Cutting the ties that bind

I haven’t worn a tie in months, maybe even a year. It may have something to do with my partial unemployment and attempts to act heretical when I have to go to church, but even while still an executive, I all but stopped wearing them. A suit with a shirt became my uniform: my Conde Nast protective coloration, a friend said. I’m ready to throw them out and I’m wondering whether it’s possible that at long last, the tie is out.

I’m not alone. Jeremy Paxman, irascible BBC anchor on Newsnight, blogged against the tie:

It has always been an utterly useless part of the male wardrobe. But now, it seems to me, the only people who wear the things daily are male politicians, the male reporters who interview them – and dodgy estate agents. . . .

The main reason we remain trussed up is simply the dead hand of convention. House of Commons rules say that men must not appear open-necked. But then the rules also say there are no liars in the House.

Increasingly, ties are simply bits of cloth which we hang around our necks when getting married, attending a funeral, or when called for a job interview.

This made for a proper hubbub in the Telegraph:

However, the attack on ties has left its defenders distinctly hot under the collar.

Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ magazine, said: “The fact that fewer men wear ties makes the wearing of them even more important.

“When men do wear ties, it makes them more powerful.” . . .

Nicholas Worth, the manager of the Jermyn Street tailors Hawes and Curtis, said: “Ties are selling very well. In fact, we are selling more than we used to.

“People don’t like open necks or dress down days. I think men of a certain age, like Jeremy Paxman or Jeremy Clarkson, think not wearing ties or wearing jeans is cool. It’s not, it’s just sad.”

Off with the yoke. Damn the tie.

But then again, when my mother saw my appearance on Reliable Sources (above) her only comments was that I was the one guy who was not wearing a tie.

  • I always wear a tie so I appear to be more competent than I really am.

  • Tom

    I agree that it is stupid to make people wear ties. However, I am all for wearing them out of choice. However, why stop at that type of neckwear. A cravat adds a dash to almost any getup, whilst my neckerchief now, gives a touch of the Alpine to my ensemble. Get rid of the mandatory tie, bring on a more sophisticated approach to neck decoration.

  • If not wearing ties is to become the norm than it is also time to redesign the shirt.

    The button at the top was meant to be covered by the tie. So without a tie one is left with an unsightly button hole a drooping collar.

    Nehru looked fine without a tie. How about it fashion industry – let’s have a new shirt front!

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  • Paw

    Kermit’s got it right. Many a moron has hiddden behind a top drawer business wardrobe. They don’t call it an empty T shirt, after all.

  • You might want to check out my friend, Lord Whimsy’s take on ties. He’s a BIG fan. But he is, truth be told, a dandy.

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  • Left to my own devices I’d never wear one again. But I still think it is a gesture of respect when interviewing for a job, just like wearing a suit rather than just good clothes.

    So if you see me in a tie you know where I’m going — or if loosened, where I’ve just been.

  • Thank God I’m an ARTIST…we’re officially exempted from having to wear ties according to the Geneva Convention…

  • SteveSgt

    I have always called neck ties, “brain tourniquets”. One of the reasons is that people who seem to wear them the most appear to have risen to their level of incompetence faster than most (see Peter Principle). I speculate that when you get to a certain level of success, reducing blood flow to the brain is a way to handicap the competitors. (See Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”.)

  • Cooler Heads

    Jeff, really. You sound like you’re having some kind of mid-life crisis. As though never wearing a tie is some kind of “statement.”

    For women, it’s like never wearing stockings again. Yep, it might be more comfortable. But if you are in a skirt, dressing to look good, then showing your white, pasty, possibly stubbly legs is just sloppy.

    True, it shouldn’t matter if one prefers to look sloppy. But it’s a choice, not the end of dressing well.

    I think a man in a suit and a great tie is more sexy than a slob in a t-shirt and suit jacket anytime. Good thing you’re not trying to attract women, Jeff. Then the no-tie thing will work out great.

