News & Politics

Is the Fat Tie Back in Fashion?

Washington is not exactly a fashion-forward city, but with the arrival of more high-end stores, that’s beginning to change. Leading the way is an unlikely trendsetter: Bill Clinton.

While stumping in South Carolina for his wife, the former president wore a spread collar and a fashionably fat necktie—a departure from the conservative attire he’s worn his entire political career. 

Suddenly the fat tie knot, known as the Windsor knot, is seen more here. Jonathan Capehart, a fashionable editorial writer at the Washington Post, regularly appears on Hardball With Chris Matthews wearing a cravat and collar treatment of the same style.

Style guru Steven “Cojo” Cojocaru is promoting his new book, Glamour, Interrupted, sporting a flashy purple-and-white polka-dot tie with a big knot. Who would have thought that Clinton and Cojo had anything in common?

The Duke of Windsor, maybe the most influential menswear force in history, is credited with popularizing the fat tie knot in the 1930s. The Windsor knot was named for him, but it was actually an innovation of his grandfather’s, a variation on the common four-in-hand, the tie most men wear today.

During January’s Los Angeles presidential debate, Barack Obama, champion of the slim-cut suit and skinny tie—or no tie—also moved in that direction. Carl Bernstein is already there; he’s often seen wearing fat tie knots again, as are MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and FNC’s Shepard Smith.

If either Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the White House, will the four-in-hand melt away in favor of the Windsor knot—just as John F. Kennedy helped kill off the man’s hat in American fashion?

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