Sharp dressed man

Last night, I was at the El Mocambo (just up the street from my house), where I attended the secret rehearsal/concert of my friend, the critically acclaimed rock star Hawksley Workman. He and his band the Delicious Wolves played every song off his upcoming album, Lover/Fighter. Hawksley and the band were in top form, and the new songs are great.

I managed to say “hi” to Hawksley backstage before he went on. He almost didn’t recognize me.

“Joey!” said Hawksley Workman, who then gave me a big hug. “You…you look good! What happened? And what’s with the tie?”

We’d last seen each other two years and thirty-five pounds ago. Sure, I looked good then; I just look better now.

As for the tie thing, that’s a new affectation, and the subject of this entry.

The barman wears a tie

At the reception following Derek’s and Allison’s wedding, Marius and I were discussing the vital social role that places like cafes and pubs play.

“The Brits have this saying,” I said to Marius after another swig of rye and Coke, “‘The pub is the hub’. It’s the centre of life for each neighbourhood in large cities, and even more so in small towns. Here, most bars and pubs, and for that matter cafes, are just the end point in a someone’s distribution chain. They’re not so much places as they are business plans that just happen to involve beer and coffee.”

“Yeah, exactly,” said Marius, in his cool accent that sounds like a mix of both English and his native Swiss German. “The barman isn’t just some kid from University in a beer T-shirt who’s doing it just for some extra money, but a pillar of the community who wears a tie.”

“Hmmm…that’s right. Always a white shirt with a skinny black tie.”

I buy ties

I spent the night in motel on Lundy’s Lane, the extension of a street called Clifton Hill, the cheesy tourist strip in Niagara Falls. That morning, I drove to where Lundy’s Lane meets Clifton Hill, parked the CR-V in an out-of-the-way parking lot and went out to take pictures of both the Falls and the gaudy tourist attractions.

The largest souvenir shop on Clifton Hill has all sorts of Canadiana — teddy bears in every colour of the rainbow with the Canadian flag swen onto their bellies, hockey pucks with the name of every NHL team emblazoned on them, big floppy top hats (a la the lead singer from Jamiroquai) with a maple leaf and CANADA written on them in huge letters and 100% polyester neckties. One had a red background with a silver maple leaf pattern, while another had a blue background with a field of white stars that blended into the American flag. I saw a sign above them that read “Special — $4.99.”

I bought both.

I get ties

As the afternoon drew to a close, I hopped into my CR-V and drove back to Toronto to show up at my parents’ house for the weekly deVilla Familly Dinner. After we ate, while we were playing with my young nephews Aidan and Nicholas, my brother-in-law Richard presented me with a bag of ties.

My sister Eileen said “They’re old ties of Richard’s. They’re a bit loud for him, but I saw them and said that you’d probably wear them.”

I emptied the bag onto the bed to inspect the ties. None of them would ever be mistaken for a Hermes tie, but most of them “spoke” to me. A couple looked like they were made from the drapery or perhaps the couch upholstery in an old folks’ home, paticularly a brown plaid one and another with a green background and a pattern of brown pineapples and reddish-brown strawberries. One particularly loud tie was an abstract pattern of browns and oranges; it looked like the sort of wall painting that you’d see in an airport waiting lounge circa 1974. The tag read “100% POLYESTER MADE IN KOREA”.

“Ugh,” said Richard, looking at the Loud Korean Tie. You can have that one.”

I held up the Loud Korean Tie. “I can make these work. I’ll take them!”

I wear ties

I wore the brown plaid tie with a way-too-large-for-me short sleeve white dress shirt I’d bought from a thrift store, a pair of cheap olive green Old Navy slacks and a pair of new Doc Marten-style Tredair shoes with a gold-and-olive Chinese dragon embroidered on them. I dubbed the look “Punk Rock NASA Engineer“.

Elliot, Tucows’ CEO saw me as I stepped into the office kitchen for a glass of ice water.

“Are you going for a job interview already? We just hired you!” he said, admiring my Lawrence Welk-era tie. Aren’t you hot in that outfit?

“It’s a new look, and it’s really no warmer than the bowling-shirt-with-T-shirt combo I usually wear. And now that neckties have been declared hazardous to your health, I think they’ve acquired a ‘death cool’ like smoking. Except there’s no such thing as secondhand constriction. Besides, the trick is not to wear it like a noose.”

“Crazy,” said Elliot, shaking his head as he walked back to his office. He was wearing a red t-shirt, black shorts and running shoes.

I’ve been wearing a tie every day since Monday. I have a collection of Dad’s old dress shirts, so unlike many of my fellow members of Generation X, I can actually pull off the shirt-and-tie thing every day. Since the weather is pretty warm, I’m tending to wear either short-sleeved dress shirts or cuffing my long-sleeved ones and on occasion I’ve done the “I’m in a ‘the’ band” thing and wore the shirts untucked.

The response has been uniformly (Ha! Get it? Uniformly!) positive.

On Thursday, I pulled my bike up to Pages, an independent bookstore at the corner of Queen and John Streets. I was buying a birthday present for my friend Chandra.

A redhead in a summer dress who stood waiting by the door came up to me. “Hey, I love your tie!”

I got a similar remark from the terribly cute woman with the long brown hair and the librarian glasses at the cash “Great tie, where’d you get it?”

Compliments from two women in about a quarter of an hour. And I was even sans accordion.

