Archive for March, 2010

Can’t spell ‘radioactive’ without T-I-E…

March 31, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to googling the designer of the Tie du Jour. Bruno Rossi came up more prominently as an experimental physicist. According to Bruno’s Wikipedia page, he lived quite an exciting life: he won awards, he fled Italy’s fascist regime, he discovered muons and he just basically had a bitchin’ time being smart.

Buongiorno, Bruno!

Here’s where I link him to ties…I’ll throw him into the Guys With Ties bin. Check out this knitted tie! How I wish it were a color shot! The difference in grains on each stripe is molto bene…you just know ol’ Bruno had some co-ed admirers on campus–Italian accent, physics brain…per favore, signorina!

Onward, to today’s selection. As you can tell, it’s from Bruno Rossi, who seems to be more noted, though not that much more, as a purse designer, according to the BagBunch blog.

A very light gray is the backdrop for polka dots of various colors–pinks and blues. It really stood out at the Unique Thrift Store a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it wouldn’t take much to stand out over there, but it did.

Are you seeing spots?

There is a slight smudge off-camera, very hard to tell unless you’re looking for it. Which reminds me of a time-tested adage if you’re looking to start shopping around at thrift stores and resale shops. Adage schmadage: there are some things you need to do while treasure-hunting to ensure that you don’t immediately put in your own reject pile. I’ll go over one of them here; the rest I’ll cover later.

When you find something interesting, you need to tell a story to yourself. Begin that story with a simple premise: Why is this here? You can have fun with this…if it’s a shirt or pants, maybe the previous owner gained weight. Lost weight. Lost virginity. Sometimes the reason can be found. In this instance, there was the smudge. On a great pair of jeans, it may be that the zipper is broken; or perhaps a tiny hole on an otherwise immaculate dress shirt.

Obviously, sometimes the story is not obvious, and that’s where treasures are waiting to be discovered. A wardrobe could have been cleaned out by a girlfriend, or a fed-up mother who would like her 32-year old ‘little boy’ to get his own place. There is always a reason that something fun finds its way to you; just be sure to know it before you get it home.

Well, enjoy your evening. As always, thanks for reading…



Happy Birthday to Julia

March 30, 2010

Good story with this tie, and with this day…

My little big girl turned 9 today, and I had the day off to help her celebrate a full day of being spoiled. She and Diane are leaving in a few hours for Costa Rica (a little mommy-daughter spring break trip), which will be the topper of the birthday celebrations.

We went to dinner at N9ne Steakhouse, which fits in with the 9 theme of the day, but it’s a bit fancier than Chuck E. Cheese or American Girl Place. Quite a bit. Our tradition is that the birthday celebratee gets to pick the site of the family dinner. Steven picked N9ne for his 19th birthday, and family legend recalls that he ordered all of the items on the dessert menu by calling out, “One of each!” and twirling his finger in the air, a la John Candy’s Orange Whip order in Blues Brothers.

The food was superb, the desserts imaginative and Kelly, our server, was infinitely patient with our eclectic table of 10. And, yes, Julia ordered the entire dessert menu…”One of each!” And they all came with a candle, and the restaurant serenaded her.

Oak Hall, for Ladies & Gentlemen...

So, yes, this is a fashion blog (that may be a stretch), not a culinary one; so before dinner, I let Julia pick my tie and she selected this black tie, with olive, red and yellow adornment, from Gitman Bros. Kind of interesting, in that I don’t wear it much anymore, but there’s a story with it. I’m actually surprised I still know where I got this…even know who sold it to me.

When I was about to graduate from college, I needed some interview suits, and hopefully those suits would turn into they-actually-hired-you-so-now-you-need-to-go-to-work-not-looking-like-a-schlub suits. So, I went to see one of my brother’s best friends, Anthony Dionne, who worked at Oak Hall in Memphis. He sold me a couple of suits (one of which, a dark olive, went perfectly with this tie) and two or three ties, and this one is the last remnant of that very sale. Way to go, ‘Toine…you sold me a good one. At least it will be viewed 18 years later by, if I’m lucky, 18 people.

That’s a great thing about ties. As long as they’re classically designed, colored and styled, they can come and go within a wardrobe for years. I have seen some awful ties at resale shops that I can hardly see how or when they were in style. But, I keep my eyes open for ones in basic colors that still catch the eye with a timeless quality that demonstrates that the designer knew what he or she was doing. I’m sure some of you will deem some of my ties too ugly for blog content, but I am pretty confident that I have very few F-uglies on my tie rack.

