Publications as disparate as the Wall Street Journal, the Times of India, and the Financial Times are asking: “Will Ties Ever Be Relevant Again?,” “Are Neckties Going Extinct?” and “Is This the End of the Tie?” Allow me to answer: Neckties are irrelevant, going extinct, and ending.
It is past time for gentlemen to stop wearing neckties. These cloth relics are ridiculous, outdated, and potentially harmful to both your health and your self-esteem. They are bad for you as an individual and bad for society as a whole, and once you separate yourself from their cultural meaning and baggage and look at them objectively, they’re as silly as spats.
If you are forced to wear a necktie because you have some kind of “professional job,” the time has come to stand up to your oppressors and demand freedom for your neck. What are they going to do, fire everyone? Over a piece of cloth? Workers are rising up and unionizing all over the country over wages and benefits. Isn’t not wearing a necktie just as important?
Who are the tie-wearers?
You know who always wears a necktie? Salesmen, lawyers, and politicians — all professions based on trying to gain trust from people who really should not trust you.
Less consistent tie-wearers include people who follow the annoying advice to “dress for the job you want to have” (this is why I dress as Wonderwoman) and are aspiring to be business people who do business things with stocks or mortgages. These people are essentially auditioning for a role in a play that’s closing, or trying to get into a club that no longer exists.
Sadly, some people actually are impressed with people in ties, or trust men in suits more than men who dress normally, but I feel like that’s starting to change. It has for me, anyway; when I see someone in a necktie, I assume they are a revenue agent who has come to shut down my still.
Science says ties are harmful to your health
The science has spoken:
- Ties constrict blood flow to the brain.
- Wearing a tie may “compromise the venous drainage of the brain and thus impair cerebrovascular reactivity.”
- Wearing a tie could affect the management of glaucoma.
- Wearing ties can increase strain on the upper trapezius muscle and could exacerbate musculoskeletal injuries.
I realising these are not studies that show an alarming danger from wearing neckties, and I wonder what these same scientist would conclude about the dangers of wearing pants, but I’m not aware of any studies that indicate it’s healthier to wear a tie than to not wear a tie. So I’ll go ahead and conclude that ties are killing us all.
What is a necktie all about, anyway?
Unless you use it to wipe your mouth, a necktie has no function. It’s entirely affectation, so you have to ask yourself why you, or someone else, wants you to tie a piece of cloth around your neck, but only in a specific way, using one of four knots.
The cultural and symbolic meaning of wearing a necktie is open to interpretation, but you can view a tie as as either a gigantic arrow that points down to your junk (gross) or a symbolic representation of your dong itself, cut off and tied around your neck at the demand of a higher status person (kinky).
Traditionally, neckties functioned as the one place where a man could express his individuality through clothing. The rest of the suit was grey flannel, but you had this tiny sliver of cloth that you were allowed to decorate to express who you are. This gave rise to guys wearing novelty ties with golf tees on them, ties in the colours of their alma mater, ties with little ducks on them for guys who really like ducks, and other sad little “statements.” Instead of that, why not just dress as the person you are everywhere? Have some courage, and wear golf tees on your pants. Unbutton your shirt and wear a gold lion pendant. The world’s almost over anyway.
Ties are already out of style, you nerd
There’s an old saying that I made up that says, “As goes Lancaster, California, so goes the world,” and R. Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, recently asked his city attorney to research whether he could forbid city employers from requiring employees wear neckties to work. It doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere, but R. Rex was asking the right question: Can I use the draconian power of local government to dictate what people are allowed to wear? While I’d respond “What? No!” the mayor’s heart’s in the right place. But it’s not going to take the machinery of The State to crush the tie. Ties are old-fashioned relics already, and they aren’t coming back. Capitalism’s current heroes, tech bros from Silicon Valley, haven’t worn ties for at least 20 years. Richard Branson doesn’t wear a tie. Don Knotts chose a stylish ascot. As the Atlantic pointed out, neckties are the new bow ties, and you do not want to be that guy who wears a bow tie, trust me.
When it is a good idea to wear a tie
They’re bad for your health, ridiculous, and out of date, but there are two (and only two) occasions when it is a good idea to wear a necktie.
When you’re playing dress-up
I’m fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles, where hardly anyone fucks with ties, so I haven’t had to wear a tie since I went to Catholic high school. The occasions when anyone even expects me to wear a tie — weddings, arraignment — are few and far between, but it’s fun to dress formally in an old school way for the right occasion, so I keep a few nice ties in my closet. (I also keep a wizard robe to go to the Renaissance Faire.)
If you are pulling a Val Lewton
Movie producer Val Lewton came up in the 1950s, when even people who worked on movies had to wear neckties every day. Lewton, producer of Cat People among other masterpieces, was a cultured man with a stylish look, but occasionally, seemingly randomly, he would show up at RKO Pictures wearing an extremely ugly tie. When asked about it, Lewton explained, “I only wear this tie when I have a meeting with someone I hate. So they have to look at it.” This is my favourite reason for wearing a tie.