Life In Our Mountain Town: Truckee men who won’t wear neckties
Recently my husband and I were getting ready to leave town for a few days to attend a wedding. Having spoken with the bride, I’d learned that most of the men coming to the wedding would be wearing jackets and ties, if not suits, and so I relayed this information to my husband.
I would never insist on a certain clothing choice for my husband. That’s not the way our marriage works.
I merely wanted him to think about wearing a tie, and maybe even a jacket. I think perhaps I was slightly hopeful that he might consider wearing a tie since this is how most of the other men present would be dressed. Unfortunately for me, such a consideration had no influence on my husband’s conviction that it was fine that every other male there would be wearing a tie, and he would not.
“I’m from Truckee,” he told me matter-of-factly.
I know that, but the wedding was not being held in Truckee. In fact, it took place in Denver, a place where you would think maybe cowboy boots would be considered appropriate dress shoes for men, so maybe a tie would not be an issue.
However, the family of the bride all hailed from the East Coast. Therefore, the men expected at the wedding all lived and worked in Philadelphia or New York City, where attire is far more formal than we know it in our own cloistered mountain town out west.
Well, the end to this story is no surprise. My husband put on a nice dress shirt and was not fazed at all that he was less formally dressed than most everyone else. We danced and had a good time, and I guess it really didn’t matter what he was wearing.
The underlying, unresolved piece of this scenario was that darned old Venus and Mars thing that resurfaces now and then. Here was a situation where I chose what I was wearing based on all the information I could gather about what others were wearing. My husband gave that kind of information zero consideration.
The reason I am sharing this seemingly private marital matter is to point up the fact that I believe, here in Truckee, we just don’t dress up very often. Casual attire is acceptable just about anywhere.
Men and women wearing Teva sandals on their feet in the summertime while dining in our excellent local restaurants is considered perfectly acceptable. If you look like you just came into town from an afternoon of rock climbing or riding your mountain bike or hiking, and you decided to stop by one of the nice restaurants downtown, no one would stare at you or make you feel unwelcome because you weren’t dressed appropriately.
Such clothing worn into a “very best” restaurant in New York City would probably result in your not even being let in the door. A bar in the town where I grew up has dark-colored blazers hanging at the front door for male patrons to wear who are not wearing a jacket, so that they’ll adhere to the required dress code. That kind of thing is unheard of in these parts. My husband would probably refuse to go in such a place.
Many of you are probably familiar with the term “Truckee formal.” I think it was started as a facetious dress requirement for the Truckee Follies, and according to one source, it used to mean, at least for men, to wear your cleanest pair of jeans, and not a t-shirt. According to a friend of mine, “Truckee formal” for men has now evolved to mean a pair of khaki pants and a denim shirt.
This same friend of mine also told me, “If I need to wear a tie someplace, then I don’t want to go there.”
Once in a while I will see a local attorney around town who happens to be wearing a tie. This strikes me as out of the ordinary, until I realize that they must be going to court that day. Judge Holmer always seems to be wearing a white shirt and tie under his judicial robes. I’ve also noticed on the Channel 6 televised broadcast of school district board meetings that Superintendent Pat Gemma wears a tie.
I may tuck away these examples of Truckee-dwelling, tie-wearing men for the next time a similar discussion comes up at my house. Or I may just let go of it.
— Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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