In defence of the necktie

The humble tie may be something of a rarity in offices nowadays, but Ernie Richardson thinks it needs to be preserved

By Ernie Richardson

Here’s something that I’ve noticed as I visit offices up and down the country: the tie, once a staple of gentlemen’s work wear, is falling out of favour.

    ... I think a suit with no tie looks somehow incomplete, like a yacht with no sails...  

Nowadays, most professional males don’t feel the need to wear a tie as a sign of their worldly status. With the exception of a few old-timers, or people in finance departments, most blokes are happy to wear an open-necked shirt, even when attending important business meetings.

As a committed necktie wearer, I find this trend distressing. When even the House of Commons accepts that MPs don’t need to wear ties in the chamber, you can’t help but think there’s an unacceptable laxity in our nation’s sartorial rules.

Now, I get all that stuff about the tie being a symbol of oppression. Some commentators even think they’re phallic in meaning, as this article in Psychology Today explains.

But others, like French president Emmanuel Macron, recognise that wearing a tie denotes status. It tells the world not only that you’re a person of substance, but also that you respect the office you hold. That you believe it’s important to dress appropriately, if not for your sake then for the sake of those around you.

So I’m keen to defend the tie from its detractors. When I put mine on, it’s like wearing a uniform. I feel ready for work, and have confidence that my appearance creates the right sort of impression: I’m taking my job seriously, which means I’m taking your company seriously. You can rely on me, because I want to be here, and I want to do the best I possibly can for you.

If I’m not wearing a suit, I’m happy to be open-necked in the shirt department. Chinos, jacket and checked shirt is a good look for the majority of casual situations.

But, and I know I’m in the minority here, I think a suit with no tie looks somehow incomplete, like a yacht with no sails or Take That without Jason Orange. On the rare occasions I’ve tried it, I’ve spent the whole day feeling as if I’ve left something behind. Which of course I have.

That said, there is something worse than a tieless suit wearer: the person who wants to display their independent spirit so knots their tie only loosely around their neck, top button undone and chest gaping. That’s like buying a flat cap and wearing it backwards: you’d be better off not to bother.

Likewise, I’m not keen on the novelty tie. I’ll admit that a few of mine are adorned with animals: the odd pink flamingo here, the occasional elephant there. But on the whole I favour spots, stripes or just a plain colour, preferably fairly dark. I certainly don’t enjoy comic-strip-themed ties, or ones with musical instrument designs.

Maybe all this simply confirms your suspicion that tie-wearers are the dinosaurs of business dress. Maybe you think only fuddy-duddies want to defend this archaic means of sartorial oppression. And maybe you’re right.

But then again, next time you see a male performing a task that you regard as really important (it’s different for females; funny that) – auditing your accounts, say, or offering legal advice, or preparing to remove your appendix – ask yourself whether a tie makes them seem more or less competent.

I reckon you’ll be reaching for your own tie collection in no time at all.

Published: 2 April 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll probably like – The Just Recruitment guide to fashion

You may also want to read – The Just Recruitment guide to interview dressing

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