  • hillwomp

    One thing’s for sure. Every man looks good in a suit that’s clean and pressed and properly coordinated with a fresh shirt and tasteful tie. Only a few have enough natural or learned style to look good in casual wear. Casual offices are demonstrations of why most people shouldn’t be allowed to dress themselves.

  • Stan Joosten

    Jeff, you are in good company here – albeit a bit late. The late Prince Claus, husband to Dutch Queen Beatrix, on Dec. 14, 1998, during an award speech in Amsterdam called for all men to throw off their ‘shackles’ (neckties) after which he threw his at the feet of his wife. It was a hilarious moment which many Dutch people will still remember. There was almost a national movement born against wearing neckties, including newscasters following the prince’s lead. More about this interesting man:

  • Speaking from my position in the Telegraph newsroom, I can see five ties shared between about 40 men. I wear a tie sometimes myself but it’s purely for my own entertainment.

    A choice is good but there are times when a suit does look better with a tie. God save us from dress down Fridays.

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  • Harry

    “When men do wear ties, it makes them more powerful.” . . .

    Yes, I can bench press 20 more pounds when I’m wearing a tie.

  • So are ties still the thing in New York? I think the East Coast is the last holdout– they clearly don’t exist in California and they’re fairly rare here in Chicago, certainly you don’t still see them in media professions (in fact, the only guys you see wearing them around an ad agency are sales reps, so it’s actually kind of a reverse indicator of class). I don’t know if they’ll go away entirely, but the few professions where they still are worn– like the high end law firms– clearly wear them in part because nobody else does; it helps justify the fees to see everybody in Armani complete with tie.

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  • Jim Wellington

    Men who take off their ties think they are being impressive and young and free. They are not. They are just making fools of themselves.

    Perhaps Jeremy Paxman should start doing the news with his polished brogues and silk socks off. After all, bare feet are even more comfortable.

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  • Lots of good commentary above. It’s a funny thing, but we broke the dress code where I work a couple of years ago, vetoing the boss’ request that we all wear ties — sheesh! — c’mon — we are all a bunch of code monkey geeks!

    But, things change in time now don’t they. The new kid they recently hired is a dresser. He wears a tie everyday (except for some Fridays (what a way to live huh!)) — and he is getting ahead. Moving up the ladder … fast.

    So, there you have it … you can do good work and be overlooked, but if you dress the way your boss wants … you’ll get ahead in life.

    Anyway, I like novelty ties, that fit occasions, as that is very kewel … but to dress each do just to go to work and sit at my computer and write html … I really don’t think that is necessary.


  • B.Auton

    Lighten up you non tie wearers! You all seem so hung up on trying to be ‘modern’ or by thinking you’re being rebellious by NOT wearing a tie – sheesh, in my experience these days, it is the rebels who DO wear ties so get with it! I agree with BK above and think novelty ties are cool and have about 100 – one for every occasion. They have always created a buzz in the office and all my bosses have liked them in the past as it denotes individuality, personality and a person who doesn’t take them themselves too damn seriously!

  • Saying ties are a useless part of a mans wardrobe is very unfair. Ties have long been a very important part of a mans.
    I dont that see that day in the near future when doctors, lawyers, businessmen will leave homes in the morning with their top collars open without a tie!

  • Richard

    The sad part about the comments from persons who support Tie Wearing is that they argue using extreme. They say, if you don’t wear a tie, that means you will be wearing a T-Shirt. Now, who’s being silly and unprofessional?

    Wearing a tie doesn’t invoke professionalism. Additionally, not wearing a tie doesn’t mean slippers, T-Shirt and shorts. Button down shirts are still very professional looking. What is unprofessional is wearing button shirts and showing undershirts or too much chest. It should be buttoned up to the last button (not the neck tie button). Professionalism is maintained and persons are comfortable.

    There are more successful companies were employees don’t wear ties than vice versa. It’s about employee morale. Get that up and get people to perform. In turn, the company will perform.

  • johnnyboy

    Good looks easily make up for a tie. I’m so damned handsome that a tie would be overkill and the mark of someone trying too hard. With all due respect, most poor sods wear one in order to dress up that horrid bumpy sphere that resides above their neck.