Monday, March 30, 2009

Fashion File: A Guide To The Semiotics of Power Ties

Growing up in the 1980's, watching Alex Keaton bring a briefcase to work on television, and Bud Fox learn to play squash on the fly, a young man grew to aspire to wearing a "power tie". Perhaps he would wear it to a "power breakfast", he might think to himself. What goes into such a meal, he had no idea, but certainly even this 10 year old knew that a power tie meant a bold coloured, solid or print tie; a tie that made sure everyone in the room knew he meant business.

According to a one of the surprisingly many fashion sites devoted to men's apparel, "In the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan was known for his red power tie, as much a virility symbol in American corporate culture as a red convertible has been in the culture at large."

If you dig a little deeper, you'll find that though opinions vary about which ties contain the most power, there is very little disagreement that people will do as you say if you wear one.

So with that, it seems important that we clear up just which power the various styles convey.

1. Red, solid: I'm the president, or I've met him. I just finished breakfast with some powerful people. I am just stopping in here to let you all know that I have somewhere very important to be, but have taken a few minutes to speak with you so you'd better listen and listen good.

2. Yellow, solid: I'm incredibly important, but not the kind of jerk who would wear a bright red tie to meet with you. You should trust me. I'm a powerful man who is hungry for a power meal of some kind but I like you enough to stop in here and have a quick word. I don't eat spaghetti because stains show really easily on my tie.

3. Azure blue, with navy flecks: I'm incredibly powerful but speak softly. Listen closely so you can hear all the details because I certainly don't have time to repeat myself. I lost my drivers licence some time ago, but it's ok because I have a driver. Also, I like pasta. Some of these flecks are sauce.

4. Lime Green, solid: I got dressed in the dark. But it's because I live on West Coast time and as powerful as I am, I haven't convinced the sun to rise earlier to meet my needs. You should listen to what I say and comply with great speed because God knows when I do finally foreclose on the Sun, those who opposed me will be burned. But for real.

5. Blue and Red, stripes: I am a Republican. I do everything except hunt in this tie. I find it goes great with khakis and a blue blazer. It makes me feel powerful, but less so, say at a convention or something where everyone else is wearing the same tie. That and boarding schools.

6. Lavender, with light thorn pattern: I just a guy who likes spring.

7. Polka Dots of Any Kind: I am powerful but insouciant. I collect art but would rather not speak of it as it's a personal passion. I can tell a good joke but damnit you had better laugh like you mean it or there is going to be real trouble. I'm approachable, but please be sure to offer to pay for drinks before I tell you that I would never permit such a thing.

8. Bright Orange: I had better be the leader of the Ukraine or coach of the Dutch national soccer team. Possible I'm just a heavy hitter shopping for helicopters in the Caymans. I wear shaded glasses even indoors.

9. Salmon pink, Solid: I am Donald Trump.

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