Old Ties

At one point in my life I probably owned well over four dozen ties (neckties) simply because I wore a suit to work each day of the work week, and occasionally over the weekends as well (weddings, formal dinners and so on).  The inside of my wardrobe looked very much like this:

Ties back then were not just about dressing well, nor even some kind of workplace uniform.  They were a mark of your individuality, a means whereby you could differentiate yourself from all the other guys dressed like you in their blue or gray pinstripe 3-piece suits.

So I read this article with a certain degree of regret:

While the trouser suit – for men and women – continues to be a staple on catwalks at international fashion weeks, it seems that the old fashioned necktie isn’t quite so in favour with those seeking out business attire.  

On Twitter this week, City worker and think tank owner, William Wright, of New Financial, shared a snap that will strike anxiety into the heart of officewear traditionalists…a very pared down tie display. 

While the neck tie was once considered so vital to employees wearing a whistle-and-flute to the office that it spawned a whole shop – Tie Rack – dedicated to it, it seems the accessory is no longer on trend. 

Ignoring the teeth-grinding and pretentious “on trend” phrase — what we used to refer to simply as “fashionable” — the fact remains that with the trend going from “business suits”  to “business casual” to “casual” to “Jeremy Clarkson” to “one degree above fucking ghetto”, there is no future for men’s ties, which makes me melancholy.  It’s just another manifestation of what was once called “prole drift” — the propensity for society to degrade its appearance and manners towards the underclass and becoming a world of boors.

The plain fact is that putting on a tie makes a man look properly dressed when the occasion demands it.  I couldn’t think of attending something like a wedding, funeral or even a smart sit-down dinner without a tie.  Here’s what I mean:

Without a tie, even a decent suit looks wrong.

So I went over to my tie rack as it stands today, and counted my ties.  Eight neckties, two cravats and a bolo (string) tie — “Texas formal” — and that’s it.

My old tailor at Lightbody’s in Johannesburg is turning in his grave.

Afterthought:  A little while ago, New Wife and I were going out to dinner somewhere, and I put on a suit for the occasion but dispensed with neckwear because it wasn’t that formal an occasion.  When I asked her how I looked, she responded acidly:  “What about your tie?”

I was able to pull the Old Fart card here by putting my hand to my throat and feigning shock at my forgetfulness, but I don’t think she was fooled.  I think she has been sent to chide and chastise me by my late mother.


  1. There has been an irritating “trend” over the past 10 years or so where doods wear suits or jackets that are at least 1 size too small. Take a look at the dood in the right pik above. Too small. Notice how the jacket button is strained. Seems that that would be uncomfortable. Not to mention it looks stupid. These blokes also tend to wear brown or tan shoes with black or dark blue jackets. shudder No sense of style at all.

    1. Absolutely agree – it looks stupid and uncomfortable.

      That said, I’m sure most of my suits now fit that way. Can’t really understand it, they fit just fine when I bought them 20 years ago.

    2. thank you for bringing up the shoes Ghost. Brown shoes with a gray or blue suit are hideous.

      A suit without a tie makes the man look like a drunk.

      When I lived in Vermont I couldn’t find a store that sold suits. and what the heck are “suit separates” that some stores sell? The last time I bought a suit jacket the saleswoman tried to sell me a jacket that was too big then pay for alterations. Step down a size and it fit well.

      Ties? I have a few and bought two more last year for a couple of weddings. My ties were around ten years old and kind of dated. The suit still fit and the missus said it looked good.


    3. There are two other issues with that non tie suit –
      The shirt is wrong. You need a stiffer collar. In his, the jacket is smashing the collar.

      The worst, the most unforgivable sin is the narrow tapered trousers. You know who wears pants like that? Women, that’s who.

      Some of the suits I see on these millennials look like they are three years old and mommy stuffed them in a suit.

    4. Amen brother! These metrosexuals in their skinny Armanis look like teen age boys who outgrew their cheap Sunday suits. They are not only skinny suits, but the pants don’t reach their horrid tan shoes, showing their sockless ankles and add to the outgrown effect. Not to mention the jackets are cut too short and leave their asses hanging out and lifting the vent flap like they’re about to sit down to take a dump.

  2. OK, I admit that I occasionally shy away from the traditional necktie when wearing the old slacks ‘n’ jacket (but never with a suit). In my defense, I have strict rules: button-down collar so my shirt doesn’t look faggy, and a coordinating pocket square, just a bit less flashy than something Steve Harvey would wear.

    As far as those too-tight suits? All the young men at my nephew’s recent wedding were stuffed into undersized suits, working on a major case of ass rash for the next day. And me? comfy in my old, correctly-sized blue pinstripe, with ample room for the inevitable heavy lifting needed to escort my overserved wife home at the end of the evening.

    Oh, shoes? I haven’t worn a pair of lace-up shoes since Uncle Sam and I parted ways decades ago. I have yet to find an occasion–from denim to tuxedo–where simple black ostrich-skin Lucchese boots are not appropriate.

    1. I agree with you about Western boots.

      They’re all I wear.

      I have some natural (or wild) gators on today.

      I don’t own a pair of wingtips and the only time I wear loafers is with short pants.

  3. Kids today probably don’t know how to tie a tie.

    I also used to wear ties to work, but now I’ve embraced the non-tie lifestyle. So much so that I’m having a beach casual wedding next month. (it’s our second time around – small private affair)

    Still when the occasion merits, I will don a suit and tie or even a tuxedo (own two of them).

    1. Back in The Day, I ran a software shop staffed heavily with bright young smartasses. I cooled a bunch of them down one evening at a party with a game of competitive necktying–with bowties. What a great reminder that most of us guys don’t know how to do everything.

