importance connotation? i.e. military service, heavy religious meaning, etc.
3. Am I supporting the people of that culture when I purchase the item or am I just giving some more money to a huge company that makes everything in China?

Decidedly not Ivy, but I come from a rural western background so cowboy hats, boots, and the like are a part of my style. I’ll wear bolo ties with native American designs if I buy it from a native person/business. I’m sure I’d do the same thing if I wanted to buy a kilt. I stay away from large feathers on hats because of it’s religious and military connotations to many native cultures just as I stay away from rank and unit patches on my fatigue jacket.

Scarves.  How do you wear them?  I want to wrap them once around my neck, but today’s scarves are too short.  And, if I wear a scarf this way, I can skip a day shaving my neck.

Most photos of me are taken before 6 in the morning so back off. 🙂

I get a lot of questions, some of which I have no idea how to answer.  So I have done two things.  The first is to corral a few folks from the FB group (men and women) to help me answer them, and second I am starting an advice column here.  Don’t worry, I do not take myself seriously enough (you DO see the picture above, right?) to think I know something you don’t know, but if we get an answer together, that might be fun.  Also, it is confidential (meaning I won’t print your name), so email me here if you have something you want Me/Us to cover.

What could the advice possibly be? “Your dad is right. You like your face? pet monkeys eat faces.”

The backpack column yesterday got some attention.   Of course, I was accused of mansplaining because I used an image to defend the backpack genre.   I am a man, yes, but I wasn’t even explaining anything.

I ate one for posting this picture. What? This is a backpack, which also happens to carry centuries of spiritual and martial arts wisdom. How is this not Ivy?

We keep an editorial calendar (on Airtable which I HIGHLY recommend for project management) and I was weeding through the ideas that were submitted yesterday.  One was to cover wallets.  The wallet is gonna be Latin soon, if it isn’t already.  I have pared down myself, I carry this:

Not mine which is in my pocket and I am too lazy to stand up to get it out.

Which has a money clip on the back.  Here:

Ornamental clip. Wasn’t supposed to be, but turns out it is.


Money clips work, but money clips on the back of cardholders never work.  Which is fine because who carries money?  Do you carry money?

The Wall St. Journal went so far as to present the argument for the cashmere hoodie (thank you Mr. T).  You can check out the article here, or I can save you the time.  Love the Wall St. Journal, this position is nonsense.

From the Wall St. Journal. I see this, I don’t even need to read the article. Am I missing something? I have an alma Mater hoodie. It is cotton. I think I paid $45 for it, and that was too much.


33 Comments on "Just Ordering Appetizers"

  1. “Sic transit gloria mundi” is the Latin phrase that I recall when reading about how bow ties are like Latin.

    “These Are Our Failures” had a passage about how if men stop wearing certain menswear items, they become more or less extinct. Bow ties are not extinct, but they definitely appear to be on life support.

  2. @Mitchell – Drake’s of London used to make the best bow ties on the planet, but no more. I’m just glad that I bought as many as I did beginning about 10 years ago. Now they only carry skinny, overpriced four-in-hands. What’s going on here?

  3. Richard E. Press | December 1, 2021 at 12:12 pm |

    Bow Ties have been a Dick Press signature item for 50+ years. The current popularity of “Threading The Needle” book + columns reaffirms Sondheim’s lyric, “I’m Still Here.” Witness for the prosecution, J. Squeeze bow tie sales still hitting the mark.

  4. A positive step, bow ties for collegians and pre-tied bow ties for their professors and their younger preppy siblings. While teaching ones younger siblings how to tie a knot, professors are the lost generation. Could Stewie teach Brian how to tie a bow?

  5. Charlottesville | December 1, 2021 at 2:35 pm |

    I wear bow ties fairly often, and still see them around town on others occasionally, especially at church and on my stockbroker friend who wears them nearly every day. I even see them on younger guys although, alas, not as many as a few years ago.

    I also have a full-fledged wallet for credit cards, IDs, licenses, etc. and carry a silver money clip in my pants pocket. The clip is stocked with a few bucks for small purchases, tolls, tips for parking attendants and the like.

    As for the WSJ article on custom-made cashmere hoodies, words fail me. Like $1,000 sneakers, the existence or a $2,000 sweatshirt is simply unfathomable.

