Peter-Blair Men’s Neckwear: Classic, Comfortable, Elegant & Fun
Is it possible today’s workforce has taken the concept of “Casual Friday” a tad too far? Dick Fowlkes, founder and co-owner of Virginia-based fine menswear brand Peter-Blair, Inc., thinks so. Fowlkes, who has been heralded in the local Richmond press for his potent combination of exquisite sartorial taste and Southern charm, recently took time out from his busy schedule to talk with Epic Mens about men’s fashion, and he didn’t pull any punches lamenting the fact that neckties (once considered mandatory) are now dangerously close to being labeled obsolete. His advice to twenty-somethings and millennials trying to compete in a tough workplace is simple and straight-forward. Schlepping to work in the same old jeans and T-shirt every day will get you only so far. If you really want to make a lasting impression, invest a little time and effort spiffing up your appearance. Put on a smart business tie - or better yet, a snazzy bow tie. Sound like a good idea? Take a look at one of Epic Mens’ best sellers (below) – the Peter-Blair Blue Dragonfly 100% Silk Bow Tie. Still not convinced? Then, read on, and you will be.
According to Fowlkes, the history of men’s neckwear can be traced back hundreds of years to Croatia where men wore kerchiefs as a guard against the grime of outdoor life. Later, the handy garments evolved into more elegant men’s fashion accessories worn by the French and English before eventually being adopted as regimental insignia in England, India, Africa and other locations around the world. Then, as now, Fowlkes asserts wearing a tie was a sign of dignity and respect. But if you’re still not convinced it’s worth the trouble, consider Fowlkes’ argument that “A great tie can make [even] an unattractive man handsome!” He is absolutely certain the right tie can boost your confidence and earn you a slew of admirers. In fact, he’s told many customers “if you don’t get a bunch of compliments on this tie, bring it back.” Not surprisingly, no one ever has. A consummate salesman who lives and breathes men’s fashion, Fowlkes has been outfitting men in a manner that exudes impeccable taste for more than two decades. Some call the Peter-Blair men’s clothing style “preppy,” but Fowlkes prefers “conservative with a twist.” Regardless of the label you choose, Peter-Blair fine menswear and fashion accessories convey a comfortable, easygoing impression of what Fowlkes refers to as “classic dependability” that’ll never be out of vogue.
Selling (or more aptly put - making people feel good) is second nature to Fowlkes. In a Richmond Times-Dispatch interview, Fowlkes recalls hawking roasted chestnuts as a boy from a small stand in front of his house, saying “If it wasn’t nailed down, I’d sell it. It’s in my blood.” By his early twenties, his sights had turned to men’s fashion and a career that led him to where he is today. In 1993, Fowlkes converted a defunct bricks-and-mortar bookstore in historic Richmond into a retail menswear destination shopping site, and Peter-Blair, Inc. (named after two of Fowlkes’ godchildren) was born. Nine years later, Fowlkes teamed up again, this time with his sister Kate Ackerly. Together, they launched a second venture, Peter-Blair Accessories, a line of men’s fine neckwear and accessories, including pocket squares, cummerbund sets, and ties of all kinds. Today, Epic Mens is proud to be able to showcase Peter-Blair men’s fashion accessories. Just visit www.epicmens.com for a closer look at a wide array of Peter-Blair woven ties, Peter-Blair silk ties, Peter-Blair extra-long ties, Peter-Blair bow ties, and Peter-Blair pocket squares.
We think you’ll be amazed at the extent and variety of available colors and prints – all elegant, fun, and great conversation starters. Fowlkes is quick to credit his sister Kate as the artist behind the designs, which feature a multitude of themes such as geometrics, animals, sports, hobbies and travel. However, Fowlkes who is an accomplished painter himself, is intimately involved in the color selections. As a youngster, Fowlkes recalls his art teacher telling him “he didn’t have an artistic bone in [his] body,” but that didn’t dissuade him from loving art in “every way, shape, and form.” As a colorist, Fowlkes seems oblivious to the fact that there are only seven colors in a rainbow. A quick glance at the Epic Mens’ collection of Peter-Blair ties and bow ties reveals a wide-ranging selection of 100% imported-silk ties in almost every conceivable hue. Handmade and quality crafted in the USA, Peter-Blair ties, bow ties and pocket squares are literally a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors, including arresting shades of teal, sky blue, violet, peach, gold and chartreuse. Fowlkes’ personal favorite is coral, a color that’s become a motif in his paintings, as well as in his menswear fashion designs. He is also a fan of new and surprising color pairings or combinations, for example, coral and aqua or purple and green. His advice when choosing a tie is to begin by looking for the finest weave of color in the garments you’re attempting to match. “It could be a fine line of light blue in a suit or a hairline of pink in a dress shirt,” he says. “Try to match a tie to the bit of color you are trying to pull out…make the tie the most important accessory and make [it] speak to the viewer.”
If you can pull this off (and we’re sure you can), no one will ever accuse you of being a shrinking daisy again. In fact, all eyes will be on you and your totally put-together, singular look. And if you’re feeling really courageous, don a Peter-Blair necktie or bow tie featuring one of the brand’s signature play-on-words designs. How long do you think it’ll take your friends and colleagues to equate the tiny pictures of “chicks” and “magnets” aligned in neat rows on your tie with your reputation as a lady killer? Or how do you think they’d respond to rows and rows of miniature aluminum screws and upside down horseshoes? Let’s just say that if you step out in a Peter-Blair tie or Peter-Blair bow tie, you definitely won’t go unnoticed.
Today, Fowlkes is the proud owner of close to 40 ties, 15 of which he wears regularly – five days a week. His all-time favorite tie was a gift from his aunt, a Robert Talbott Cotton Madras Tie from the Carmel Valley store. His aunt had great taste, and that tie hung in his closet for many years until it was absolutely threadbare. Listening to Fowlkes reminisce, it’s easy to see how tradition has influenced and become a key part of the Peter-Blair fine quality menswear image. Like so many of you, Fowlkes was first taught to tie a tie by his father, back in the day when “polished shoes and a neatly tied necktie” were necessities. And the lesson is a rite of passage he would like to see continued. When asked for any parting words of wisdom, Fowlkes (ever the fashion expert and taskmaster) quipped “If you come to interview with me or want to sell me something, you better have a tie on!”