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midweek musings on menswear at work

Talking to people about formal business wear at work this week, there is no sign of any abandonment of the collar and tie for men. With all of the moves to try and dispose of the tie, why is it still with us?

OK, so I am in an environment here where there are two sets of pressures; one is for the people around me, my clients, and they talk about peer pressure and expectations, but who are these peers? Are there not enough of them to ring the changes? The other pressure is on me and my colleagues, for we are here as professionals; consultants being paid to transform the organisation, and there is an expectation on us to conform to the client’s ways if nothing else.

For me personally it is an opportunity to wear a few on my ties again for I have a large collection and love them dearly, but I rarely wear them unless I am, as today, out on business.

In my days in big corporate I used to joke that if I took my tie off during office hours my head would fall off, but truth be told I do love neck ties. I have about a hundred of them ranging from sober business ties through more jocular examples and on to bow ties (and yes I am a bow tie snob who would not be seen dead wearing a ready tied example).

Why do I like them? I think that they can provide an expression of individuality amongst the relative blandness of the business suit; that splash of colour that can be loud or just set off the executive uniform.

But even as a fan I don’t wear them that often these days. I don’t have the need to go to the office every day and, even when I do, I don’t always wear a tie. I decided to shake off them bonds of conformity several years ago and only revert to it when I feel that I will make others uncomfortable if I don’t.

Even with die hard tie wearers like me giving it up though, there is no real sign of any major decline and even guys I am working with who are the same age as my grandchildren wear their ties to work every day. Peer pressure then? Is that real or just imagined.

I don’t want to see any national Don’t Wear a Tie days because that sort of nonsense is too false, even if it was to be done on the basis of raising money for a good cause. No, I’d like to see people wear what they would like to wear rather than what they think other people want them to wear. And if there was widespread abandonment of the tie then I might start wearing mine more often again; it’s so nice to buck a trend.

  1. D'artagnian
    March 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with you about individualality John and have likewise dusted off my ties and waistcoats collection. But partly it’s about the ritual of putting on a shirt, tie (even cufflinks!). For those of us who were trained long ago that this was the professional look for business going through such rituals prepares us for the day and can inspire some self-confidence.

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