Warning: photo heavy post.
I have a dirty little secret, I love neckties. I find them to be incredibly sexy on my man, I think that when women wear them, sexy can be off the charts. I love how they are little pieces of art that can worn around your neck. And I especially love how they can become something else.
My love affair with repurposing neckties actually goes back to the 60’s with the necktie skirt. Thankfully, I have no photos of my own, but there is always a resurgence with each generation. I think one of the reasons the necktie is such a good candidate for reuse, is because the silk that ties are made out of, is really exceptional.
My love of ties was rekindled about three years ago. My job went away, when the yarn store I worked for closed. I started sewing tote and project bags for not only myself, but also for another yarn store. I made a rather large tote from upholstery fabric and some of my father’s ties. The creative wheels started turning. I then made another smaller tote using another of his ties as a collage element. Well, that’s when I started going on the hunt for specific ties.
This is when once again my favorite thrift stores came to my rescue. I started looking for interesting patterns and specific colors to go with other collage pieces. When I turned the tie over and looked at the name on the back, I was stunned. Some were Gianni Versace, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Pierre Cardin, and Gorgio Armani. The number of designers making these pieces of art amazed me. I also found Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, Johnny Carson and other people that I didn’t know had become designers.
Then there were the novelty ties. Homer Simpson bowling, the Lawn Mower Man from After Dark screensavers, tomatoes, and even Home Improvement. I absolutely had to get the one with green dollar signs all over it. The fun was just beginning. Can you say obsession?
Here’s some tips if you too have the necktie bug bite you.
First of all, ask friends and family. If there are men in the family, there definitely will be ties and they will probably have some they’re willing to part with. Free is definitely best. Be prepared to take a few you might not be as crazy about, you can always donate them. If you’re going to the thrift store, buy what you like. I don’t care if it is a Pierre Cardin, if it has a design that I don’t like, I don’t buy it.
Next, if there are stains, food, or if it’s overly abraided from use, don’t bother, unless it’s absolutely stunning, then you can always get it dry cleaned before use.
Do buy the designers! They use a higher grade of silk than many department stores. Look at the label on the back for the fiber content. If it’s polyester, you may not want it, unless you’re going to use the tie for a handle on a bag.
Be picky! Neckties are probably one of the main items that people donate to thrift stores so there are always lots of choices. I will pull out a number of ties that interest me and then go over them, take the best and put back the others.
Be mindful of the price. At one thrift store I usually pay between $1.99 and $4.99 for a name designer tie. At another store in a more affluent town, I could pay $8.99 to $16.99 for the same designer. The most I have paid for a tie is $8.99, a Jerry Garcia I’ve never seen before.
So my favorite? I like this one very much. It was given to me by a friend after I admired it in his collection. It’s a Frank Lloyd Wright design.
Now can anyone tell me where my Johnny Carson Iris tie is? I couldn’t find it among the others.
In part two, I’ll talk about what to do with all those ties!