Enjoy the end of March. Happy Birthday, my beautiful Julia.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Two-hour tie…

March 29, 2010

It’s spring break, but not MTV-style. Actually, does that analogy still hold true? Does MTV still have live coverage of spring breakers in Padre, Daytona, Cabo, Vail, etc? I’m actually really glad I don’t know that…

Today I’m dragging my daughter Julia (who is turning 9 tomorrow) to the Evanston Chamber‘s Board Meeting at noon. I asked her to pick my tie for the meeting, and she displayed her taste by picking one of my favorites. It’s another one from the folks at BCBG, and I’ll miss it for the next few months.

Our special guest at the meeting will be Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, who maintains the City’s blog. He was appointed last fall, and has done a fantastic job during a tough economic situation. Maybe I’ll take a pic of him and put it in Guys With Ties…

Wally, my favorite City Manager

Well, Wally is not only doing a great job, he is a good sport. He agreed to pose with his bright orange tie. He says he has a dearth of orange ties from his days involved with Syracuse University. Wally joins Lehman Walker as the City’s representatives in the ‘Guys With Ties’ section.

I was able to snap another GWT during my short stint at the Board Meeting. Jaime Varela, branch manager of the two Harris Bank branches in Evanston (Maple Avenue & Central Street). Jaime sported a classic dark blue patterned tie. Muy lindo, amigo.

Jaime, my favorite Colombian

My parents arrived this evening to help me with my move. In case you didn’t know, I am moving into an apartment this weekend. Diane and I are splitting up, after 13 years of marriage. She and Julia are heading to Costa Rica for a few days, and I’ll be moving in on Friday. I have full custody of all of my ties.

I don’t mean to use this blog to air out my personal situation (and I will most definitely not offer a play-by-play; Diane is too class an act for me to do that), but I figured I’d let you know, as I’m sure it will affect my mood from time to time over the next 90-ish business days.

Thanks very much for reading. Follow me on twitter @cajunbrooke or @100days100ties


Hundert Tage, hundert Krawatten

March 26, 2010

So, I speak French relatively fluently (wine-aided), and I would love to learn Spanish and then Italian.  And, yet, here we go with a German lesson? Hundred days, hundred ties, jawohl!

The label shows their tag line (I guess): Mit Der Schwarzen Rose (with the black rose). Creative bit of German marketing, calling to mind a burnt flower, not to mention the Rolling Stones song, Dead Flowers:

Send me dead flowers to my wedding,
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.

Schöne Krawatte (good-looking tie)

Well, jumping from the lovely sentiment from Mick & Keith, today we have a tie from Diolen Star Krawatte that I just love. This one will be hard to avoid wearing over the next 90 tie-wearing days.  That’s right! This is Tie No. 10–cool blue edges with a great, two-tone pattern in the middle.

For the tie bar, I need to give some props to the blog The Sartorialist.  Scott Schuman writes under this nom de blog, and snaps pictures in Milan, LA, New York, Paris, etc, of people displaying a high sense of fashion during their normal walk of life.  I have enjoyed his monthly, 1-page feature in GQ for quite some time, and have recently begun following him on Twitter.

Anyway, one of his tweets led me to this entry, of a Milanese gentleman sporting a club-collared shirt. My eyes went to his tie (of course), and I realized that a tie bar could extend over the edges of the tie. Anyway, I had this sharp, blue tie clip and decided it would be okay to wear it on my thin tie today.

Next week will be hit or miss, as it’s spring break time.  I’ll be coming into work briefly for maybe three of the days, so if you check in later on in the week, I should have two or three new ties to show off.

Have a great weekend…thanks for reading. –Brooke

The combo platter…

March 25, 2010

Sometimes a tie just goes perfectly with a certain shirt. I’ve worn this combo 3 or 4 times since starting at the Chamber, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever put a different tie with this shirt. The red/gray (that’s ‘grey’ to our British readers) motif catches the eye, I think (sorry, it’s hard to see in the photo, but the red pinstripes are actually snug next to gray ones). The pocket square reminds me of a little campfire.

Got a pocketsquare Jones, oh baby oooh ooh ooh...

This beauty from Jones New York is definitely a part of a mix that I’ll miss while I go through the exercise of wearing all of my ties before I sport them again. Perhaps I’ll come up with a ‘ReRun Week’ or ‘Withdrawal Week’ for the shirt/tie pairings I like the best.

Today I did something I haven’t done in perhaps 20-25 years…I won a trophy. Yes, the McGaw YMCA B-League Winter Session racquetball championship (known in these parts as the McG.Y.M.C.A.B-L.W.S.r.c.–it’s pronounced McGimka-blewzerk) crown went to yours truly. I did not wear a tie, but I’m sure that, since I dressed like a champion, I became a…yeah, whatevs.

