Archive for April, 2010

Special added bonus: Weekend Edition!

April 17, 2010

So, via the magic of wireless signals and the ingenuity, and chutzpah, of Al Gore (Version Junior), I get to sit at my laptop, in the privacy of my flat, sip coffee and peruse ties in what my Cajun family call caleçons.

My good friend Pat Hughes (check out his company, Inclusion Solutions…he’s an all-around great guy) turned me onto a tie designer located in Chicago–The Lee Allison Company. I dig the way the website plays out: when you look at a tie, they helpfully suggest others. The choice of fabrics is amazingly varied. Neckties are regularly priced at $90; bowties $52. That, as you probably can assume, is steep for thrifty old moi, but looking is free. They seemed to have over 100 tie styles (sound familiar?), even more with all the color choices within a particular pattern.

They have a loft studio in Bucktown…may have to take a field trip down there, if I can get my mom to sign my permission slip, that is.

The good, the bad, the worn.

While I sip on my coffee du jour, I’m pondering what I can do as 100 Days, 100 Ties marches on. It’s been wonderful having friends comment, on here and in person, and I am looking forward to getting some ties that are being sent. I got an idea the other day that I may need some help clarifying into a concept. I’d like to sell some ties for charity…not mine, really, I don’t think they’d go for much, but if I could get some celebrities, and maybe designers, to donate a tie or two, don’t you think a good cause could be helped? I’d love to hear your ideas…

And, where are my manners…in yesterday’s post, I forgot to say “Thanks for reading.” I’ll try not to let that courteslip-up happen again.

Thanks for reading (there, that’s better)…Brooke

He red, she said…

April 16, 2010

Happy TieDay, everyone. Weather-wise, it looked a little shady to start, but then a ray of sunshine appeared and made it a great day. Amazing how one little thing at the beginning of the day just sets the tone…

The final RTW tie

The Tie du Jour fits perfectly on a casual Friday: a skinny, red, vintage number from Arrow. The pattern on the stripe and the blackish-reddish mix (where it looks black in the pic) can only be accomplished via the magic of synthetic fabric. Anyway, I wasn’t sure that this was the same Arrow that puts out men’s dress shirts, but the label also says Cluett, Peabody & Co, Inc., which can trace its operations back over 150 years. This tie is NOT that old; it’s 50 years old, tops…

Cultural Reference Corner: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A city very close to my heart, my mom grew up about 40 miles away; my father was raised in New Orleans, about two hour’s drive, unless you’re Cajun, in which it would take merely an hour. Baton Rouge is translated to “Red Stick.” French explorer d’Iberville named it after finding that the Native Americans had marked their hunting territory with a large, red cypress stick.

Peace, ties and sunglasses!

We have a couple of Guys With Ties to write about here. The first is Chuck Johnson, who found it necessary to honk at me, with his entire family in tow, and plow across a lane of traffic to say hi. Come to think of it, that’s my kind of friend. Chuck and I were fraternity brothers at U. of Illinois, and he recently moved to Evanston, which is nice. He brought his family, which is nicer.

Next is my boss, Jonathan Perman. That link goes to his bio on the Chamber website, where he is not sporting a tie, ironically. I do like the fact that he is celebrating Red Tie Week, though. And just for shitsengiggles, here’s my profile…I’M sporting a tie. Yes, it’s my same picture as this blog one.

Well, it’s always sad to see a good thing end…but end it must. Thus, I bid adieu to the 1st Fifth Annual Red Tie Week.

With this ring I thee red…

April 15, 2010

Ah, the penultimate day of Red Tie Week. Well, we’ve got a good one today, one of my favorite ties; definitely my favorite red. I had a couple of big sales calls to make, so I needed to look my best. I was at Autobarn Nissan, asking about sponsoring our biggest yearly event, the Fountain Square Art Festival, and I went to Target (great time to be in the middle of Red Tie Week) to talk up the Chamber.

Red, white & blue on Tax Day

Our Tie du Jour is a Daniel Milano; comes from TJMaxx, but this brand seems to be among the highest-priced labels over there. Yes, that is like saying someone is King of the Dipshits, but I can tell it’s good quality. Good feel, perfect knot, and the texture is great. The solid red field that you see in the photo is actually tiny red & white checks (the world’s smallest picnic tablecloth). The tie, she pops; the tie, she shines.

