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Thursday, 1 August 2013

All Tied Up?

Wearing a tie has to be one of the most enduring of dress codes but isn’t it about time that it becomes regarded as a true anachronism?

When I started work as a fresh faced graduate recruit back in the mid-eighties wearing a tie to work was obligatory. Never mind that I regularly worked near conveyors and was therefore at constant risk of being throttled by the wretched thing, I would have risked censure if I had turned up to work without one. In really hot weather we may have generously been allowed to remove them for short periods.

The modern tie dates back to the 1920’s when Prince Edward popularised them as a symbol of success and status for the emerging middle class and Jesse Langsdorf in New York patented the method by which most ties are still produced today. The origin of the modern tie probably dates back to the Thirty Years’ War in France when it was worn as a means of identification by Croatian soldiers (the officers used silk) although its earliest predecessor was worn by Roman legionnaires to keep warm and blow their noses on!

Ties... true anarchronism.. or not?
It is over 10 years since I regularly wore a tie to work but it persists as a convention in any formal setting. This creates some peculiar situations such as client meetings with people who are far more casually dressed while I feel trussed up wearing this ridiculous and entirely superfluous item of clothing.

There was recently a lengthy discussion on a LinkedIn Group as to whether it is ever acceptable for male consultants to wear shorts to work in the hot weather. Although my instinctive reaction was “No” I subsequently had a change of heart. The acceptable dress code for my female colleagues certainly encompasses a much wider range of types and styles than it does for men, so I am now inclined to say “Why not?”

Although I am unlikely to inflict the sight of my legs on people I may work with any time soon, I do think it is time to consign the tie to history. If you want to wear one then fine, but stop regarding it as mandatory in any formal situation.

Written by Mike Gamble:

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