All tied up

The candidate’s dilemma: necktie or no tie?

“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties?” the acerbic TV journalist Linda Ellerbee once asked. “How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck?”

This may be the only area in which Paul Ryan and Ellerbee would ever agree. But the Republican vice presidential candidate’s frequent tielessness hasn’t pleased everyone.

CNN Democratic pundit James Carville got curiously worked up about the fact that Ryan appeared sans neckware during his introduction as Mitt Romney’s running mate. The Daily Beast’s Robin Givhan observed that the look was an echo of Obamastyle, except that in Ryan’s case the black-jacket no-tie look was meant to convey “aw-shucks understatement” rather than the president’s cool “nonchalance.”

Then again, the Boston Globe’s Tom Keane suggested that Ryan was doing a favor for all mankind: “Paul Ryan may not succeed in ending Medicare as we know it, but he might be the death knell for the necktie.”

The necktie is already an endangered species. As Keane goes on to say, sales in recent years have plummeted. Despite its value as status symbol (or phallic symbol, as hypothesized by fashion theorists like Anne Hollander), there’s no getting around the fact that the necktie is an uncomfortable, often expensive and mostly unnecessary article of clothing, even in business settings.

Except, I suspect, at the Republican National Convention. Credentialed press at the RNC are expected to wear “professional attire,” and I imagine that to most guys in the profession that means ties. Even in Tampa. In August. Same goes for U.S. Senators and also-ran presidential candidates and speech-making nominees.

But if Ryan really wants to carry this fashion-forward thing all the way, we offer the example pictured on this page. What better way to show off your renegade rep and P90X®-ripped body than by going, not tieless, but shirtless — with a necktie that is not only a tribute to innovative thinking but a nod to a Tampa Bay small business?

Spathose Designs, the team of Scott Durfee and George Medeiros, is famous for adapting palm spathes into beautiful garments and accessories, and now they’ve reinvented the necktie as “wearable neck sculpture.” Wear it alone, or accessorize with extra ties, strategically placed.

James Carville probably wouldn’t approve of this look either, Paul. But the visuals might win you a whole new constituency.

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