C. Geer, via e-mail, asks, 'Whatever happened to ...?' Tie tacks

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Ten years ago, everyone started ripping off their ties," says Spencer, a longtime jewelry designer in Boston. That was bad news for tie tacks.

But even before then, in the early 1970s, tie tacks (in which a pin is pushed through the tie) and tie clips had experienced a steep drop in popularity, he adds.

Changing styles and an increasing acceptance of casual attire in the workplace (note the ultrarelaxed dress code at trend-setting companies like Microsoft) also help explain why so few tie tacks are evident now. Stores that sold five tie tacks a week 20 years ago can't sell five a year today.

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Men who still fasten their ties are hard to categorize. Spencer says they are people "with their own sense of style." He still makes several tie tacks a year for customers. One design had a two-carat ruby and cost $30,000.

In the main, despite the persistence of water-filled sinks and wind (anathema to ties), tie-fastening devices are in decline. Cuff links, however, endure.

If you wonder 'Whatever happened to...' write us at: One Norway Street,

Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail: whatever@csmonitor.com

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