I actually have a preview of a tie that I’ll be wearing next week, most likely Tuesday (why Tuesday? I don’t know, it just came to me). I may have mentioned this, but when I wore the knit tie (FULL-FASHIONED CROCHETED RAYON), I showed it to my friend Sarah Burghardt (who so happens to be dating my stepson Steven). I wanted to ask how hard it would be to knit a tie, thinking I could learn and fire one up by the end of Project 100D100T. Ha! In reality, I was hoping that she would take pity on me, realizing that learning to knit at 41 was not a likely happenstance.

Lucky for me and all possible happenstances, Sarah is, besides being a quick knitter, a very generous individual. She did knit me a tie for my birthday. She blogged about it here, with a great picture. Looking forward to wearing it, Sarah!

CultRef  Corner: UB40’s “Red Red Wine” was a hit in 1983. While the song has always been quite popular, what may not be as well-known is the fact that Neil Diamond wrote it. I wonder how his other tunes would sound when performed by a reggae/ska band such as UB40. Hopefully we shall never have to find out. Enjoy the cheesy video.

Alas, tomorrow is the last day of Red Tie Week. Thanks for reading…Brooke

A redtime story…

April 15, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who went to a new school for junior high. The principal, a short man who never blinked, made all the boys wear blue pants, white shirts and blue ties. Until 8th grade, that is, when the boys could wear whatever tie they wanted. This was good because these boys had begun puberty, and were beginning to have sweaty armpits; the ties focused the attention of the girls from the sister school on their ties and not their sweaty armpits. Then the boys went off to the big high school, where they could wear any shirt-pants-tie combo that they wished. This hardly helped, as the aforementioned puberty did little for their fashion sense. The aforementioned sister school girls had a much more enlightened sense of fashion, and they pointed and laughed at the high school boys. The boys thought they were really cool, and spent 3.75 years trying to impress at least one of the girls. Then, when it came time, they put all of this experience in matching ties with shirts into good use by spending $100 on renting a black&white tuxedo. Can’t spell ‘good times’ without T-I-E. Or ‘teen drinking’…

Well, we’ve rounded the turn of Red Tie Week, and are heading for the homestretch. My fable there probably won’t make Aesop’s tome, but it does show that I’ve got a little giddy-up this evening. So, let’s get down to the Tie du Jour.

Paisley from the House of Flintstone

My featured strip of fabric may, in fact, have been part of my high school tie-learning process. Pretty sure we’ve had it for years. I say ‘we’ because my brother, Grant (it’s his birthday today!) was three years behind me at Christian Brothers in Memphis, and inherited my ties. Then, a bunch of ’em stayed in the house for years on my Dad’s tie rack. He wore ties to work, with less frequency as time marched on. The ties survived, making a retirement move to Florida, and basically gathering dust, as they are not a requisite part of the golf & pool ensemble (at least not in the past several decades).

The label says Hawkes & Keynes, London, but my guess is that my folks picked it up from a London street vendor. While the pattern is kinda cool–the paisleys seem to have been created in blue Sharpie and yellow Hi-Liter–there isn’t much liner going on. When you don a really quality tie, you can tell by the knotting, and just kind of how it flows between your hands. Hard to explain.

Anyway, I put this with a new (to me) suit that I found at the Hadassah House Resale Shop, at 5020 W. Dempster in Skokie. It’s from Yves Saint Laurent, a beautiful brown Glen plaid (aka Prince of Wales check) with a red (what else? It’s RED! TIE! WEEK!) stripe cutting through it. Throw in a blue scarf-cum-pocketsquare, and I was in bidness.

Honestly, Abe, is that a clip-on?

A couple mornings per week I volunteer to help with a reading discussion group in my daughter’s 3rd-grade class at Lincoln School. This morning I was greeted by a statue of a man in a tall suit, which was topped off by a large tie. Yes, Abe Lincoln makes the Guys With Ties section today. Not sure if this was the bow tie fashion of the day, but Mr. Penny/Mr. Five-Dollar Bill was the leader of the free world…well, save for the other half of his own counry.

