What are you wearing? OSU President E. Gordon Gee

  • Photos by Alysia Burton
By
From the February 2, 2012 edition

E. Gordon Gee

Age: 68

Job: President of Ohio State University

Label your style: “Lovable nerd”

Tie: from Carrot & Gibbs, who call themselves the makers of “the finest bow ties you can buy” and are among Gee’s favorites. When Gee says he has “a lot” in scarlet and gray, you know he’s serious — he owns about 2,000 bow ties, about half of which are “inactive” and will soon be made into a quilt for his daughter, Rebekah. He’s been wearing bow ties since he was 15, and “there are very few I’ve gotten rid of,” he said. “I’m a pack rat. I don’t wear the same one but once a year. We have them ordered very carefully, and there’s a map of them that they have at the house — the stripes, the dots, the paisleys, the plains.” He sometimes gives how-to-tie lessons to students, and he tells those he sees wearing them that “they’re going to get an A.”

Braces: They’re different from suspenders, he explained, because they attach to buttons inside a waistband, as opposed to clipping onto the waistband. They’re an essential part of his look and must be color-coordinated with the bow tie.

Argyle socks: Because he wore a gray suit and gave a speech Downtown the day of the photo shoot, they’re “more muted” than usual, he said. Argyle is far and away his preferred pattern. When asked if anyone influenced (or influences) his style, he’s quick to answer: “I’m so opinionated about everything. I have a very clear sense of what I like to wear and do it without much advice.”

Glasses: These pinkish-clear ones are a favorite, as are black ones. The horn-rimmed, circular lenses “aren’t easy to find,” and the Oliver Peoples label is often his source. He’s been wearing glasses since he was very young, which prompted us to ask what he looked like when he was decked out in glasses and a bow tie at, say, age 20. “I looked like a goofus,” he said. “I looked like a nerd. And I am. But I’m a lovable nerd.”

iPhone: He prefers wearing it on an outside holster so he can feel it if it vibrates. “I’m very electronically engaged.”

Ohio State poker chip: In his pocket daily as a reminder to “constantly go to my higher angels,” adding, “I change it as soon as it gets worn out, but I don’t want to change it just to change it, because they’ve been all over the world with me.”

Ohio State pocketknife: Always in the other pocket.

Favorite cologne (or one of them): St. Johns Bay Rum

Favorite shampoo: Bath & Body Works eucalyptus spearmint aromatherapy. “I can smell it [right now]. I love it.”

About the ties photographed separately:

Heart tie: from his daughter, Rebekah

Flip-flop tie: “It’s a great tie I wear once in a while in the spring, with the students.”