Yes, science geniuses can have a passion for fashion, too. Par example? Bill Nye, (a.k.a. the Science Guy), who is still capturing the hearts of kids and adults almost 18 years after his final episode aired. Now, he’s celebrating the launch of his bow-tie collaboration with Nick Graham and his new book, Unstoppable. After testing him to find out how long it takes him to fasten a bow tie (we counted 15 seconds, and that’s without looking in a mirror!), we got the lowdown on the science that goes into his style.
This is your first foray into fashion! Why now?
Well, it’s more like why not 20 years ago? It’s because I finally met the right person, Nick Graham. I met a guy who gets it, and to me is a great designer.
How did you two meet?
We met at The Infinite Monkey Cage, a British radio show with a studio audience. It turned out that Nick had a big interest in science, so we met up at the after party and we hit it off. He asked me if I ever had a line of bow ties and I said I’d been trying to do that for years. Nick was the first guy, in my opinion, that understood what’s involved. We want to celebrate science and have people wear bow ties that look good—and that you actually tie! They’re not clip-ons, people! We looked at a ton of patterns and picked a dozen to start with. I hope we expand the line to thousands!
We have to know…How many bow-ties do you own?
And you’ve been collecting them for how long?
Well, I’m almost 60, so they add up! They don’t wear out. I have one of my grandfather’s bow-ties and I have several of my father’s. You don’t throw those away; you keep them around.
What about straight ties?
I might have three.
Yeah, one that I wore to my first job interview at Boeing—I got the job. It was Yves Saint Laurent and I got a suit to go with it. My mom bought it for me and I still have it. Then I have one that a girl who I really liked bought for me, and then one that another woman gave me. It’s Japanese and it’s kind of cool. But that’s it. What would I do with such a thing? They’re more like souvenirs.
Who do you look up to on the fashion front?
The guys I admired were Rick Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Sean Connery as James Bond. But I gotta tell you, I think Daniel Craig looks pretty freakin’ sharp in Spectre. I saw it Friday; I love Bond films. But I was hoping that the older gal would get a lot more screen time. I could’ve gone for a lot more of that…
Where does a man wear a bow-tie?
Whenever you’re wearing a tuxedo you should wear a bow tie. If you wear a bow tie with white shirts and studs, I guarantee people will react versus a straight tie, which you can’t see in the tux.
Is there a place you should never wear a bow tie?
I would say a swim meet. If you’re a racer, it’s probably not the best place. Scuba-diving is also probably not a great choice, but I have actually worn a bow tie scuba diving. It was on the Wet Land show. I was sitting at a desk, underwater, breathing from a scuba tank and wearing a bow tie with a wet suit underneath.
Have you ever been to New York Fashion Week?
No, I haven’t, but I’d love to. I never thought about it much, but now that I’m hanging out with my buddy Nick, my new BFF, it’s cool.
What’s the science behind dressing well?
My father and my uncle got along really well. They disagreed about politics but agreed about science. My aunt described my dad as “crisp.” She liked that because dressing crisp is out of respect for people you’re meeting with. This is true in a lot of men. I don’t think I’ll ever be as cool as my dad, but I strive for that. My parents dressed like the characters in Mad Men. That’s how they rolled in that time. People took a lot of time to get ready for stuff back then and the clothes costed more and lasted longer. I think that affects fashion today because clothes are just cranked out. At some level, I try to be crisp. As Jerry Seinfeld has said, he wears a sport coat and a tie because he dresses as well, or better than, the audience out of respect; you’re paying money and I’m showing you respect.
What would we be surprised to find in your closet?
They’re frisbees. I played Ultimate for many years and started a team in Seattle. I look forward to Ultimate being an Olympic and international sport. Think about it: The offense can’t score unassisted. In hockey, soccer, and basketball, one person can put it in the goal or the hoop, but in Ultimate, the offense has to throw it from one person to another. You can’t score on your own.
Interesting. What’s your “getting ready” routine?
I wash my hair every day and use product. Makeup artists are obsessed with “product,” so I let them go with the noun that they use. Other people would call it cement or glue, but I don’t do that myself. And then I put face cream on in the morning and night. I use Pond’s, as my grandmother always did, and I’ve got to say there’s an Art of Shaving skin lotion I’m really loving. But, I will say that guys spend less time and money on clothes than women—and I have no problem with that. However, I’m a huge fan of women dressed up. You might call me a pig, but I love women in heels. The red-soled high heels are pretty good. They’re a yes.
Yeah, and I like stockings too. I heard they’re making a bit of a comeback? But in the summertime I obviously don’t expect that. Women in dresses are smoking hot. What made the Mary Tyler Moore show great were her slacks. For the 35th anniversary of the Planetary Society, I was onstage with Jeri Ryan—she played Seven of Nine of Star Trek. Let me just say…jeez!
Is she your celebrity crush?
Yeah, but she’s not my only one. I was on Dancing with the Stars and I looked at all of those women and was like, “Are you a wax figure? Who are you people?” They’re all striking.
Would you consider yourself a fashion icon?
Oh yes! The world show follow everything I do. [Laughs] But on the bow tie front, yes. For the holidays you should all buy Bill Nye x Nick Graham bow ties.