Since we had a sort of cultural reference bit in this posting already (the Glen plaid), let’s keep it short…

Red Dawn (1984), a movie made during the years for fears brought to you by Ronald Reagan, is an action film based on a fictional occupation of parts of the US, brought on by the Soviet Union (I linked you to the Soviet’s Wiki page, because we now have college-age students who have no clue what the USSR is), Cuba and their allies. Patrick Swayze & Charlie Sheen, among others, portray high schoolers who escape the initial assault, only to become engaged in guerrilla warfare against the baddies. Ladies & Gents…Red Dawn.

Wow, this was a long one…thanks for reading.


Another hole in the red…

April 13, 2010

Despite my advancing age, I was able to remember Red Tie Week this morning when picking out my tie to wear. Kinda starts the day off well to pass such a test. You laugh, but in my first work day here at the flat (‘apartment’ has too many syllables), I forgot to shave; on the 2nd day, I went out the door deodorantless. I keep an extra at the office, thanks be to Mennen. Hmm, let’s file this paragraph under Too-Much-Information…

Doctor, I see spots...

All hygienic procedures aside, it’s Day 2 of Red Tie Week. The excitement is palpable, and today’s Tie du Jour from Bullock & Jones (whoa…the Geneva Stripe Shirt on the B&J home page is KILLER. whoa again…it’s $150) is a worthy addition to the week’s offerings. I found it at the Salvation Army store at Kedzie & Chicago Avenue, right here in Evanston, and probably paid $2-3, a steal. The shirt is a vintage Marshall Field’s with French cuffs…pretty fun to pair up with this tie and a red pocket scarf that I have…

I have another addition to Guys With Ties…Mark Daniels, a fellow Dad at Lincoln School, is lookin’ straight into the sun. Thank goodness he’s borrowed my sunglasses…his striped tie and shirt combo look pretty good with his unnecessary raincoat. Perhaps he’s celebrating Charcoal Tie Week at his house.

Mark ponders joining Red Tie Week festivities

Day 2’s Cultural Reference Corner centers on Red Buttons, a Borscht-Belt comedian who seems to have been a regular on the Friar’s Club Roasts during their heyday. This video of his roast of Frank Sinatra is worth a few laughs…plus the cavalcade of 60s/70s comedy stars is pretty fun to see.

I’d like to mention again how amusing it has been to keep this going. A lot of you have told me that you’re enjoying it, in person and in comments. Y’all are a main reason that I know I’ll keep going. Pretty sure this one is Tie No. 21. Pretty sure that No. 22 will be red, too…if I remember Red Tie Week, that is.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Better off Red…

April 12, 2010

Discovery Channel has Shark Week. Due to budget constraints, and a not-so-surprising lack of Killer White footage, 100 Days, 100 Ties merely has Red Tie Week to offer. So there.

I have an inordinate number of red ties…I am perfectly capable of counting this high, but I would guess that I have 10-12 ties that are red-majority, and most of those are relatively simple. If I don’t do some sort of conglomeration offering them as the Ties du Jour, then there will be a backup near the end of the project. And who wants that?

Red. Tie. Repeat.

Today’s offering is a rather simple silk tie from Brooks Brothers. A patterned duo of red tones with small flowers in twoshades of blue. Pair it up with my blue shirt for one of my most conservative looks; of course I have added a red/white pocket square (okay, okay, it’s a small scarf) as well as a pair of Murano glass cuff links to lessen the right-leaning undertone.

And, looking over the Guys With Ties file, I see that this past Friday, I snapped a shot of

Next time I'll say 'Smile' BEFORE I take the pic.

Taji Jacob, who works for a firm, Pension Specialists, that subleases office space here at Chamber Inter-Galactic HQ (thx AC). As luck would have it, he was sporting a red tie, apparently giddy with anticipation for RTW.

All this talk about Red has me thinking about one of my favorite comedies, “Midnight Run.” One of the many fantastic scenes finds our heroes at Red’s Corner Bar. Consider this the first of many cultural reference lessons of (altogether now, with your best ‘Wheel of Fortune’ shouting voice) RED! TIE! WEEK!

Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm, or at least enduring it, for la semaine des cravattes rouges!

