Reed Chervin likes bow ties. A lot.
The University of Colorado junior owns roughly 40 bow ties. His Google+ profile picture is a shot of him posing with Bill Nye the Science Guy, both in bow ties.
He expresses admiration for Ohio State University president Gordon Gee, possibly the world’s most well-known bow tie aficionado.
And he founded and continues to oversee the Buff Bow-Tie Bunch, a high-fashion student social organization at CU.
Begun last summer, it currently sports around 20 members, a faculty sponsor, and official recognition from the university, recently earning attention as one of “5 CU Clubs you didn’t know existed.”
As Chervin told The CU Independent, the school’s student newspaper, “I think the idea is just to have a elevated level of dressing-up on campus. I think a lot of members in the club get sick of seeing sweatpants at classes. It’s just to formalize campus a little bit, and bow ties are a unique way to do that.”
In the Q&A below, Chervin talks more about his unique organization, lays out his fashion philosophy, and dispenses fashion advice to his fellow students.
Q: OK, to start, quite simply, why bow ties?
A: Standing out is just a big thing. One thing I’ve noticed is that people wear long ties on campus pretty frequently because they’re in frats and things like that. But bow ties, you get stopped, and it sort of becomes a conversation-starter.
People just know there’s some sort of unique individual wearing it. I think that’s sort of the main thing behind it. . . . Also, we had a president of the University of Colorado [from 1985 to 1990] named Elwood Gordon Gee. He’s president now of Ohio State University. He was an inspiration for me personally in terms of wearing something unique. We actually just made him our first honorary esteemed member.
We have sort of a dual purpose of the club. On the one hand, it’s dressing up and being formal. On the other hand, it’s a social club.
Its supposed to stimulate informal conversations. Most of our events are group dinners and going to other campus organizations and socializing with them.
Q: What do you notice about current college students’ day-to-day clothing choices?
A: It’s funny, I remember my freshman year of college, I was walking around campus with a tie and a collared shirt on. People looked at me as if I was part of a frat or getting married or something. It was crazy.
In most classes, you see at least half the people wearing some type of sweatpants. I just think it’s inappropriate for an academic institution.
I was talking to my dad about this. When he was in college, sort of the normal look was collared shirts and chinos, and even that was sort of casual. We really have just seen a trend toward less and less formal wear. It’s gotten ridiculous…
One thing I’ve noticed just in terms of University of Colorado dynamics specifically is we have what they call residential academic programs.
Basically it’s where you’ll have classes directly in your dorm. Mostly it’s for freshmen.
But what you’ll see is that literally people will just roll out of bed and come to class with pajamas on. It almost distracts from the learning environment, I’d say.
On the one hand, I’m tempted to say it’s sort of a reaction against maybe parents insisting they dress up when they’re younger. So when they’re in college they have a lot more independence, so they say, ‘I can just do whatever the hell I want.’
Maybe it’s also seen as just old school to dress up.
Q: What is your fashion advice for students?
A: First and foremost, dont be afraid to stand out. Whether it’s a bow tie or lapel pins, whatever it is, give it a shot. There’s no reward without a little risk. But be professional about it.
Q: Why is it a positive thing to stand out, in respect to your clothing and accessories?
A: I can just say personally that I’ve gone on lots of interviews where I’ve worn a bow tie. Some people say it’s a little daring because you dont know what people’s prejudices are or how they might view you.
But [me in a bow tie] is sort of a lasting image in people’s minds. Especially in the professional world, I think you need any sort of advantage you can get. For me, they’ll say, you know, ‘This guy has something unique about him.’
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