I would follow him as he made his way from the bathroom to his closet each morning. He'd stand and pause. Already in his briefs, he would push the hangers along the metal rod to choose just the right suit for the day. I could almost taste the sound of the metal on metal as I sat on the reclining chair in my parents' bedroom. My pajama bottoms still a bit twisted at the waist from rolling around all night. My socks flopping off my feet at the toes. I knew it was time for the show. To me, his suits were all some version of the same thing, but I knew that to him, to a man, this was a decision to be made. I watched and studied his every nuance about how he'd zip the pants enough to keep them from falling back to his ankles, but open enough to allow him to do the tucking in of his shirt that he did so methodically. Front right side. Left front. Back, back, back. Button. Zip. All tucked neatly in the trousers. Arms up. Arms down. To create a bit of slack so that he could move freely.
I was fascinated by each step of his morning rituals. They were all so seemingly important. He not only had to choose a suit and a shirt and a tie (that would all somehow coordinate), but he got to drive over a bridge to open his clothing stores. That, too, was quite a task only a grownup could get to enjoy. Moreover, once at his store, he and all of his strength had to lift the metal gates. He even had to enter a code on a key pad-- how Maxwell Smart of him!
Yet, the sole, daily task which intrigued me most was how my father would tie his tie. How on earth did he know how to flip that silk strip of cloth around his neck to create a perfectly situated knot between his collar points. He tied his necktie so quickly that I never actually saw the step by step details. One fell swoop. That's how it was done. Around. Flip. Flip. Tuck. Shimmy. Pull. Done. Make that: aroundflipfliptuckshimmypulldone. Just like that. One motion.
As I became a little older, I had the privilege of accompanying him to work. I wore my own version of the businessman's garb-- my pushing the envelope of too short corduroy pants, a pullover sweater and a button down shirt underneath to minimize the itching of the sweater's wool against my prepubescent skin. I would spend entire days observing, pretending to take inventory of merchandise, dusting, sweeping and drinking one too many bottles of chocolate milk from the luncheonette next door.
Man after man after man-- each customer would plant himself in front of the full-length mirror, which was suspended by a brass frame, and carefully, slowly, and systematically work the ties into knots. Some clients changed into a fresh tie because their morning's selection had been stained by lunch's soup, while others with spread open shirt collars were on the way to the theater and needed to finish off the look with the perfect tie. Even the window trimmer would spend hours of the day creating knots on the mannequins' ties.
Colorful ties abound, and I had tie envy. As I arranged and rearranged the ties over and over, I would choose one to tie on myself. I, too, stood in front of the mirror and, admittedly, did a job much like a child would wrap ribbon around a birthday gift. Though just short of tripping on it, wearing a necktie gave me newfound confidence with which to march around the store. Just a kid in a men's shop, but I got pretty darn good at tying a tie on itself in order to show a client how a necktie would look with his new suit and possibly a new shirt. It not only became my favorite thing to do in my father's store, but I began to understand what went best with what and stylize combinations for many of the business people who shopped on Madison Avenue. I'd insinuate myself into the salespeople's interactions with the customers. The clients liked my taste and would say, "I'll take the one the kid picked out."
As I began working full-time and running the family business, my goal for tying a necktie was to be able to do it quickly, cleanly and without the need for a mirror. I created the "Inverted Knot." I use it myself everyday, and used it in the window displays of my Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue stores for decades. People would stop in all day long to ask about the tie knots in the windows. They'd want instructions, a personal how-to, on how it's done.
Here is a video http://goo.gl/D3x0ZE just for you featuring the basics of my "Inverted Knot." It is the best, easiest and fastest knot to tie without aid of a mirror. Even a young boy can learn and master how to tie this knot. Send me a note after you've tried it. Did you get some compliments on it? Do you have a favorite knot you like to use? I'd love to hear about it. Connect with me here on my site SuitCafe.com or on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/atailorschalk. View and subscribe to my YouTube channel here: http://goo.gl/lgoAZ8