In case you hadn’t noticed, I like ties.
While I was on my tie binge during Worldcon, I had several men (including Jim Fiscus–love ya, Jim) ask me the same question: I’ve been trying to escape wearing ties all my life, so why are you willingly wearing one?
Because I like ties.
I guess you could see some of the lure of the forbidden in there. There are some fairly masculine cuts for women’s clothing these days, but you generally still don’t see women in ties unless they’re upscale waitstaff. And men, on the other hand, are required to wear ties at certain times… which if you don’t like them or don’t like the level of formality that denotes, makes them a miserable experience.
I don’t know why I like ties. I don’t think it’s just a desire to thumb my nose at gender expectations, but I can’t really sit down and write you a list of reasons why I like them. But why does anyone like the clothes they enjoy wearing? It’s all in the murky depths of our psyches, preferences and aesthetics we’ve formed that I think aren’t entirely conscious.
Why does anyone like wearing what they do? Because they like how it looks on them. I’ve been told time and again that a dress or a skirt or a blouse looks good on me, but when I look in the mirror I just feel awkward. I feel silly, like I don’t look like myself. I look like someone else’s idea of what Rachael Acks is supposed to look like, because hey that’s what girls wear, amiright?
I know it always sounds kind of funny when I talk about Project Runway, because let’s be serious. Fashion and I have never been friends. And the fashion on PR? Very not my kind of fashion, since it’s all skirts and purses and heels and the few times they attempt mens fashion it’s always a hilarious disaster.
But the one thing that show has done for me, season after season, is send the message that clothing isn’t supposed to be a punishment. Clothing is supposed to be something that makes you happy. Clothing should allow you to express yourself. Ideally, clothing should make you more you or more who you want to be.
So I guess the thing with the ties is that I’ve finally figured out how I want to express myself and who I want to be. For the first time in my life, clothing makes me feel good. For the first time in my life, I care about styling and colors and actually playing with my clothes, coming up with combinations and outfits. They make me feel bigger than myself (but in a good, standing tall way) and not like I want to shrink away and not be noticed. I actually want to be noticed now, because I feel damn good, I feel happy, and I want to share it.
I put on a button shirt and a tie, and I feel powerful. I feel like me.