A couple of friends have generously offered to send ties for me to wear and write about. It would be my honor to sport something that is special to you and/or your family. Just send them to me at: Brooke Saucier, 495 Sheridan Road #1W, Evanston, IL 60202. If you need ’em back, slip a couple bucks in the package…

I’m also going to be giving some of these ties away. If you particularly like one or the other and give me sufficient reason, I’ll get it to you. Sending an SASE would help in the ‘sufficient reason’ department.

One more ‘Guys With Ties’ today: It’s Lehman Walker, the City of Evanston‘s Director of Community Development. I met Lehman this morning at the City/Chamber meeting, and his blue-on-blue tie brightened the room.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Miffed about a Thrift…

March 24, 2010

I have a problem. An addiction, really. To thrift stores, resale shops, what have you. I like finding new ones, and checking them out. And now, I’m sad that one here in Evanston is moving to the city.

Thriftgeek on Davis Street in Evanston is packing up the plantation next week. I stopped in yesterday to say hello, and was bummed to find out that they had not renewed their lease. Co-owner Susan Ganem is sad to go, but they just ended up on a block that was not conducive to much walkabout traffic. Here’s an Evanston Now article about Thriftgeek from last summer.

As a moving sale, the lion’s share of the items in the store are 50% off. Of course, given those prices, I had to take a look at their ties, and I found four new (to me) ones for my collection. After discovering 4 ties that I keep at work in case of forgetfulness (not likely) or soup-spillage, that brings me up to 124 ties. (I should probably also admit that, this afternoon, I dropped off some stuff at Salvation Army on Kedzie and found three more. 127. Yes, I have a problem.)

Tie No. 8...Thin is in

The Tie du Jour (Tie No. 8), purchased at that very session yesterday, brought me a nice compliment today. At a meeting with Northwestern University’s Career Services, Betsy Gill said I was “very Mad Men today.” Somehow I don’t think the gents at Sterling Cooper did their shopping at Montgomery Ward, but I thanked her immediately.

This thin, maroon number (yes, it has a Montgomery Ward tag) with gold thread decor, is fashioned (I use that term loosely here) from 50% Dacron Polyester and 50% Orlon Acrylic. Yeesh, good thing I’m not allergic to crappy synthetics.

Back to Thriftgeek…if you’re looking for fun stuff to decorate your home, office or apartment, it’s definitely worth a trip. They, like me, are very obviously into finding ‘treasures’ and passing them along to folks who’d really enjoy owning them. It’s just fun eyeing all the fun stuff in there, and it’s too bad they’re heading out. But, they won’t be far, and I will definitely make a special trip to visit them in their new digs on the 3800 block of N. Lincoln (3848 or 3858, if memory serves).

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell & accessorize

Oh, and I also picked up this pocket square, which was probably born as a small scarf. ‘Twas made for this tie, n’est-ce pas? Thanks for reading.


Every picture tells a story…

March 23, 2010

…but every tie? Not so much.

With several of my ties, there are personal histories attached, and I’m sure there are even forgotten tales that have long since been detached. In the first week it’s been easy to grab ones with a story; today I purposefully chose one without.

Something Old, Nothing New, Something Resale, Something Blue

Tie No. 7 is a brand, ISACO, that I’ve never heard of. I just liked the color, a deep royal blue, and thought it would go well with some of my shirts. I bought this at Unique Thrift Store, at Western & Howard sometime last fall. All of their ties are 99 cents, and, depending on the color of their tag, can be 25-50% off.  Good chance this tie was 50 cent (with a tie this cheap, it should definitely not be pronounced Fitty-Cent).

I sported this look today at our monthly Networking Breakfast (NeBr) event. It was amusing that several people asked about 100 Days, 100 Ties, and even more fun that a couple of folks said they’d give me a tie for the blog.

A little bit on my job, for those of you who don’t know…I’m the Manager of Membership, Marketing & Development for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. It is truly the first job I really love. It sounds corny to say, but I have a great time every day. Each day is very different from the last, and I’m bummed to leave at 7pm (heheh, yeah right, I never stay that late). It’s the complete opposite of my tenure in the banking industry, where creativity goes to die. The soul-sucking, monotonous routine really did a number on me. I probably should have said, “No comment,” but the big banks of the world can kiss my ascot.

Great bow tie, Dr Vince

Green on green...lookin' good, DFish

Back to the NeBr…a couple of guys were wearing some cool ties, and I thought I’d add a pic or two. I’ll call it my GuysWithTies section. Armed with my trusty roving iphone camera, I’ll try to show you what’s out there…

Be sure to read tomorrow…it’ll be a clip about a really fun tie that goes with a sad, store story. And, later this week, Thursday or Friday, I may give away the Tie du Jour. Just shows what a generous fella I am.

