I don't get around to what I want to do, 'til I do.
She was one of those friends that I'd talk to daily, in a time when I think everyone was just figuring out relationships in a new way. Internet created a whole new world of culture and emotions and politics and she and I would talk about it all. But there was a grand difference between what a lot of other people I'd discuss life with saw and did and what she saw and did. We'd go toe to to with ideas about life and people. She'd go deep into the weeds when it came to all subjects, but she had that field around her that defused and incopasicated the drama. It came from just being there and loving and wanting to know people for who they really were. An absolute lack of malice with a strong curiosity.
She and I were close, and we'd talk daily. I'd love hearing that ping in the morning so I could see what was going on with her mother or the new guy she'd met, or some debate over adding an item to the line for Osh-Kosh. I'd tell her how I could go out and spend the night dancing, but then I'd just go out and kinda hide in the shadows fearing in a way that I'd have to talk to someone when I knew I went out to engage and see people.
Introvert extrovert is tossed out a lot these days, but she got me when it came to how I didn't like to be swallowed by the world I was in, but wanted to give it all I saw. Odd to think about, and odd to execute.
We'd go on and on typing and calling over the phone and at sometimes skyping about what and why she was working on for Osh-Kosh, and she made me feel like the only person she knew on the west coast. Like I was an essential person to her life that saw things in a lot of ways how she saw things, and knowing how special she was to the world, and knowing that what she did was magical to my eyes, I couldn't wait to hear that ping at times that would tell me that someone I could share all with was messaging me to share her day, insights, her thoughts. She'd tell me how I could break people down so easily, and want to listen to everything. Even when I didn't engage with them, she instigated me to get out of the shadows more and get back to just dancing and just ask for dances and I'd often ignore. She knew when I dance I make new friend with every song, not just have a dance. We'd roam around shops and I'd trail behind her at the vintage fashion expos as we'd gab about who and why and what would work in her next line. It wasn't about having an eye, it was about knowing all the pieces of the pie of humanity and who, where (where the person lived) someone would just see what was being made, and knowing that it would grab the eye because -- if she were that person, in that life, she'd buy that. And she inspired me and helped me feel that that gift of just reading a culture, I had it too. She'd listen to all my mistakes and I to hers and it was all okay because people learn.
When she decided to start a new publication, I believed and trusted she'd make it happen. She was a true leader and she could do it. And she asked me for an article and to help bring in some ads to support the first issues. She did it. She saw the idea, laid it out and all the way made me feel as though I was giving her as much energy to not fail as she gave me to just put myself out there. She never got to see me accomplish some of the feats I feel she told me I could.
She found a man out there in New York that she loved dearly, and what I loved hearing was that he got her too. She surprised herself and we'd talk back and forth about being accepted loving a man when she'd dated so many women before, but this one made her feel and know he was right for her. When she messaged me telling me her cancer had returned I sunk. I was reading through those old messages on those mornings again that prompted this. She had a double mastectomy and chemo was destroying her, but she was worried about something she felt so my mind was all on "get yourself to the doctor" and her mind was very much on wanting her guy to not worry about her.
The point is, I'm an oddball in a lot of ways. But when I find someone that gets me, I'm overjoyed. She was one that got everyone but didn't hide it, she helped me glow. Cancer took her. I told her in person once how much she made me feel as though I was accepted. She left a mark on my soul, and left a magazine for what she loved as a legacy.
This is the last Article Diane Naegel and I spoke about. She read it once and I think edited it a bit. It's in an out of print Zelda so I figure it's time to put it out there.