(No, Richard, you can’t have the tie back! You’re married now, remember?)

There used to be a time when it would be unthinkable for a man to leave the house without a suit, tie and hat. I don’t think I want to go so far as to wear a suit on a daily basis, but I wonder if the whole dot-com mode of dress turned us into a continent of slobs.

What would happen if I wore a tie every day, or failing that, more often than not? Admittedly, I might sometimes wear a tie the “wrong” way: with my dress shirt untucked. The Hives proved it’s possible to wear ties and still rock out. Maybe I might wear one with shorts, just like the great Angus Young from AC/DC.

(I refuse to pull an “Avril” and wear a tie like a kerchief with a T-shirt or tank top. You have to draw the line somewhere.)

I think I’ll find out. I’ll photograph myself occasionally and if the mood strikes, I’ll post the photos here.

If any of you out there have some ties that you’d like to get rid of (and if they’re reasonably clean and in reasonably good condition) you might want to send them to me. I’ll give them a good home and wear them proudly. Hey, I’ll even spring for the postage and post a photo of me in your old tie. Drop me line via email or leave a note in the comments if you’re interested.

This week’s ties

Photo: Monday's tie.

Monday’s tie. This is the brown plaid tie given to me by Richard.

Photo: My Tredairs with Chinese dragon embroidery.

Lung fu mo shi! (“Dragon Tiger!”) That was what Jackie Chan and his stuntmen buddies used to yell after a particularly difficult stunt was performed well, kind of like saying “Dude, you rock!”. They’d have yelled that had they seen me in these shoes.

Photo: Tuesday's tie.

Tuesday’s tie. This is a Christmas present from a few years back. I call it “Doctor Mad Money Billz”.

Photo: Closeup of Tuesday's tie.

A close-up of Tuesday’s tie. It’s all about the Benjamins.

Photo: Wednesday's tie.

Wednesday’s tie. This is the maple leaf tie I bought in Niagara Falls.

Photo: Thursday's tie.

Thursday’s tie. All hail the Loud Korean Tie!

Photo: Friday's tie.

Friday’s tie. I got this tie from my Dad, who bought it for me when he and Mom were at a medical convention in Disneyland. And yes, this photo was taken inside a Starbucks.

11 replies on “Sharp dressed man”


You will have to dig up the ties from your alma mater(s) to sport at some time.

Also don’t forget: always leave your tie knot just a little crooked or askew. Women simply cannot help themselves and always seem compelled to want to come up and straighten them for you. Don’t know why but it just is.


One of the things I miss about working for Presbyterians (as opposed to Episcopalians) is that I always used to wear a jacket and tie to work, whereas now I wear a boring old white collar most days. (I could just wear the tie, but that would express the wrong ecclesio-political message in this context. Sigh.)

Loud ties! Gotta love the loud ties.

I’ve had a habit of occasionally wearing an oversized men’s dress shirt either tucked, untucked, or untucked-and-open-3/4-of-the-way over a wifebeater, with a tie, usually about once every other week or so, (and every day of the week, eight years ago, when I was a senior in high school.) I’ve been collecting the loudest and most “visually arresting” ties I can find for almost 10 years, I love ’em, love ’em, love ’em.

Recently, my father came up to my apartment with a boxful of about 30 ties that he’d gotten for $2 at an antiques auction, as a gift for me. They were all vintage ties from the late 60’s thru the 70’s, many of which would even make the most polyester-ized loud leisure suit wearing guy of the late 70’s cringe with their loudness. Needless to say, I love ’em and have been choosing my ties exclusively from this box since I recieved it. Unfortunately, since I’m in my mid-20’s (and look like I’m in my mid-teens,) who sports multicolored bangs with my Chelsea-cut hair, many people always assume I’m a lil’ Avril fan. *sigh*

Oh, and as for the Tredairs, sweet kicks, man. I’ve got the T.U.K Mary-Janes, red, with a black kitty-face applique’d in leather on the front. Fun shoes=goooood.

If I was able to tie a tie (yes I’m that helpless) I’d be wearing one quite regularly too. I must say the Loud Korean tie looks wicked!!! It almost reminds me of a Picasso or Dali painting I saw once (i’m not 100% sure it could’ve been someone entirely different, you get the idea).

There is something compelling about certain ugly ties. My friend and I found one we dubbed the “Tundra Tie” at the Goodwill Buy-the-Pound sale. It’s purples and blacks and is reminiscent of a new-agey rendition of a high northern landscape. Who would wear this tie? On the spot, we started writing a little skit about a First Nation leader sometime in the future who has a meeting with some very silly aliens. The tie spoke to us somehow, and we came up with its story. We plan to go back every once in a while and rescue more ugly lost ties.

The Loud Korean Tie really has something going for it. Erm, the pocket full of pens? This is also retro-nerd chic? Or just a convenient way of carrying around pens?

Gideon Strauss

Gideon: it’s a little of both. I take notes in four colours, and thought then pens along with the Global Pop Conspiracy button (“Overthrow the DJ!”) would also help the “riot nrrrd” look

ties always look good on good looking men, Joey. It’s like an arrow to your face. Or your crotch, depending on the height and personal inclinations of the viewer.


random person me needs to know where in niagara falls you got that tie!!!! I very much need a tie just like that, and am having trouble finding it.. please mail me at if you can help me, or remember where in niagara you got it

Leave a Reply