How many fathers have given Academy Award-worthy performances saying “thank you” after being given a tie for Fathers’ Day? Probably millions. Ties usually are the least original and most boring gift on the planet. See the display below, which we saw in a South Carolina clothing store. They were shirt-plus-tie combos for children, a visual illustration of why many boys start hating ties early.
But, believe it or not, ties can be cool Fathers’ Day gifts, thanks to thrift stores. We’re talking about vintage ties, and thrift stores are rich repositories of examples from bygone decades. They are rarely priced at more than $4, and often are in the 50-cent to $2 range.
The easiest way to find a vintage tie is to look at the label. You might find a long-ago brand name, like this Towncraft tie from J.C. Penney. (It helpfully has a “Rayon” tag as well.)
Botany was a well-known 50s and 60s brand (and lives on today in Botany 500 suits), and this wool model still looks good after half a century.
Sometimes, vintage labels are worth a laugh. This 1960s mod tie, below left, has the original price as part of the label. (We got it for $1.) The label at right instructs a clueless man what color suit to wear with it.
We have found barely-worn, Italian silk ties from the 1970s and 80s in profusion at thrift stores. The gray one below that Blake is wearing was $2 at a Hospice Resale Boutique in Arlington, VA, paired with a Calvin Klein shirt and Prada slacks, snagged for $3 each on an “all clothing $3 weekend) at a Santa Monica, CA, Goodwill.
If you don’t want to sort through dozens of ties to find a vintage example, there are online retailers who have done the culling for you. A favorite of ours is http://www.rustyzipper.com, the web’s first vintage clothing store. Based in Oregon, Rusty Zipper has a boatload of vintage ties from the 1940s through the 1990s. They are displayed by era, and by type, such as abstract, diagonal, flat bottom, hand painted, knit, rockabilly and ties with initials. There are also vintage bow ties.
Ties can be a powerful reminder of dads, both living and no longer with us. My dad was partial to knit Rooster brand ties, which were popular in the 1950s and 60s. After he died in 1980, I saved several of his ties and later gave them to the grandsons he never got to meet. And I kept a few, and was happy to use one again in our book. Below, Alan knocks off a runway look wearing one of my dad’s vintage Rooster ties with a Thomas Dean shirt ($3) and Crossroads sweater ($6.99) and no-label vest ($3.99), all from Goodwill. (His Cole Haan sandals were $14.99 from Angel View Resale Store and his Lucky Brand jeans were $6.99 from Goodwill.)
So, don’t dismiss ties for Fathers’ Day. Surprise dad with one that’s special.