Death of Strangulation

|
Now that Father's Day is behind us, it may be time to retire the necktie as a present. In a recent survey, only 6% of men said that they wear a tie daily. A full 67% of men never wear a tie to work at all, which is only 66.999% ahead of the percentage of men who never wear pants to work.
As for me, I don't think I've worn a tie to work for over five years. Then again, I work in academia where some people wear sweatpants to work, so it's really not much of an issue. The last time, I wore a tie regularly was in high school when it was required. It's a strange feeling to know that you were better dressed at age sixteen than you are now.

Ten years ago, when I started as a temp in academia, I think I actually wore a suit on my first day, to the extreme consternation of the people there. I could just sense the whispered conversations, "Hey, check out the temp in the suit!" What can I say? I had just finished temping for a bank and didn't know any better. Now, if I wore a tie to work, most people would probably just assume that I had a job interview.

During one of my first jobs, my boss, Bob, wore a tie every day of the week, until the summer when he would just wear a button-down shirt. At that point, I embarked on what I called the Bob-Minus-One dress code. If he wore a suit and tie, I wore a button-down shirt. If he wore a button-down shirt, I would switch to the casual polo shirt. It was a simple system. Thankfully, he never came to work in a tuxedo, or for that matter a tank-top and shorts.

For my generation, the tie is becoming a rarity. It's safe to say that my father's Remington Motorized Tie Organizer ("Holds 48 ties!") will probably not fetch much money on eBay. The tie may have died earlier this month. That's when the American Dress Furnishings Association, the lobbying group that represents the tie industry, decided to disband. This is a shame, because they were by far the best dressed lobbyists in Washington. Well, except for the now-defunct blue suede shoes and bow-tie lobbies.

The Wall Street Journal speculated that the true death of the necktie took place two years ago when several members of the Tie Lobby showed up at their annual luncheon without wearing ties. I think the real problem is Casual Friday. Once people started dressing down one day a week and the world didn't end, it made sense to dress down the rest of the week. Casual Monday was only a few years behind Casual Friday.

Opinion on this is mixed. Many feel the tie has no use and should be discarded, but there are those who will defend it -- possibly to the death. In the Daily Telegraph, Gerald Warner writes, "News that the most iconic item of male dress, the necktie, is in danger of falling out of fashion in America is a grim intimation of the decline of yet another civilisation. The tie is a weathervane of the health of a society."

Mr. Warner goes on to discuss various knots. He dislikes the Windsor knot and points out that "The Half-Windsor, an anaemic version of this aberration, is similarly to be abominated." He prefers the Four-in-Hand, and well don't we all?

Poor Mr.Warner. The world may have past him by. I'm tempted to ask him if he thinks the open-toed sandal should be worn with or without white socks in the workplace, but I think his head might explode.

Luckily, it's not all bad news for the tie industry. There's one place on earth where ties are making a comeback: Iran. The necktie has long been considered a "symbol of western decadence" in Iran, but recently it has grown in popularity. Unfortunately, the Iranian government has noticed and is starting to crack down on imports of ties. So far, they haven't been successful, and hopefully the tie will flourish there just as it flounders in this country.

Well, at least until the Iranians start having Casual Friday. After that, it will be all over for the tie.
  • http://JoeLavin.com

    A periodic humor column, disguised as a blog. New columns published on Tuesdays or not as the case may be.

    joe@joelavin.com

Archives

  • I've written for Slate, The Boston Globe Magazine, Salon, McSweeney's, WBUR Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail, and many other publications. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy my Internet column.

  • ©1995-2009 Joe Lavin