YORBA LINDA — Gerald Ford is the only U.S. President to occupy the White House without winning a national election. In a new exhibit on presidential neckwear, Ford is also the only chief executive represented by a polyester tie. But, hey, it was the 70s.
Sponsored by the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, the neckwear display showcases the ties and accessories of Presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton. Nixon library curators hope the exhibit sheds more light onto a subject that has been "woefully neglected by political scientists," according to a sign at the exhibit.
Since opening in June, thousands of library visitors have browsed through such presidential fashion items as Abraham Lincoln's bow-tie, Calvin Coolidge's cuff links and George Bush's red-and-green-striped Christmas tie.
The exhibit gives the public the chance to rate the Presidents' fashion sense--and it isn't always complimentary.
What about Nixon's favorite dark blue tie with white stripes worn on a 1992 visit to Moscow?
"It's pretty boring," said Barbara Anderson, 44, visiting the library Wednesday morning from Sioux Falls, S.D. "It's really boring."
Nixon's predecessor didn't fare much better with some visitors either. A black-and-silver pin-striped tie worn by President Lyndon Johnson while signing the Air Quality Act in 1967 didn't do much for George Harris of Huntington Beach.
"That Johnson tie," said Harris, 66, a retired aerospace executive. "Even when it was in style I wouldn't have worn that one."
While not a political favorite with visitors, President Bill Clinton drew much praise for his sartorial choices. A navy tie with printed red and green owls worn by Clinton when playing saxophone for Russia President Boris Yeltsin pleased Laguna Beach resident Pat Kelley, a Republican.
"I don't care for him at all, I probably shouldn't say that," said Kelley, 61. "But I like his bright tie."
The exhibit runs through Sept. 6.