And, as always, thanks for reading…Brooke

Casual Tieday…

April 10, 2010

Well, as I basked in the afterglow of my birthday, it dawned on me that today was Friday. Kind of a perfect post birthday day, if you ask me, especially when it comes after what was kind of a perfect birthday.

Social media is a great way to get a lot of well-wishers come to the birthday party, so to speak. I always find it very funny, on Facebook, to send along birthday greetings to someone I’ve known for 20+ years after never knowing their birthday prior to this year. “Hey [Insert Jr High Classmate here], even though I never ever knew your birthday while we were face-to-face friends, I’d love to pass along Bday greetings because we’re such great facebook-to-facebook friends!”

Back to Fridays. I started my job at the Evanston Chamber in early- to mid-June last year, and around about August, our executive director, Jonathan Perman (no tie in this profile pic), mentioned to me that we observe casual Fridays in the summer. Gee, thanks, Boss. Can I expense the bill for the suits that I sweat through on those hot July days?

I did go tie-less a couple of times, but realized that impromptu member/prospect meetings were too usual an occurrence to get too casual. Alas, no flip-flops and/or muscle Ts. On the positive side, there are pairings that are achievable that don’t necessarily go with a suit.

This tie with this plaid? Not bad!

Today’s tie, a nice sky blue solid with a little grain goin’ on, is rather simple, but with this plaid shirt it turns out to be summery enough (despite temps in the 40s today). It’s from Michael Kors, and the offset grain makes it look pinstripe-y and helps it pop out from the shirt a bit more. I even threw on a jeans jacket to get a little suburban cowboy-esque. Go, birthday boy, go.

Tie du Jour #19 marks the end of the 4th week of 100 Days, 100 Ties, and I’d like to thank folks for giving me a reason to keep writing this. It would be fun for me if there were no one reading, but your feedback, in person and online, has made it a blast.

My pit of vipers pile o’ ties has made it onto my newly-reinstalled tie rack, and it made me think of a couple of weekly themes that I could try: Ugly tie week, Blue tie week, Plain red tie week, etc. Suggestions welcome, even if you claim that a tie from the past 4 weeks should be included in the Ugly Tie Week…

Now I call upon you to post things that would make this blog more interesting: memories of a family member’s favorite (or ugly) tie, stores (thrift or regular) where great ties can be found or just pictures of ties in your repertoire.

Thanks for reading, and thanks again for the bday wishes…Brooke

Happy, Happy Birthday to Me

April 8, 2010

Some people have a problem with their birthdays. They will go great lengths to avoid cakes at the office, presents from friends, general recognition, etc. Not me. I have no problem letting folks know that my birthday is coming up, nor do I find myself reluctant to say “It’s my birthday” whether or not I know the person to whom I’m speaking.

That said, it’s my 41st birthday, and just because I’m in an even-numbered mood (more feng shui you know), let’s put that number at 42. [Insert tasteful multiple-birthday-candle-, or forgetfulness-related  joke here].

Thin is in!

Today’s Tie du Jour is a fun one to write about, and not just because I’m hopped up on birthday cake from Fraîche, on Noyes Street here in Evanston. I’ll also admit that I indulged in an almond croissant this morning from there, too. Go check out what Susan, Mari and the gang have in store for you–one good bite after another, I promise.

I bought this tie at Unique Thrift Store, if memory serves. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was way too wide for my taste, and I just went over to see Wafa at A-1 Tailor on Dempster, just west of Chicago Avenue. He has worked wonders for us over the years, doing anything from sewing a Harry Caray patch on my Cubs jersey, to altering a suit. His prices are fair, and he does great work. He has bettered many of my treasures.

As soon as I saw my new, thinner tie, I was ecstatic. Somehow the narrower strip makes the pattern stand out even more. I couldn’t wait to wear it, so it took me all of a day.

Mr. Zanayed and I have always had nice mini-conversations, but this time I spent a good fifteen minutes, being regaled with some cool stories from his early career in Palestine. His expertise has always been suits, and I can tell he knows what he’s doing. I even have a few suits from resale shops, and those need some adjustments, and he has really helped me save some money.

Wafa told me about a woman who came to his shop last year with a piece of fabric, and wanted to surprise her husband

Great sweater, great tie, great tailor

for his birthday with a custom-made tie. Wafa took apart an old tie to see how to put it back together, and produced a beautiful surprise. It cost around $100, but the husband loved it so much she came back this year with another fabric.

