It’s easy to forget that many elements of fashion were created with an occupational function in mind. Take tie bars, which were originally made to keep your tie from straying into the drink you just mixed (if you were a bartender), a patient’s mouth (if you were a dentist), or a supine body (if you were a forensic pathologist). These days they continue to affix our neckwear to our shirt plackets, but function isn’t necessarily why the tie bar has made a comeback. As GQ Style Guy Glenn O’Brien puts it, “Men want to wear jewelry, and they don’t have a lot of options, unless they’re pierced-type guys.”
Maybe that’s why guys in New York seem to be taking things to the next level. Tie jewelry? Tie bling? Whatever you call it, distinctive tie pins, clips, and tacks are a thing—and there’s a history behind ’em. As Robert Bryan told us, “The 1930s favorite, a longer, looped style, was worn by snappy dressers like Fred Astaire and Cary Grant at a rakish angle. The simpler, shorter tie bar, popular in the days of Mad Men, was made to be worn straight, like the men they adorned.”
Here, a few examples of that askew breed of tie jewelry we’ve spotted the city’s more adventurous fellows reviving on their jaunts about town.