The Tie Is Dead, Long Live The Tie

Reports of the tie’s death have been greatly exaggerated. While sales have dwindled, properly deployed neckwear remains one of the most potent means of self-expression at a man’s disposal.

There was a time, when virtually all men — from coal miner to chief executive officer — strapped on a tie before heading to work. In recent times, even in formerly ultra-formal businesses like banking, more and more men are dispensing with the tie. And this was before Covid-19 gripped the earth and left the majority of city offices lying desolate. Whether simply wearing a suit or blazer sans neckwear, switching to polo’n’khakis business casual, or going fully dégagé in Silicon Valley sweats, for many, the tie has become as useful as the proverbial motorcycle-mounted ashtray.

Menswear author Christian Chensvold has long simultaneously heralded and mourned the tie’s slow and painful death. In 2019 he published a short book, These Are Our Failures, that charts the experiences of a journalist on assignment for a “slick sartorial bible from Singapore” (hmm, sounds familiar), investigating the demise of the necktie as it dovetails with the fall of civilization and subsequent apocalypse.

One of Chensvold’s nattily-attired fictional characters, a menswear obsessive going by the StyleForum handle Scary_Grant, rants that the trend toward eschewing ties has “reached the irreversible”, indicating that dressiness in general is on its last legs.

“If ‘dressing up’ were a person,” he suggests, “it would not be a boulevardier fawned over by the society pages. It would be an old man in a nursing home, sporting a boutonniere that foreshadows the flowers at his own coming funeral.” Ties, Scary_Grant opines, have literally tied everything together, menswear-wise, for more than 200 years. “The very concept of what it means to be well dressed falls apart without the necktie.”

Published

January 2021

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