And now here’s a teaser for another TdJ: he showed me a tie that had been waiting for its owner for a year and a half. He offered it to me for what the previous owner owed on it, so for $5 I got a great new tie. Sorry, Mr. Deadbeat Tie Owner…

Speaking of tie owner, my original number was 116, but I found 4 here at the office (do not knot unless in an emergency) and have bought around 8-10 since starting 100 Days, 100 Ties. So, by rudimentary math standards, that puts us at 130 or so. Yeesh. I need to start giving some of these away. Seriously, if you know of someone who wants a tie, or perhaps a college graduate who could use a few, let me know. I’d be happy to wear 1 or 5 in a row with the idea that I could mail them at the end of the day or week. Let’s get creative.

Thanks for reading, thanks for the birthday wishes…


Am I blue?

April 8, 2010

If I’m the Tie du Jour, then the answer to the question is “Yes.” But, I’m not the TdJ, so the answer is most decidedly “No, not blue at all.” As I am starting this post, I am officially 5 minutes away from my birthday, so bully for me.

Now that I’ve got the mood section of today’s blog out of the way, let’s get to the subject at hand. Our tie this evening–and now it’s after midnight, which makes it three days in a row that I’m late on my blog–is a deep blue with even deeper blue stripes. It’s from Emanuel Ungaro, and I think it’s a knockout with this pink shirt and silver tie clip. The link takes you to their English home page, and the fashions shown there are certainly much more haute than this tie; nonetheless, I dig it.

For some 30- and 40-somethings, the name ‘Emanuel’ calls to mind the Cinemax (aka SCinemax or Cinema-X) soft-porn, dubbed-from-Italian flicks that related the sexual escapades/adventures of the heroine, Emanuelle. I, however, have absolutely no recall of this series…none whatsover, and whatever my brother says to deny this statement is false.

Now, in the spirit of Cinemax’s forté, I’m afraid I am going to put a bit of a teaser in right now, about tomorrow’s tie. But, I’m so excited about writing about this morning’s happenstance that a-teasing I will go.

Last week I donned a tie that I’d never worn. It is definitely a Salvation Army or Unique find, and I’ve always thought it was a bit wide for my, and the rest of the world’s (besides my Uncle Elmore-who-was-really-a-cousin-but-we-called-him-Uncle-Elmore), taste. So, I wore another tie and took the highway-width offender to Wafa Zenayed, proprietor A-1 Tailor at 610 Dempster, just a block west of Chicago Avenue, to see if he could make it a bit thinner. No problem, he said, come back next week.

I’ll wear the tie that he fixed tomorrow on my birthday, and tell you more about our great conversation.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for singing the following song…

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Brookie, Happy Birthday to You.


Late again…ties in transit

April 7, 2010

The pit of vipers

More adventures in moving…

So I had this nice tie rack that was very difficult to move off of the Swedish/Norwegian/Overpricese closet system; try though I might to move them together, all hanging nicely, I screwed up. They ended up making the move in a fresh new kitchen trash bag. Not very pleasant for them, I’m sure, but it did the trick. This pic shows them in their unkempt, unhanging state. Hard to believe all of these (provided I don’t get hit by a bus, or a tailor’s van) will grow up to be Ties du Jour. Sniff…they’re growing so fast.

Speaking of those meddling kids, let me get to yesterday’s featured tie. It has been crazy at work and at the new home, which shouldn’t be any different, but for some reason it’s taking me a few days to get a routine in place.

One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater

The Tie du Jour is from Eagle Shirtmakers. It’s a well-made tie, very good quality fabric, even if it’s a simple purple-based pattern. I can tell a decent tie if the knot holds its shape. Speaking of knots, I usually tie a half-windsor, which is symmetrical and tends to have a larger knot than a four-in-hand. If anyone ever needs help with a knot, I can certainly help. It’d be a lot easier if you go to, and let bespectacled gentleman Johann Isemer show you how to fire up the Windsor, Half-Windsor, Pratt & Four-in-Hand knots. He says it’s not rocket science.

Thanks for reading…Brooke