Under Your Collar and Over Your Buttons
Yesterday’s Version of Today’s Necktie
Because you need to protect yourself from the elements, and men are always working on newer and better outfits for warfare, menswear form usually really does follow function. Suits tend to walk in the footsteps of field uniforms made for combat the idea is easy wear and care. This goes for men’s hats and shoes as well, for example, the holes in your perforated wingtips were originally a functional design made to let out water when walking through bogs. However, unlike the other pieces of clothing men wear, the necktie has no other purpose other than to ad color. No it’s not to keep your neck warm like a scarf, it doesn’t hold the collar closed unless you have lost a button, and it isn’t for wiping up your dripped ketchup like your handkerchief. The necktie is unlike any of those things. It’s not like the cufflink that holds your shirt closed at the wrist. The tie is decoration and decoration alone.
Since this is Zelda, I’ll stick to those ties that were around before that second war to end all wars. The ties that were there after the great “you can wear anything as a tie” period and before the long, thick and gaudy “this is a tie” period took hold.
In the 1910s and 20s, the necktie came into its own and changed from being a thin ribbon or a big flouncy draping piece of silk. The cut and drape of the ties became standardized following in the footsteps of the sack suit that had arrived a few decades earlier. It was the cut for an industrial era that came with it the demands of an industrial etiquette. Wrapped around the neck, tied into a knot in front of the collar and the tip falling downward ending in a diamond shaped point that stopped a couple inches above the belly.
They may sound boring or staid with their new cookie cutter shape and length, but the purpose of the tie still remained. It was that peacock flare that a man used to show his spirit. Even though there were now rules involved, the tie had to shine past those rules. In an era of jazz and gangsters and prohibition and a boring industrial origin, it turned into the palette for display of affiliation wealth and attitude that nothing else in a man’s wardrobe could rival.
The ties from the 1910s and before WWII were very specific in their design and construction, and even though you can still buy representations of these ties from a myriad of shops that pride themselves on how stodgy they are and how little they have changed there wears since their beginnings, the ties these shops sell today are truly only representations of something that was once great. Representations with all the life and beauty and elegance and simplicity sucked out of them. So please don’t wear them, and here is why.
#1 Length: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously long.
Being an item that was meant to dress up the neck and disappear into the closure of the jacket, they don’t. They peek out from below your jacket and hang over the waistband of your trousers. You’ll often end up checking to see if you peed on the tip when leaving the restroom. And tucking it in your pants isn’t an option since that just looks weird and will bulge your jacket upward when you sit down.
#2 Weight: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously heavy and thick.
It’s a pendulum rather than a display of silk, a pendulum that swings back and forth paying n attention to that breeze of wind that would ad romance to the tie if it had any. With this outrageous weight and bulk, you can’t tie knots that jut away from your collar, you can’t ad pins or collar bars because the knots turn out way too big. In fact with the modern tie and it’s bulk the tie ends up being all about the knot.
# 3 Shape: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously straight and BORING.
It wasn’t meant to be a stripe from your collar to below your waistband with a sole purpose being covering your buttons. The tie would start at your neck as a tight knot and the sides would become further and further apart as the silk descended, and at the widest point, a point that was usually an inch or 2 away from the waistband of your trousers, the sides would stop their spread and jut back toward a centerline, ultimately giving the tie a diamond shape. The bottom end of the tie was glorious arrow, which dictated that below that waistline was the wearer’s manhood. With the modern silk bar they make today, you just have something that hangs from your collar with a tip that runs past your waistline… just a button cover that is roped around yourneck.
Now where can you find a tie today that isn’t a long gaudy silk rope?
Well you can hunt vintage shops and hope I haven’t already been there, but there are a couple other options.
The closest in make and design on the market today are those ties made for the Rugby line of Ralph Lauren. They are simply the silk twill with a light weight interlining, no loop in the back to pass the shorter end through and an unlined tip… this is important because you may want to gently iron that tie tip out into more of a diamond shape to capture that gentle spread ties used to make. Just chop off about 4 from the narrower end and tie the tie so it hangs a few inches above your waistline and you are good to go.
You could also go to Brooks Brothers and head straight for the boys department. In there you will find ties that are made to meet the needs of a man of normal stature. Why they put them there, I don’t know… but in a pinch when you are in pants that actually sit at your waist, they fit the bill.