Tahlequah Daily Press

December 24, 2012

The ties have it

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Its modern form is based on a predecessor that originated in Croatia during the 17th Century, and while the necktie has taken on many forms for varied uses, it never ceases to deliver its intended purpose as a decorative adornment that may denote wealth, position of authority, serve as a neckerchief with which to wipe away perspiration or become the finishing piece to a uniform.

Throughout history, a man’s attire for situations of social pomp and circumstance traditionally included well-polished wingtipped dress shoes, a clean, pressed suit and a necktie. A  fedora was often included, as well. This social uniform of a sorts was donned for attending church on Sundays, representing one’s family during somber times like at a funeral or good times like a graduation, but the suit and tie will never be separated from the thought of dressing for success. Hat or no hat. It’s National Tie Month, and the Daily Press spoke with three local dignitaries about their thoughts on wearing a necktie.

Sen. Jim Wilson has worn neckties for years, sometimes because it was an expectation, while in other scenarios it was a requirement. In either situation, wearing a necktie delivered something that a T-shirt just can’t offer, he said.

“There is something about the absence of an ability to breath that gives me self-confidence,” he said. “I’ve found that wearing ties gives family members the simple Christmas gift of stress-free gift giving - ‘just get him a tie.’ I don’t know what they’ll do now, but I’ll wait with eager anticipation for pajamas.”

Representing Tahlequah as its mayor has given Jason Nichols reason to learn a well-presented Windsor knot, but said wearing a necktie feels “restrictive on the neck, creates complications in movement, slows me down in getting dressed and causes me to spend more money on clothing than I otherwise would.”

“That and my wife makes me,” he said. “Please don’t take my comments as criticism of the fashion sense who like, or always wear, ties. Their preference is just as valid as mine.”

The elected City of Firsts leader said he wishes that consideration went both directions.

“I can tell you that the last time I wore a bow tie was when I went to prom. And, if I recall correctly, it was the type that you didn’t have to tie. It had the little hook that you connected after you wrapped it around your neck,” Nichols said. “I do still know some people that actually wear bow ties and they look just fine. I’m afraid if I tried it, I’d look too much like Jimmy Olsen.”

Northeastern State University President Dr. Steve Turner is of the “old school where, in the business and the professional world, I was always taught you always wanted to look your best.”

“You only have one chance to make a first impression,” he said. “That was so ingrained in who I was that business and professional people always want to look the best that they can - whatever that means. And for me, that involved a suit and a tie. It’s routine for me. In fact, people find it odd if I’m not in a suit and tie. So it’s just been a part of what I have always felt was part of the style, and I think that you should always model a characteristic or style that you think exhibits professionalism - and again I’ve always believed that looking your best did - and the suit’s a part of that.”

Though Turner is dedicated to representing his constituents by way of a conservative and polished look, he said the uniform has been a way of life for him.

“We were poor. I’m first generation, but we were always taught to look your best and work hard. So it wasn’t always a fashion statement,” he said. “I was taught you look your best, but then I recognize, too, that there is a style in what I view - and again I’ve said it before that I’m from the old school. There is a professional look that has been in place in the business arena for a long time, and I think that that’s just carried on with how I feel I should present myself.”

The need to look experienced and adept is something Wilson is quite familiar with, as well. To be dignified, one must present himself as such, he said.

“My experience has been suit and sport coat styles don’t change frequently, leaving a tie or an orange mohawk hair cut the best way to distinguish oneself,” he said. “I’m old enough to remember men wearing bling, which gave them a non-tie option. Skinny chests with spotty chest hair and gold chains was short lived - thank goodness we returned to ties.”

As Nichols can remember the specific instances he clipped on a bow tie, Sen. Wilson’s experience with wearing one is as restrictive, or short-lived.

“My experience wearing a bow tie is limited to the very few times I’ve worn a tux,” he said. “Being in a tux is never comfortable after dripping shrimp sauce on the shirt, but the tie is comfortable and the shrimp sauce usually misses it.”

Wilson’s choices for “fun ties” have included mathematical, computer or Tabasco themes, while Nichols opts for the chance to support America’s team, though his favorite NFL team hasn’t given him reason lately to strain his neck proudly.

“About as far as I’ve ever taken to a silly or joke necktie is when I’ve demonstrated my nearly obsessive devotion to the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “”I have two Dallas Cowboys ties, but I’m not sure I’ve put either of them on in years.”

Turner said he rarely wears a bow tie and if he does, it’s usually to a black-tie event.

“Even at black tie events I’ll often just wear a vest and still wear a regular tie. For the most part, other than today with a reindeer, I wear non-flashy, pretty conservative, basic colors and often paisleys,” he said. “I’m a pretty conservative dresser. So you wear blue, black or gray and you change it with the tie. It’s just that quick. A tie really is the piece that lets you - in my world, it lets me modify the wardrobe ever so slightly. There is a model for the business and professional world that I bought into a long time ago, but it’s no different than others that have in a way a uniform or how they see themselves. How they feel comfortable.”