Girls Can’t Resist This Kiss Me Neck Tie!

Glow in the Dark Tie Advertisement. Girls can't resist this 'Kiss Me' neck Tie as it glows in the dark.
Glow in the Dark Neck Tie Advertisement from 1944

Office Wear to Get You Fired

The concept of clothing that lights up is not unique to this product or time period.  With the current proliferation of cheap LED lighting, fiber optics and other technologies, the demand for clothing to be seen in the dark has exploded. Glow parties, designed to be held under ultraviolet lights to maximize glow are marketed to consumers.

Artists’ fascination with combining wearables and technology is old. It can be seen throughout history in the form of wearable art. Every well-dressed man knows that hand painted neckties have a long history and continue to be demanded today. Nanotechnology fashion promises to open new art opportunities in the future.

However, this ad from 1944 offers a product that was in bad taste even back then and which is certain to get you fired in 2020. From a typographic perspective it is a nightmare . The odd scattering of the letters pictured in the ad, combined with a sickly glow, could give you a headache but can probably be read. The ad promises the tie to be, “high class, distinctive,” and distinct it certainly is. The add indicates that the tie’s, “color combination is specially created and so original that you can actually wear it tastefully with any suit.” But since picture with the ad is a black and white illustration, the aesthetics of the tie’s colors and the accuracy of the claim can’t be determined. But, the simple visual aesthetics of the necktie are not the main source of its lack of good taste.

Illustration from the Glow in the Tie Necktie Ad. Women showing delight at seeing the tie. No, the true offensiveness of the ad lies in its portrayal of women and their reaction to this cravat. The illustration shows the reaction of three possible friends or colleagues.

Detail from illustration of women from necktie ad. The delight they show in detail can be seen as questionable.The intent of the illustration is clearly to show their delight, as is expressed by the woman on the left. But a more accurate and likely reaction of horror and revulsion can be seen in the woman on the right, leaving you to wonder.

The headline promises that “Girls Can’t Resists” the stunning offer to grope in the dark, and assures that you will hear women’s audible expressions of wonder as the tie, “emerges gradually to life touched by a wand of darkness.” In 2020, I’m not sure creepier copy could be written.

All this could have been yours for only $1.49, about $25.00 in 2020 dollars. In 1944, women in the workplace were a rarity and they worked with tremendous disadvantages. When allowed in the workforce, they were relegated to lesser jobs and fewer opportunities. Items like these were as much attempts to keep them in that place as they were jokes or amorous invitations. In 2020’s environment this item would and should be cause for termination if worn in many workplaces.

Outside the workplace, the message from 1944 is no better. The idea that secret invitations to kiss in the dark would “surprise and thrill every girl you meet,” conjures up images of young naive creatures unable to control themselves.

Yet, someone thought this product was a money-maker and these ties would be in high demand, and they may have been right. If, as the ad says, this tie can make “your girl … gasp with wonder as it takes form so amazingly,” how could male readers in 1944 not want the tie? What male could resist risking the purchase, given the money back guarantee! What were they really risking in that time and place? This tie was certainly a product of it’s time and the relationship between men and women that existed then.

Unfortunately, the Glow in the Dark Necktie Company, the real name of the company behind this ad, seems to have vanished into history. What would this company be selling today? One can only imagine. Certainly, bad taste and boorish behavior have not vanished, but the consequences for them have increased.

The Details

Published in Detective Tales
October
1944
“… a thing of loveliness as the question emerges gradually to life, touched by the wand of darkness…”
The ad’s promise to, “surprise and thrill every girl you meet,” was bound to draw attention. but it’s hard to image the young lad who might be tempted to try this 1940’s symbol of bad taste.
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