Okay, I’m going to let my clothes cat out of the hamper, so to speak. I’ve got some pretty strong feelings about what’s appropriate at work, so hold on to your hat…
I don’t really like ties. I used to like ’em because they made me feel all grown up (I used to like shaving, too), but I’ve slowly turned away and now I’ve got a couple dozen ties hanging uselessly in my closet. Oh, I wear one occasionally. To funerals, for instance. But so far, funerals are a pretty rare occurrence in my life.
For a while, I worked at a job where ties were compulsory. I don’t really like uniforms (imagine that), so I wore a lot of bow ties, just to bug the people who cared about the dress code. Later, I got into my power broker phase and wore regular ties all the time. Then it began to occur to me that ties are silly. They get in the way when you write. They are food magnets. They blow around in the wind. Seatbelts mess ’em up. You’ve always got to check the knot to make sure it’s still snug, and I’ve got enough trouble making sure my pants are still zipped–I don’t need the extra hassle of keeping a tie snug. You’ve got to spend time tying and retying them so the bottom of the tie ends up at just the right spot, not to mention getting the knot just right (don’t get me started on guys who leave their ties tied and just slip ’em on and off). This might sounds totally a/r (anally retentive), but if you don’t care about all of this, why would you ever bother wearing a tie? If you wear a tie, you’ve got to care about this or risk looking like a total goombah. The only way you can get out of caring about all this is if you’re required to wear a tie and you don’t like ties. But is that really a good solution? If you’re required to wear a tie, then really, you’ve got to pay attention to these bits, or else you’ll look dorky to the people who do care about ties. Your alternative is to learn to tie a bow tie (which you can already do if you possess shoe-tying skills).
Some guys wear tie clips. Please don’t. Tie clips are worse than ties because they’re an extra thing for something that’s useless in the first place. You put on a tie that serves no purpose, then you put on a tie clip to keep the thing with no purpose out of your way. I don’t get it. And tie tacks might even be worse than tie clips, since you’ve actually got to poke a hole in the tie!
Now don’t get me wrong. I like a little sartorial splendor now and then. I see the beauty in the fabric of a really nice tie (on someone else). And believe it or not, I’m a fan of shirts with french cuffs. I like finding funky cufflinks. But french cuffs are comfy–lots of room around the wrist. Ties, on the other hand, are hard to get right. If your shirt is too loose, it looks goofy. If your shirt is too tight, it looks painful.
Despite how I must sound, I’m not necessarily a fan of business casual (though if I had my druthers it’d be Gramicci’s and Hawaiian shirts every day). I appreciate good business attire–wool suit pants, pinpoint shirts, nice shoes. I just don’t like ties.
I’ve got a lot more steam left in me regarding business attire, but I’ll rant about shirts and shoes another time…