Don’t Fear the Tie Tack : A Symbol of Audacity

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

Don’t Fear the Tie Tack : A Symbol of Audacity

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

We have a motto: It’s never about the clothes or accessories…it’s about how the clothes or accessories make you and others feel. And when it comes to tie tacks, it’s hard to deny that this accessory can make you feel that you are making a statement.

When donning a tie tack, well-bred wealthy English gentlemen of the early 1800s did not lament about damaging their fine silk / satin ties or their starch-dusted cambric or muslin cravats with the prick of a tie pin. As a neckwear controlling device, the pin also represented personal expression through a single pearl, gemstone or precious metal, or even a monogram.

By 1860, the emotion created by the tie pin had caught on, as middle/upper class Englishmen joined the tie tack craze, with pins forged of all sorts of materials, shapes and designs.  At this time, men felt free to express themselves with this small and often delicate style symbol without anguishing over the tiny hole the pin made on their ties…a sort of English sprezzatura, if you will.

But, as our own handwritten-signature is becoming obsolete today, the tie pin as a form of personal expression became practically obsolete after the 1960s, as men simply slipped the loose end of their ties into the keeper loop on the underside of the cravat and perhaps opted for a lovely tie bar to hold the tie in place.

Yet today, using the keeper loop feels passé and boring. The attitude towards ties seems to be that a tie should be brought to life with an expressive tie knot twist that projects the fabric forward, a tie bar that adds a nice bend to the tie line , or a tail that sometimes hangs longer than the front of the tie.

We like the idea of tie tacks. And, while it may not be wise to inject holes into every tie with these pins, those perfectly nice but lonely cravats in the closet that rarely see the light of day may be brought to life by adding a tack. And, of course knit ties already have natural holes and are great candidates for tie pins, not to mention larger tie tacks can be used as lapel pins by removing the chain.

TACK ADVOCATE JAMES SHERWOOD

I’ve had the pleasant occasion to meet up with James Sherwood a few times. Although strong in his convictions but perhaps a little more timid than people realize, James has a natural aristocratic presence with a twist…once you get to know him, he can become quintessentially endearing without warning by flashing an unpredictable down-to-earth demeanor that puts others at ease.

When donning a tie, James almost always wears a tie pin. And he is inevitably questioned about his pin.

With a simple “Tell me about your pin?”…suddenly a conversation ensues.

And, if one suit accessory spawns a discussion, this is it.  Wearing a tie pin requires a certain audacity, since it directly assaults the tie. And like a tattoo, except piercing fabric instead of skin, the choice of the tie tack usually symbolizes a sentiment or if it is vintage–a story.

There is a certain decadence associated with the tie pin since it is well known that the pin will make tiny holes in the tie. But for the men who dare, here we see some nice selections for gentlemen who prefer their ties tacked:

 

further reading:

The Financial Times: In With the Pin

How to Use a Tie Tack

J. Robinson, Stickpins: Tiny Works of Art