    I too wear bow ties. I think we are a dying breed though. Up here, you almost never see a stockbroker in a bow tie. Actually, up here, you never see a stockbroker. I work sometimes with finance folks, but never a stockbroker. I think one types into a stockbroker now. The full-fledged wallet: I should confess, I carry a Midori Traveler’s in my bag that works like your wallet does. But I don’t carry all that on my person anymore. Might be a regional thing too – up here money is discouraged. Tips for valets, etc. are the sole exception. I had a silver money clip as well for years and loved it. Agreed about the hoodie. – JB

  6. While I’m not a bow tie kind of guy, I think they can certainly look good when worn well, and I’m very glad to learn from Richard Press that they’re continuing to sell. Nobody I grew up around ever wore one, so there was a dearth of examples for me to follow close to home. Wearing one might feel to me like wearing a Daniel Patrick Moynihan or George Will (or Pee Wee Herman) costume.
    Jarod’s simple and short list of guidelines on the idea of cultural appropriation seem quite reasonable to me. Is it a topic that deserves its own post, or should the list be it?

    I think you are right about its own post. A few folks have sent me articles about Black Ivy (the book coming out) and I am going to tackle it, maybe there is a good place? – JB

  7. Charlottesville,

    I, too still carry a wallet. But, how does one carry a vaccine passport? A special carrying case of the right size? Shouldn’t it be laminated? And if one forgets it and leaves it at home, then what? I wonder if a reduced size facsimile would fly?

    I’ve got a hunch that electronic verification will be the final solution, making the purchase of an electronic device, as well as having it on you at all times will pretty much be the most convenient, if not mandatory method.

  8. side note: One day I am going to learn how to construct a compound sentence and where to place the comma. I was good at this in the second grade but, time takes it’s toll.

  9. Charlottesville | December 1, 2021 at 3:42 pm |

    Hardbopper – I keep my vaccine record, folded and unlaminated, in my wallet, but I agree that is less than ideal. I also have a version on my phone. Thus far, that has worked when I have needed it, but few places are requiring it in my area.

  10. So the comma comes before the conjunction? Is this a variable practice? Is or was there at one time a British convention vs. an American convention? I am confused recently because I see it done differently, in Scripure readings maybe?

  11. Hardbopper,

    Your use of the term “final solution” regarding is an apt and sad.


  12. …regarding proof of vaccination…


  13. @ Hardbopper – Do NOT laminate your vaccination card. You will need to add future shots or boosters. I have a photo of mine in my phone and a photocopy in my wallet. My state will have an app for it in a couple of weeks.

    P.S. “…time takes its toll.” It may look odd, but there is no apostrophe on the possessive of it.
    P.P.S. The Oxford comma before a preposition is usually optional and up to the writer. Using it or not, though, can alter the meaning of the sentence.

  14. Man, Will, people can have reasonable disagreements about plenty of things and I’m not going to go down the politics or vaccine road here, but we really need to stop equating vaccine mandates with the holocaust. There isn’t anything apt, appropriate, or even remotely amusing about it. If it isn’t the deliberate murder of millions of people on an industrial scale, let us all do better to not go there. Talk about cultural appropriation — I type this respectfully assuming you didn’t exactly mean it that way, but please don’t use someone else’s unimaginable tragedy as fodder for political metaphors.

  15. The last time I wore a bow tie was for a Zoom celebration of my Grand daughter’s 13 th birthday,
    January 2021, before any of my family had been vaccinated. When she was much younger she always
    liked when i wore a coat and tie, unlike her Dad who is a tech executive, who never “dresses-up” except
    for weddings, etc. It was a John Comfort from London, a gift from my late mother over 40 years ago. I wore it
    with a cashmere blue blazer and a shirt from H & K or Finamore . I do not recall. My granddaughter, my daughter
    and the rest of the family were thrilled with the gesture.

  16. Looking forward to the post on Black Ivy — just saw some boutique’s website selling that book and didn’t realize it was a brand new publication.

  17. To All,

    I wear a bow tie to work every Tuesday and have done so consistently for some time. I would wear one other days , but my office has become so acclimated to knowing it’s Tuesday because I have on one of my BT they would get confused, and we have enough issues without me compounding their week.

    My collection is not large, but it is diverse. I always get a comment, sometimes even compliments. Tampa is better for it.

  18. Nevada,

    Why would you assume it is somebody else’s unimaginable tragedy?


  19. Will, I just don’t know a lot of Jewish people who would trivialize the holocaust is all, so I did make an assumption. In this case, if what I assume is wrong, it certainly is doing what they say assumptions do.

  20. Does it matter whether it was or wasn’t somebody’s unimaginable tragedy? No, it doesn’t.

    What matters is that using millions of murders to make a political point is wrong and dumb.

    Nice attempt at deflection though.

