Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Novelty ties

November 14

Dear Jeanne,

My father treasures his novelty ties and wears them regularly to work and parties. How can I coax him gently but firmly onto the chic side?



Dear Grace:


As much as his “novelty ties” may irk you—and believe me, I know how ridiculous some of these attention-getting cravats can be—you’ve got to applaud your dad for not taking fashion too seriously and keeping his inner child alive. That being said, it’s high time you inspired him to step it up in the style department and start acting his age instead of his shirt size. That’s not to say that older gentlemen can’t have fun with silly ties, but anything that whimsical done with that sort of regularity is sure to turn one into a caricature of oneself. It’s time to expose the old man to ties that will get noticed, but not guffawed at.


The best way to point out the chic tie possibilities is by exposing your dad to them. Get a stash of men’s magazines, and start tearing out pages that feature classy ties you think he’d look good in. Share the images with him over a relaxing drink and let him know how great you think he’d look in some of these ties. If your dad lives in another city, make a fun little scrapbook for him with pictures of these ties and call it something like “Tied to You”. That, along with a beautiful tie you’ve picked out especially for him, would undoubtedly tug at his heart-strings, and allow you to drop the hint in a stylish, productive way. Take a look at some of your father’s favourite shirts and suits and tell him you want to go tie shopping with him to find just the right tie wardrobe to complement his wardrobe. And don’t think you have to spend a bundle: Some second-hand and vintage shops carry large assortments of cool and classy silk ties at remarkably reasonable prices. And because your dad has a penchant for fun, statement-making ties don’t try to force too many understated, conservative ties on him. He’ll be happy to see some very classy ties by tasteful labels like Ferragamo, Paul Smith, and Hermes, to name a few, that still offer whimsy with some of their patterns and colours—but do it in a stylish way. I once bought Prime Minister Harper a lovely blue Ferragamo tie for his birthday with subtle dragonflies on it! I think he appreciated it. After all, we all do have a sense of humour. It’s just that some novelty ties are indeed a bit much, and best reserved for special occasions. If your dad’s novelty tie collection is really that precious to him, he might be content with just having a few of them framed for his office. Of course, you could do that for him as a kind of surprise, maybe with a little plaque on it that says: “In case of a ‘taking-yourself-too-seriously’ emergency, break glass!”


It’s often hard to impose our own sense of style and esthetics on others. And in some cases, I think it can be a dangerous and rather rude thing to do. Most of us could use a little more personality and even eccentricity in our approach to dressing. If your dad is happy with images of the Road Runner or Santa Claus around his neck, you might just want to let him be. Then again, exposing anyone to “chic side” can never hurt. Whether or not they want to walk it is up to them.