Sartorial Splendor: Wearing a Bow Tie
“The tradition of adorning the neck with a knotted piece of fabric dates back to the 17th century. The Croatian soldiers of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) were one of the first documented peoples to don a necktie, which they used to keep together the collars of their shirts. French soldiers brought the look back home with them after the war, and by the 1700s neckties were widely adopted by the upper classes, marking the time when neckties became a main feature in men’s dress.”
I was in Dallas last week spending time with our Texas team. Bow ties were the last thing on my mind. I had scheduled a meeting for Branden (my business partner) and me and the marketing team of a large company new to Texas. They are exploring new print e-sourcing tools. They are working to provide their print buyers with a way to setup and manage their preferred print suppliers and automate a bidding process for each.
Branden is on our inside sales team. He is totally cool. I picked up Branden for the meeting and did a double take. Around his neck was a bow tie. Not your ordinary James Bond batwing bow tie, or even your Justin Timberlake butterfly bow tie. Branden’s was wearing a very conspicuous metal bow tie. Yes, you read that correctly. His bow tie was silver and made of metal. Had Branden been naked, I wouldn’t have noticed. For the record, he was also wearing, slacks, dress shoes, and nicely pressed shirt. As Branden stepped into my car, and before I could pick up my dropped jaw from the floor mat, Branden boasted, “I’m wearing this to stand out. People will remember me and our meeting by what I’m wearing. Bow ties are a great conversation starter.” He had a big smile on his face. I don’t remember the drive to the meeting.
As we entered the building and made it through security, everyone stopped to stare. And they weren’t staring at yours truly; tall, blonde, and rather striking, if I do say so myself. They were staring at Brandon’s metal bow tie.
Our prospect meeting went swimmingly. As per the plan, the bow tie broke the ice (not literally, although it was fully capable) and our six-person meeting was a success. I don’t think their marketing team will soon forget us. Thank you bow tie.
What is the point of my little article? Let me tie it all together for you:
Be yourself. Be unique. Take a risk or two. Clothing is a good place to start.
Branden is attending a procurement conference in September. He’s going to wear a different unique bow tie each day. Will buyers see his bow tie and approach him to ask about it? Will it be a print procurement conversation starter? Branden is pre-scheduling meetings with buyers at companies that can benefit from our print e-sourcing tool. His invite reads, “I will be the one wearing the bow tie.”
Do you need to visit a haberdashery and stock up on the latest fashionable bow ties? Of course not. If you did, Branden would no longer be one-of-a-kind. But I respectfully suggest that you highlight your own unique personality by doing something outside the box. Perhaps you’ll get someone to smile. What greater reward could there be?
Sarah Scudder is president of Real Sourcing Network (RSN), has won many awards, writes for various publications and is an entrepreneur. Sarah’s desire is to make the world a better place. She is on her way.