News and Tribune


April 12, 2013

STAWAR: The tie that defines


Like most men of my generation, I grew up watching bow-tie wearers on television, such as Gary Moore, Groucho Marx, Barney Fife and Bud Collier, not to mention Boo-Boo Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss and of course Mickey Mouse. More recently, Waylon Smithers from “The Simpsons” and the 11th Dr. Who have encouraged the wearing of the bow. From the comics, Dagwood Bumstead and Jimmy Olsen stand out as inveterate bow-tie wearers. I, of course, am hoping to get some of that Winston Churchill gravitas, but I am much more likely to channel Peewee Hermann.

Bowties are often associated with specific professionals such as by magicians, doctors, lawyers, professors, high-school principals, English teachers, architects, waiters, politicians and, unfortunately, clowns. Dr. Berman, my heavy-set, cigar-chomping childhood pediatrician always wore a red-and-blue striped one with his white coat. Many pediatricians evidently wear bow ties so infants won’t grab them the way they do a traditional necktie. 

Some commentators believe that bow ties may appeal to some men because they reflect technical skills, since they are so difficult to tie. My father taught me how to tie a traditional necktie. I’m not sure what knot I learned, but I was never very good at it. For that reason, I never untie my ties. I just loosen them, remove them and stick them in a drawer. 

I was intimidated by my new bow tie, even though it is tied much like a common shoelace. You Tube is filled to the gills with videos willing to teach you how to tie a bow tie. After watching several and practicing a few days, I sort of got the knack. 

Diane, my reluctant consultant, is still leery of my proposed fashion initiative. She has established some ground rules for my bow-tie wearing. First of all, she says I can never wear my bow tie in the states of Indiana or Wisconsin, where her family lives. She seems to think that it’s OK for me to wear one when we visit our children and grandchildren, since they already think I’m a crank. I also can wear it in Illinois, where my relatives live, since presumably it doesn’t directly reflect on her.

Apparel adviser Molloy is even less tolerant and suggests getting the right accessories if you insist on wearing a bowtie — “a red nose and a beanie cap with a propeller.”


— Terry L. Stawar, Ed.D., lives in Georgetown and is the CEO of LifeSpring the local community mental health center in Jeffersonville. He can be reached at Checkout his Welcome to Planet-Terry blog and podcast at

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