My husband likes to dress up for work. He wore a jacket and tie in prep school; some habits get ingrained, I guess. Nowadays his colleagues at the university and the museum wear suits and ties, so it's a good thing that he enjoys looking professional. It's something I can't manage at all, myself, which is strange because I've had no trouble building his wardrobe and maintaining it. It's lucky I work at home, where the dress code allows bare feet and bathrobes.
My husband likes beautiful ties and he has dozens, but he always welcomes new ones. I went in search of one for his birthday this past week. I was looking for a slimmer style, because he prefers them these days. If they aren't too skinny in a hipster way, slimmer ties look elegant in a "Mad Men" way. But most slender ties are boring: dull solid colors or preppy plaids or stripes. We both like intricacy: paisleys, medallion prints, and foulards, in silk.
Remember the giant wall of ties in the downtown Basement? That was my hunting ground for decades. There were thousands of ties of every description; you could kill an hour searching for a perfect one — and you would inevitably find if you were persistent. Every man in my family got great ties as presents in those days. I'd see them trotted out at weddings, holidays, and funerals.
I finally found a handsome, affordable tie at the Basement on Newbury Street last week. As every Bostonian knows, that store is but a pale ghost of the late Grand Dame. But I was desperate; I had already looked unsuccessfully in several stores. And, much as I admire the Charvet ties at Neiman Marcus, I would never pay anything close to three figures for a delicate item that can be ruined in seconds by its unsuspecting wearer. I usually find myself at the Basement sooner or later, sighing for the old days.
The tie I bought is a medallion pattern in an subdued gray-blues, golds, and red. My husband was pleased and planned to wear it the day after he unwrapped it. After cutting off the tags (rendering it nonreturnable) and putting it around his neck, he noticed it seemed very short. Turns out it was eight inches too short. He tried to wear it anyway, but I forbid it.
Since when do they make petite ties?
When I reported this to my personal men's fashion expert, Some Assembly Required, he suggested that it was a boy's tie. But it's too sophisticated a pattern for a kid. I see it as a Pee Wee Herman or Danny DeVito tie, although it's too sophisticated for them, too. Maybe it's a hobbit tie. I'm going to try to return it, even though the tags are off.