Thanks for reading…Brooke the Generous Fella

A phrase you never thought you’d read…

March 22, 2010

If you thought the Little Brick Shirt House label was good, you’re going to love this one. Four words, innocuous enough when solo, creating a collective oxymoron: Full Fashioned Crochet Rayon.

In case you didn't realize fashion could be fractional. It's FULL FASHIONED!

Those words just roll off the tongue, don’t they? Well, someone at the Wembley Necktie company thought it would. It’s one thing to claim the level of fashion, another to admit that something is crocheted, much less rayon. I know they didn’t have this movie quote from ‘Animal House’–90RAYON–to help them know about rayon’s unhipness, but still…

Tie #6

Rayon = stay on

Anyway, this is my only knit tie, and thanks to the Wembley copywriter, we know it was crocheted out of England’s finest and most fully-fashionable rayon. It’s a great blue with grey slanted stripes, and it reminds me of my high school days. Yep, at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, I had to wear a tie to school every day. After 4 years of such suppression by ‘The Man’ I don’t know how I came to like wearing ties by now. I’d call it a maturity thing, but those of you who know me will call out my initials.

I have to admit that, after writing this blog for only a week, I missed it over the weekend. Probably a welcome break, but I definitely thought about which ties to wear this week. All of the feedback, even from Neil the Sassy British Fashion Wizard, was very welcomed, and it is quite motivating.

Thanks for reading. Welcome to the 2nd week of 100 Days, 100 Ties.


It’s all in a label…

March 19, 2010

A few years ago I was employed as a teaching aide in a preschool here in Evanston: the appropriately named School for Little Children. I’d love to think that I made an impression on the 20 of them in terms of caring, sharing and daring. However, the only instance that has been reported to me by more than one of the parents is something that I said all the time.

The kids often asked–about an art project, a Lego creation, or a tea party seating arrangement (trust me: NEVER seat Barbie next to Sock Monkey…just too much history there)–me if I liked something or other. My stock, smirked response was, “I don’t like it (pause to allow disappointment to set in)…I LOVE IT!” Eventually they knew it was coming, but we had a hit. Apparently this became the stock response for a couple of the kiddos when they got to kindergarten and beyond.

Thank goodness I didn’t answer, “Nah, that really sucks”, right?! Sometimes the mind works with you.

What a quaint little shi(r)t house!

Anyway, I don’t like the label on this tie…wait for it…did I ruin your day?…I LOVE IT. The Little Brick Shirt House?! Where is the Devon Style Center, and when can I go find the person responsible for this cheeky, spastically sarcastic name of their company? I wish to thank them for not taking themselves too seriously, while still knowing how to pick some great fabric for a tie.

The world's premier wrist model...available for parties!

I hope the pictures turn out well on this one. The label pic should be visible, but the pattern on this tie is fantastic. A brilliant red, almost crimson, interwoven with a yellow green, some black and a little blue and gray. Wow, that sounds terrible, written out like that, but it looks great. A pick up at the Unique Thrift Store at Western & Howard, just across the border from Evanston into Chicago.

Today’s ensemble even includes a matching watchband…a few months ago I found a Hilfiger watch set that included 4 colorful canvas bands. Doesn’t match the pattern, of course (perhaps only the tiemaker’s aunt’s couch does), but the red, green and dark blue are all represented.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.


New to Me

March 18, 2010

I’m often asked if a tie–or a shirt, or a suit–is new. Usually it’s not new, right off the rack, since I buy a relatively large percentage of my garb at various resale shops. But I like the feeling of a debut, a grand opening if you will, that comes with wearing something for the first time. One single comment (and believe me, that St Patty’s tie y’day procured several) is much appreciated.

Bon chic, bon genre...bon prix!

This is from BCBG, and really has some great stripes that fall into a sort of large plaid. Three or four blues and a purple go nicely right along some grayish earth tones. It was completely unlike any of the other ties at Marshall’s ($9 or so), and it is now completely unlike any on my tie rack.

My patronage of Marshall’s, TJMaxx and other discount stores comes honestly, through good old-fashioned genes. My Mom & Dad have to be one of their biggest supporters, nationwide. Before they both got iPhones (about 2 years before I did…they’re very cutting-edge retirees) and could GPS their way anywhere, they would call me on driving trips and ask to google for the address of one of these places in the nearest city. “Brooke, could you find out if there’s a TJMaxx in Paducah–and tell us how to get there?” “Um, sure, Mom, please allow me to stop working so that you may better the economy of Western Kentucky…” Who’s the child of whom here?

Speaking of iPhones, I have to say my camera has come through the past couple of days…it probably knew it was on the verge of losing out to an older camera. These gadgets are all talking to each other, you know…

Thanks for reading…Brooke