A few weeks ago, the dance studio my wife and I go to to take ballroom/latin lessons held a party with the theme of cowboys vs Indians (part of a “this vs that” series of themed parties in which we’re supposed to dress up as one or the other). We did our best to dress up a bit, although I can’t say I approve of “cowboys vs Indians”. You know, history. I wore black jeans, shirt, a leather vest, and the closest I could get to a cowboy hat. All that I was missing, other than cowboy boots that I wouldn’t be caught alive with, was a bolo tie.
And that got me thinking. Bolo tie. Accessory. Apparently invented by silversmith Victor Cedarstaff of Winckenburg, Arizona, in the late 1940s. Hmmm. Why not consider expanding my accessory options?
So I set out to find myself one. I didn’t have much luck. Until, that is, I found Rocky Mountain Western. Although they have some silver concho ties as well as slides with an arrowhead or steer head, the bulk of their inventory consists of a variety a refined settings, stones (cabochons), cords, and tips, all of which can be combined to create a custom tie. They have, of course, ready-made ties, but even these can be customized in a remarkably easy process.
First, I picked out the stone I wanted – hematite. An elegant stone that pairs well with different coloured shirts. Then I chose the setting, a classy filigree my wife thought looked (in a good way) like something Masonic or, better yet, Illuminati. I liked the overall, gently triangular shape and the detail around the edges. Finally, I selected details like the setting colour (silver), cord type (black suedette, which is non-leather), cord length (38”), and tip type (blunt-edge silver). Voila!
A few days later, I received this very lovely box…
…which contained the bolo exactly as I had ordered it.
I love it.
The appeal lies in the fact that it doesn’t feel like a noose as regular neckties do. But more importantly, I’m discovering how the bolo also beautifully fulfills the functions of a good accessory. It’s versatile, without any specific rules on how to wear: the slide can be worn up at the collar or lower down, for example. You can pick slides to suit your particular style; full-on Western if you like, gothabilly, or as part of a contemporary minimalist look. It’s suitable for both casual and formal occasions. You can be as classy or kitschy, humble or bold, as you want. Personally, I have no interest in achieving a Western look. I do like, however, how the bolo adds much-needed flair to my work clothes, which typically consist of simple but nice shirts and pants.
Key to wearing a bolo tie, in terms of pulling an outfit together, is to carefully choose what other accessories to wear. A big ol’ belt buckle, for example, creates two focal points for the eye, which means the style impact of either buckle or bolo is diminished. (So fellahs, decide: do you want people staring at your crotch or your chest? Ha, ha.) Subtle accessories, like rings or bracelets, or accessories that are more like apparel (such as hats) don’t carry the same risk of creating a clash. It’s all a matter of experimentation and personal taste, of course. But really: be careful with the belt buckles.
And Rocky Mountain Western? Highly recommended. Although I didn’t deal with a live human, the website is easy to use, the selection is great, and the end product, delivered on time, is quality.