The Father's Day Necktie: A Perennial Favorite
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. On a day coming up, on a very important weekend, joining us is DAY TO DAY senior producer Steve Proffitt. Steve, welcome back.
STEVE PROFFITT reporting:
Thank you, Alex. I brought you a little Father's Day present.
CHADWICK: Well, thank you so much. This is a...
PROFFITT: Just open it up there quickly.
(Soundbite of wrapping paper)
CHADWICK: It's a tie.
PROFFITT: Yes, it's the ubiquitous and perhaps soon-to-be anachronistic artifact of Western culture: the necktie.
Unidentified Man #1: Okay. So you put the tie around your neck and then...
Unidentified Man #2: Oh, this is hard to do while talking about it.
Unidentified Man #3: I take the fat part over the skinny part...
Unidentified Man #4: And then - I am not going to be able to do this.
PROFFITT: Despite the difficulties in using it, even though it is a cliché as sad as giving a blender as a wedding gift, the necktie with all its cultural baggage, remains a popular Father's Day present.
Mr. HOWARD DAVIDOWITZ (Retail Consultant): Certainly neckties are right in there. It's easy to give. It's simple. It's a gift. So, it's very, very important.
PROFFITT: Howard Davidowitz is a retail consultant and a frequent guest on this program. He says neckties are very much a part of the retail bonanza that is Father's Day, when Americans will spend an estimated 9 billion dollars on dads. They'll buy tools, electronic gizmos, lots of gift cards, and yes, neckties.
Mr. DAVIDOWITZ: The Carlos Santana and the Jerry Garcia tie lines are going to be two of the hottest tie lines, as far as ties go. And a lot of the box shirts are being packaged with matched ties to make it easy for gift giving.
PROFFITT: Easy to give, but difficult to tie. For generations, the art of tying a tie has been handed down from father to son like the keys to the family car. But as American culture embraces jeans and flip-flops over formality, occasions requiring a tie are ever more rare. Neckwear skills are becoming endangered.
Unidentified Man #5: I was taught this by my grandfather.
Unidentified Woman: Well, there's a lot of crossing involved, I remember that. And...
Unidentified Man #6: Okay, I'm trying to picture my dad showing me how to do this.
Unidentified Man #7: Flip it around...
Unidentified Man #8: And now I'm putting - oh goodness, now I'm going to forget.
Unidentified Man #9: You have to just do it. It's like ripping a Band-Aid off.
Unidentified Man #10: Whip it around...
Unidentified Man #11: Just one quick motion...
Unidentified Man #12: Down, okay...
Unidentified Woman #2: And this is the part where the magic comes in. You have to have touch for this.
Unidentified Man #13: Tighter, tighter. We've got a knot, sort of a knot.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Man #14: Does this work?
PROFFITT: It's a very odd thing, this folded bit of fabric, that when knotted around the neck is supposed to convey a sense of sophistication or make a statement. I'm all about business. I have good taste. You can trust me. And yet, in what Howard Davidowitz calls the casualization of American, a tie can now seem too formal, off-putting even. Now, even the most traditional of professions are going open collar.
Mr. DAVIDOWITZ: When you see accountants and lawyers and in some cases investment bankers without ties, that has to tell you something.
PROFFITT: Howard, are you wearing a tie right now?
Mr. DAVIDOWITZ: No, I'm not. As a matter of fact, I did a TV interview with BBC the other day, and I didn't wear a tie either.
PROFFITT: That actually could be good news for the nation's trade deficit since, as Davidowitz notes, almost all ties sold in America, even the expensive designer labeled ones, come from China. Still, ties aren't completely passé; they remain standard fashion for weddings, funerals, formal dinners and criminal indictments. So, Happy Father's Day. Steve Proffitt, NPR News.
Unidentified Man #15: I think this is good enough to get me a job as a telemarketer.
Unidentified Man #16: I (unintelligible) the little dimple.
Unidentified Man #17: It almost works.
Unidentified Man #18: That looks absolutely horrible.
Unidentified Man #19: And then you tighten it up around your neck.
Unidentified Man #20: And you've got your knot.
Unidentified Woman #3: You've tied your tie.
Unidentified Man #21: I like this tie. I think I'm going to wear it for the rest of the day.
CHADWICK: NPR's DAY TO DAY continues.