  21. What’s more Ivy than bow ties from Vermont?

  22. One thing I liked about bow ties was demonstrating how easy it was to tie.
    I’d pull it apart, re-tie on the spot, just using my fingers to measure if it was even. Looked just fine; no need for all those ridiculous “practice” tips.
    Got far more compliments than “comments”. Also far fewer food stains.

  23. Bow ties have not been in mainstream fashion since the mid 1960’s, and even back then they were associated with a “good boy” look. Since the cultural revolution of the late 1960’s, bow ties have been out of fashion, but remained a staple of the Ivy/preppy subculture. The reason why fewer and fewer people seem to be comfortable wearing them is because such an accessory, by definition, draws (what these people believe to be) unnecessary attention. And so, they end up wearing this accessory only in a very particular setting, where bow ties are understood and appreciated. For example, as much as I like bow ties, I only wear them a few times a year to my Upper East side church in New York (for those who don’t know, Upper East is the most conservatively dressed, “old money” area of the city), where a few of my friends also occasionally wear bow ties. It’s one of the few places I don’t feel out of place, wearing one. I assume, in some country clubs, bow ties can still regularly be seen, along with other preppy style elements. I used to wear bow ties as a little kid, then stopped for quite a few years, and then started again after being sartorially influenced by my choir conductor (an impeccably-dressed gentleman, a great man overall, and a Harvard graduate). Another regular bow tie wearer I know is a Columbia graduate doctor. So, some people still wear them and look perfectly naturally doing so. You just have to find the right place and occasion. The bow ties I wear are all vintage J Press and Brooks in very slim batwing shape. You can’t find them anymore anywhere. Even the ones J Press currently sells are too wide and too big.

  24. Soi-disant elites who openly admire the likes of Margaret Sanger and Paul Ehrlich and relish the opportunity this virus has offered for a great reset and an authoritarian new world order behave in a certain way, one should probably take them at their word.

    I don’t happen to be Jewish by the way. I try not to see black, white, Jewish, Hindu but human beings. Whatsoever you do to the least of my people you do unto me and all that.


  25. Jim K,
    Thanks for the refresher regarding the possesive of it, which makes my point self-evident. (There’s probably a literary term for that.) Online conversational writing, as well as 20+ years of immersion in pretentious vocational jibber-jabber, leads to bad habits, a real dumbing down. I find it to be more difficult than formal writing. One reason I’ve enjoyed this “blog?” over the years is because the writing is usually very good.

    I’ll go the with the photocopy to facilitate carrying it in my wallet. If at some point the photocopy is rejected by a gate agent, or whomever, then I guess I’ll just be PNG. I can live with that.

  26. I occasionally wear bow ties. Growing up I knew two men who wore bow ties exclusively – tan ophthalmologist who found the bow tie more suited for his work, and the great John Ratte’. Seems like bow ties fall into three camps – always/ only, never, and two/ three times per year.

    As to the prattle about authoritarianism/ new world order and the resultant clumsy deflections, may I suggest i-i-i-i-infowars.com, a quick google of Godwin’s Law, or failing all else, Trad-Man?

  27. Rake,

    One should read a bit of everything. Wouldn’t you agree?


  28. Interesting parry. I read widely, but save for others the dime store philosophy, that which is demonstrably false, and that which is slanderous/ libelous. YMMV, so feel free to enjoy the aforementioned.

  29. How does one determine what is dime store, slanderous, libelous and demonstrably false without first reading the material? I get news alerts throughout the day from the New York Times, Washington Post and others. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate them from the Babylon Bee but I still read them. They serve to make me even more certain of what I believe to be true.


  30. AtlantaPete | December 2, 2021 at 2:48 pm |

    Am wearing a bow tie today as I am attending a closing dinner (the first of those in a very long time). While I am not a purist, I wear bow ties as frequently or more frequently than long ties, but alas, I have fallen into the prevailing fashion, or lack thereof, of no tie since all of the folks with whom I do business (investment bankers and the like) are sans tie. I have noticed that bow ties seem to elicit positive comments from strangers which is a good reason for wearing them.

    Another great source of bow ties is Randy Hanauer’s opertion in Fort Mill, South Carolina (www.bowties.com).

  31. Stephen Beare | December 2, 2021 at 8:15 pm |

    I read this with a slight grin as my navy silk bow tie from O’Connells arrived yesterday, I am wearing it with wool tartan trousers and sack blazer in New Orleans for New Year’s dinner at Arnaud’s. laissez bon temps rouler . . .a friend of mine told me that he bow tie is the sartorial equivalent of a mohawk. I kind of like that,

  32. The sartorial equivalent of a mohawk — that made me laugh. I like it.

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