G. Bruce Boyer walked into the room and my head snapped back in surprise, a slight intake a breath passing my lips. It was not the entrance of Mr. Boyer into the room that had engendered this reaction per se. Nor was it anything he said or did in the moment. It was, instead, his neck. Or, more precisely, the thing around his neck. Or, more precisely still, how said thing was tied around his neck. How could it convey such rakishness? I thought. Such nonchalance? My brain could not comprehend the message my eyes were sending. Was it a scarf? Was it a tie? Was it some combination of the two, a new species as yet undiscovered by menswear obsessives the world over?
This scene played out last fall when I was in New York with Bruce shooting for his MAROL Capsule Collection. Bruce has collaborated with the Bologna shirt maker to create six shirts that combine his detailed knowledge and refined taste with MAROL’s obsessive craftsmanship and Northern-Italian aesthetic. The collaboration has resulted in a superior capsule wardrobe and I should know: not only do I work with the company, I bought one of the shirts.
Yet in that moment, what absorbed me completely was Bruce’s scarf. Before I explain what black magic was at play, some nomenclature. In the past I’ve written about such neckwear and called it an “ascot.” Which is, of course, only a specific type of neck accessory (one that is wider at both ends). Because of the unfortunate fashion associations with the ascot, and because he uses large squares of silk instead of true ascots, Bruce prefers the term “scarf.” (Personally, I find the remaining term, “neckerchief,” a bit too much of a mouthful.) Bruce distances his scarf even further from the Thurston Howell III’s of the world, as I wrote in my previous article, by tying his scarves in a very understated way. Just two knots and that’s it. A bit of colour at the neck without a big pouf. However, there was more going on on this day and I had to find out what it was all about.
Bruce explained that the problem with his method of tying is that the two dangling ends of the scarf have a tendency to rise up out of the shirt, leaving you looking like a 1940s sailor on shore leave. So Bruce has devised this clever system (what I suppose in today’s parlance would be referred to as a “hack”). As you can see in the photo above, Bruce leaves the second button on his shirt done up. One end of the scarf comes out over top, the other in behind. Then, he ties the two scarf ends together creating a loop. He then undoes the third button on his shirt, places the tied end of the scarf inside and does up the third button through the loop. This secures the scarf doubly: once at the second button, once at the third. That way, the scarf cannot ride up or come loose.