The closest I'll ever get to so called "novelty" neckties. Not a Tasmanian Devil, Wile E. Coyote, or Pepé Le Pew to be found. Thank you for helping me with the correct spellings of these characters' names Old School!
Accessories, carefully chosen, allow one to have a bit of fun and express some personality when dressed to the nines. Among my 90 or so neckties -- I know, I know. -- are a few critter and club ties that make the rounds several times a year between late August and mid-May when I have occasion to leave the house and appear on campus looking pulled together. While very few men in 2017 actually need anywhere near that many neckties, it has always struck me as sad when I have crossed paths with the occasional grown man at a formal event or job interview, and that person clearly owns no other necktie besides one with a cartoon character on it.
If a man in our overly casual age has just one necktie hanging in his closet, I suggest that it might be either an understated repp stripe tie, or a dark solid like a navy or black grenadine weave since these kinds of ties will work with just about anything from a full suit, to a navy blazer worn with gray flannel dress pants or creased khakis, to a tweed sports jacket and a pair of corduroys. Of course, if you appreciate the beauty of, and the slightly more formal air suggested by, a well chosen necktie (Yeah, we are out there.), there are plenty of other kinds that you might add to your rotation. These range from less formal knitted silk and wool weaves to muted wool plaids, houndstooth, and tartans at one end of the necktie spectrum to the more shiny silk Glen Plaid numbers like you might see at more formal weddings that are not strict 'white tie' affairs.
Whatever you do, and assuming you are over the age of 12, however, steer clear of the Elmer Fudd neckties. Ok, Gomer? At best, you come across like an unsophisticated rube who knows no better, which is hardly the impression you want to make. That brings us back around to the subject of the critter and club neckties pictured above. Critter neckties enable a guy to impart a bit more irreverent personality to his attire, even when suited up, without straying into the dreaded cartoon character territory. Club ties allow a man to show an affiliation with, or membership in, his particular organization of choice without painting his face and flabby bare torso in the colors of his favorite professional sport team. David Puddy anyone?
Pictured above are the various critter and club ties that are part of my own necktie collection. My personal favorites are the wine colored parrot tie brought to me from Italy by my parents 20 plus years ago for dog and house-sitting while they traveled in Northern Italy during a summer-long stint my professor step-father had doing something for the U.N. in Trento. The next favorite has to be my navy blue pheasant tie from J. Press although the newer Ivy Style tie at center runs a close second to it.
The cream colored bicyclist tie was given to me by my in-laws a few days before The Grand Duchess and I finally married in June 2006. Yep, before we had our son, my wife and I were avid road cyclists (my better half raced while at university), sometimes managing 200 miles a week in the saddle during summers. Sadly, that is a thing of the past at the moment until we can get The Young Master (7) riding on his own although he does tandem pretty well with his mother already. The yellow and red Orvis tie, on the other hand, is a wry nod to my late fly-tying and fly-fishing father, who somehow always managed to suck the life and joy out of an activity that should otherwise have been fun! Probably why I haven't been fishing since I was nine or ten, a looooong time ago at this point, but I do like the necktie.
Moving right along, the navy whale and green prawn ties allow me to be a bit silly without straying too far beyond the parameters of reasonably good taste, although P.G. Wodehouse's character Jeeves might disagree vehemently since both the whales and prawns are, without doubt, in the same boat with Bingo Little's horseshoe necktie. It is worth noting, however, that I would not wear either tie to a formal meeting or event!
Last of all, the two Phi Kappa Phi neckties bookend everything else nicely. I'm an active member and serve on my university chapter's governing board as well as a second committee at the national level. Typically, I wear these two ties with suits as well as navy blazer-odd pants combos. Look closely, however, and you'll notice that no Roadrunner tie is apparent. Mercifully.
I do not regard 90 ties as excessive (well perhaps just a little!)as I once owned over 60 and used to enjoy the wearing of a tie immensely. I have been one for the latest style of politicians in particular, who think that a suit without a tie is somehow cool.
Nowadays, having reached the age of 70 and no longer working in the City of London (UK) but doing a few days from home, the need for a tie has fallen and I have passed a good few onto my two sons and a number to charity (thrift) shops. I have retained about 20 and if required, still have a few that should I be called upon to a business meeting would cut it. My ties of choice are now mainly a brighter stripe, summer colours etc. and whilst I do not run to Critter ties, I like small floral designs.
It shows that I have reached a relaxed state but can still look smart!