On the first page of Nabokov's Pnin the eponymous hero's clothing is described and it includes a "flamboyant goon tie". What exactly is that?
These days goon neckties are considered trendy bearing printed slogans similar to those seen on bumper stickers. But when Pnin was teaching at an upstate New York university in the early 1940s the term 'goon' meant 'fighter', 'thug', 'gangster'--characters who wore tasteless neckties (broad and bright colors often with large floral patterns, palm trees, garish plaids or overly-wide stripes.Bear in mind this was the Swing Era in America.) When I read this line I instantly knew what Vlad meant. Since I grew up in the Forties and Fifties I've seen these 'goon' ties which are understated compared to what is out there now. I imagine that these goon ties will become fashionable again if the patterns from those days can be identified and duplicated. You might Google 'necktie patterns of the 1940s', click on images and you'll get a good idea of exactly what Nabokov meant. To Pnin, the prim European, most American neckties of the period would qualify as 'goon ties'.