Tie One On

Nance Donnelly is your best friend’s mom from high school: pretty, smart, put-together. She’s the type who would never embarrass you in front of friends, but knows just enough to embarrass you in front of your homecoming date. She’s also the impromptu fashion critic behind the Brian Williams Tie Report Archives, an online review of the neckwear worn by NBC’s Nightly News anchor.

A high school English teacher in Lorain County, Donnelly combines her love of language and men’s fashion in her 2-year-old blog, using phrases such as “warm claret intarsia sparsely sprinkled with heathery grey dots rimmed in black” to describe something most guys think about only slightly more than their choice of underwear. We checked in with Donnelly to find out what advice she has for the collared men of the world
Why Brian Williams?
Probably because I’m too lazy to change the channel — we watch the Channel 3 local news. After that, immediately, comes the national news.

You had a phrase recently when he had a very deep dimple in his tie ...

The “bifurcated highway to fashion Armageddon.” Oh, honey.
I can’t get that tie out of my mind. It haunted me for the rest of the day.

Are his ties better or worse than other anchors’?
His are conservative and usually better than most news anchors’ ties. He’s very classic, very Ivy League. ... [That’s why] I was so jubilant the other night when he wore that broad stripe of lilac blush and black. I was thrilled. That’s the edgiest tie he’s worn that wasn’t egregious in a long time.

What's your advice for men when choosing a tie?

The idea of mixing your tie pattern with a patterned shirt — I think it’s terrible. ... I [also] wish men would stop being afraid of pink. That makes me a little sad. Men should boldly stride into pink territory more often. [Meet the Press moderator] David Gregory wears pink very well. [MSNBC’s] Keith Olbermann wears pink very well.

How do you write so evocatively about something so boring?
I first try to think,What does it remind me of ? Luckily, with something like ties, you’ve got color. You’ve got pattern. You have fabric. The colors can evoke food or things in the landscape. We all have huge data banks of memories. I try to access those.

Does your husband wear ties a lot?
My husband has three ties. I hate all of them. He will wear a tie under duress, but my husband is a carpenter by trade. He thinks ties are the dumbest things in the world. And quite frankly, as a fashion, so do I. I don’t even know how ties came to be and why they are. ... They’re really kind of ridiculous: Let’s put on a shirt and a pair of pants, and now, just for a flash of color, let’s knot up a little rag right here at your neck. What is that even about?

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