When I turned 50 recently, I vowed not to wear a tie again, with the possible exceptions of attending a wedding or a funeral. Thankfully I have not been to either since, so I haven’t had to make that call.
The open neck look now seems to be more prevalent than wearing a tie, at least from my observations.
During my childhood, my father always wore a tie to work, and when I started working in the office full time, I too wore one daily.
One day we were walking to a nearby restaurant for lunch, and a local kid came by on his bike and asked us if we were detectives. I guess to him we looked the part based on what he saw on TV.
When I was kid, my parents sometimes gave my grandfather a tie as a gift. But he had never worked a white-collar job, and I found it funny that my father always had to tie the tie for him, and he would hang it up and keep it tied for the occasions when he needed to spiff himself up.
I don’t miss looking like a cop, and I never wore a bow tie either, with the exception of a photo I recall seeing of myself when I was about 4 years old, but in that picture I was also wearing a red blazer, so I was obviously not the one who picked the outfit.
Without a tie, though, what could I use instead to add at least a modicum of pizzazz to my wardbrobe? Enter the pocket square. As Huey Lewis told us all those years ago (1986, wow, that long, yes, I checked!), It’s Hip to be Square.
So I now have a small inventory of pocket squares of various colours and patterns, but far from the tie inventory that I had amassed. But with time, it may get there.
One of the things I like about the pocket square thing is the name, pocket square. It must go back to my Dad again, because as far as he was concerned, to be square was a supreme compliment, it was the opposite of crooked.
“That Bob is a real square guy” would be about the nicest thing he could say about someone. That’s not to say that he rarely paid anyone a compliment, just to emphasize how important squareness was to him.
Now I’ve stated that I like the whole pocket square idea, but it has raised some questions on what is OK and what isn’t with respect to wearing one. I have never been a fashion junkie, I have usually been content to find clothes that fit me and that don’t clash.
I like the fact that there are some alternatives to how you wear the square. Some guys go with the ironed square, where it looks pressed and it forms a perfect thin rectangle above the pocket line. It’s a classy look, but really not my style.
I prefer more of a freestyle look, but I am not sure if all of the variations that I have been trying are cool. I am getting more adventurous, with different ways of folding the thing so that a few triangles stick out, or just kind of fluffing it up and shoving it in however it comes out. It all seems pretty random sometimes.
Or is it okay to fasten it in place with some tape or pins inside the pocket, after all that work to get it to look just right?
One conclusion that I have come to, is that guys who wear both a pocket square AND a tie are probably trying too hard, but maybe that’s just me.
Of course, this is coming from a guy who has been spotted on more than one dance floor with a tie around his head. But never again, since I don’t do the tie thing anymore. I’m a square guy now, and I think my Dad would be proud.