30. Bow Ties
Architects aren’t into fussy fashions that require extensive grooming or prep time. They prefer to sport a look that appears effortless and nonchalant to drive home the point that they ‘do what they want’. In all reality, most architects are so preoccupied with how to anchor a plywood panel to a CMU wall in such a way that doesn’t look ‘cheap’ that they pay little attention to their wardrobe choices save for whether it is the correct shade of black. While architects avoid clothing that requires excessive ironing, precise buttoning or buttons in general, they are somehow drawn to wear bow ties; the fashion accessory that requires 16 steps to tie and numerous attempts to master.
The technical challenge presented by the bow tie is no doubt a selling point for architects. They are drawn almost obsessively to any challenge that will test – and prove – their abilities to manipulate matter into something that is [undecidedly] beautiful. Aesthetics are another reason architects choose to wear bow ties. The traditional and formal look of the bow tie exemplifies the architect’s education and understanding of classical design and proportions. Wearing a bow tie draws the attention to the face, making the architect’s exclusive eyewear more evident. Had a client confused the architect in thick black frame glasses with Buddy Holly, a bow tie will eliminate any confusion. Obviously, anyone wearing both black rimmed glasses and a bow tie must be an architect because only James Bond wear bow ties outside of formal events. Problem solved – and we know architects are problem solvers.
Perhaps the greatest irony of bow tie wearing architects is that so many of them are not classicists, but rather, modernists, post modernists, or deconstructivists.
The modernist architect justifies his bow tie by claiming that form follows function, and if one must tie a giant knot around his neck for the sake of fashion, it should at least look nice. The modernist defines the bow tie as a machine for looking suave. He determines that a bow tie is not an element of ornament because it is constructed of a single piece of fabric, oblivious to the fact that fashion accessories, by nature, are ornamental. The modernist convinces himself that the bow tie is a symbol of the movement’s great struggle between the old and new, and that pairing a classic bow tie with a sports coat and Bermuda shorts will give voice to the struggle – subtly, of course. Ultimately, the modernist mandates the singular use of ‘freestyle’ bow ties and denounces the use of ready-tied bow ties, as this would obviously be in violation of ‘truth in materials’.
Meanwhile, the post modernist gladly embraces the falseness of the adjustable length bow tie, seeing it as both a rejection of modernism and as a nod to mass production. While the pseudo-functional construction sits well with the post modernist, the color selection does not. Boring black and white does not provide enough color, so the post modernist seeks out multi-colored and multi-patterned bow ties to liven up his wardrobe as he makes his statement in defiance of modernism’s cold and minimal aesthetic. The more colors and patterns the better. Everyone knows that ‘less is a bore’, plus his tie is equipped to coordinate with any outfit he wears. Who cares that he only wears turtlenecks and that one does not traditionally wear bow ties with turtlenecks. The point is to both buck tradition and embrace it at the same time.
The deconstructivist is dissatisfied with both the freestyle bow tie and the adjustable ready-tied varieties as they focus too obviously on the structure of the tie itself. The deconstructivist sees fashion accessories as simply additional skins which have no need of exclusive structure. Keeping with this notion, he incorporates a clip-on bow tie into his wardrobe as a subconscious expression of fragmentation. He is pleasantly surprised with the unpredictable and chaotic nature of the tie’s movement as it dangles precipitously from his collar. The ambiguity of the clip’s structure and the structural support of the shirt collar gives him great delight.
At the next get-together, the three architects gather next to one another so that passers-by will be sure to understand the reference each tie makes to the other. Sadly, the only thing that passers-by ‘get’ is that bow ties are much too formal and traditional for a college career fair.
- How to tie a Bow Tie (thenattyurbanite.wordpress.com)
- Blogger Showdown: Should You Ever Wear a Bow Tie? (esquire.com)
Written by: Brinn Miracle