      1. Heh.. Bowties are easier to tie than neckties. When the occasion does merit, I usually opt for a bowtie instead of the traditional… just to be different.

        For an extra degree of difficulty I wear a bowtie with martini glasses on it. Not only do you have to know the “secrets” of a bowtie, but you gotta have the glasses all pointing the right way up.

    2. “Kids today probably don’t know how to tie a tie. ”

      Not much “probably” about it. The Son&Heir does (because he’s mine), but among his friends and contemporaries? Only the lawyers.

  4. Just counted mine. I have 83 ties, and I culled about 25 last year. I no longer wear a suit much, but EVERY time I do I wear a tie. This thing about wearing a suit without a tie perplexes me. I mean why bother? It’s half assed. Put on a suit put on a tie fercryinoutloud. I don’t get it. I get not wearing a suit much, just not wearing a suit without a tie.

    Cufflinks and pocket squares are almost as required as a tie. Almost.

  5. Our new CEO is of the type that wears the suit without a tie, top button or two of the shirt undone. Yeah, ok, looks more casual and I can see maybe that in a normal day at the office. But if you shooting a company wide message on video, then put the damn tie on! Hell, recently he and the entire board got to ring the bell (or whatever they do) at the NYSE and all the others – full suits and ties and he’s there looking like he’s about to head off to the bar after a day at the office.

    I mean, I haven’t worn a full suit since the last funeral, but if I was going be at that type of photo op? Yeah, suit AND tie. Jeez.

  6. The priest at church thanked me for wearing a tie to church every week. Most don’t anymore.
    I’ve also been expanding my collection of bow ties (they always stay straight), though I admit I don’t tie them as quickly as a regular tie.

  7. I probably have 75-100 ties

    I tend to wear a tie a couple of times a week

    I always wear a tie with a suit and I always wear a suit to court

    I try hard to look and behave like a gentleman

    I similarly endeavor to use proper English and diction

    I supplement my daily wardrobe, whatever it may be, with a Ruger LCR 38 Special in each pocket

  8. Just made the move from Nu Yoork to Arizona. Wife and I are retired. Culling all my possessions was part of the process. As an IBM guy for 30 years I had a closet of suits and probably 50 or 60 ties left. I figured at my age I needed just one suit. One pair of leather lace up black dress shoes. For my funeral. I kept 2 fat man sport jackets for church etc. Everything else went to the Salvation Army donation bin.

    What the youngin’s REALLY have never heard of are COLLAR STAYS. It just makes me laugh that when I see someone with a nice shirt and the collar points are askew.

  9. I rarely wear a tie. I see no reason to provide my enemies with the means to strangle me.

    But when I do wear a tie, it’s absolutely SPECTACULAR. I keep a few really nice silk ones around for the occassions they’re called for.

    As a GenX, I personally witnessed the collapse of the biz suit as standard in the late 80’s and early 90’s. My first professional job called for a tie and jacket for the first year, except for casual Fridays, which were the wedge that pried the whole thing open. By the time I left 3 years later, it was all over: every day was casual day. 3 years after that, it was a question as to whether >>pants<< were required in certain departments.

    I also was able to smoke IN MY OFFICE for the first year or so, until a polite deputation of peasants with rakes and torches asked me to stop. Also noteworthy: even entry level guys got offices back then. Cubes were for secretaries…and yes, those were still a thing, even though I didn't rate one as a n00b. Actually secretaries were already on their way out: no one had individual secretaries except the CEO. There were departmental secretaries, who served a half dozen or so people. Executive acceptance of the PC was the demise of that profession. Originally, executives eschewed PCs as secretarial equipment, until they were seriously outperformed by people who knew how to drive spreadsheet programs and make better decisions based on data analysis. Smart people adapted, the rest died.

  10. Sadly, style has gone out of style. It used to be that when a young man became a man, he was given a copy of the Book of Style, the Men’s Style Handbook, or something similar. Not anymore. Now people go to formal dinners looking like rappers or beach bums. I’ve seen people come to fancy restaurants with ball caps, their women dressed like strippers. Classless.
    It saddens me that I rarely get to wear my Tuxedo anymore. Ties? They are gone.
    Most of the young people now don’t even know how to tie a tie, and forget any of them knowing how to tie a bow tie. On those occasions when I wear a bow tie, people look at me like I have two heads.
    I showed up to a recent job interview with a three piece suit, cuff links, and a conventional tie. I was told that I was the only person who wore a suit to the interview.
    We have become a society of boorish, classless idiots without a sense of taste or refinement. It’s like going to dinner with a room filled by Rodney Dangerfield’s character from Caddyshack.

  11. Don’t even get me started about men and boys leaving their shirt tails out.

    It’s so incredibly ill-mannered and terrible looking that I can’t stand it.

    1. “…boys leaving their shirt tails out.”

      HA! Hadn’t thought of that in years.
      Back in the 60’s, early 70’s, Florida schools had dress codes and boys were required to wear long pants (no jeans) and button down shirts (with tails), and as acts of defiance as soon as school was out at 3pm the first thing we did was pull the shirt tails out for the walk home.

  12. I eventually gave up on ties because I simply can’t afford the shirts. I have a 19-20’’ neck, but the 4x shirts I could buy that fit that flap on me like a spinnaker sail in a dead calm. Still, I used to wear ties or bow ties. Once silenced a Sophomore Feminist who was ranting about high heels being ‘symbolic hobbles’ by observing ‘what are YOU whining about? When I dress up, I’m supposed to wear a symbolic leash!’

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