Monday, June 5, 2017

Why The Tie Needs to Die

Yesterday at church, while daydreaming, fidgeting, doodling, and bothering D, I looked down the aisle at every man (including my sleeping father) and looked at all their ties. Some featuring colorful prints, while others just simple, plain, and solid. Every man had one. I looked at the mother of a rambunctious toddler in the row in front of me as she held a tiny, forest green, clip-on tie. I leaned over and whispered, "D, why in the world is a one-year-old wearing a tie?!" Being the social norm hater that I am (thank you Sociology degree... I guess you were good for one thing), I began to heavily dwell on the fact that ties are the silliest "required" accessory of all.    

Me: D, why do you wear a tie?
D: I don't know.
Me: Why do I (and every other woman here) not wear a tie?
D: Not sure. 
Me: What purpose does it serve? Does it hold your shirt-top shut? Does it keep your head on straight?
D: I don't know.
Me: Do you like wearing one?
D: Not really.
Me: What's the history behind a tie?
D: Not sure. 
Me: Then why do you do it?
D: I guess I'm supposed to. 

I asked that same question to my dad. Our conversation mirrored that of mine and D's.

I called my classy, stylish, extremely social, intelligent, and kind older brother to get some more insight. He knows everything, so here is a pretty close summary of his reasoning.

Me: Why do you wear a tie? 
R: It's traditional and accepted. It's been the hallmark of a dressy outfit for years. It's just traditional. I have a lot of ties, and many that I really like so it gets me excited to wear ties. But it's a tough question. I guess I got used to wearing ties from my mission when I wore one every day for two years. Ties are not uncomfortable or comfortable. They are just there.

Me: Okay, so again, why do you wear one? 
R: I guess to signify to other people that you are taking an occasion seriously (church, a wedding, an interview, etc). You are showing others you appreciate the value of the event.  

"but WHY +  HOW?!" I thought. How can a strip of functionally purposeless fabric show you care?

Moving on...

Me: Could you look equally nice and respectful without one?
R: Sure, but I wouldn't want to walk into a job interview in a button-up sans tie whilst the nine other guys in the room are wearing ties. I wouldn't want to be the odd one out, looking too casual, or like I don't care as much. If you don't wear a tie, then you usually unbutton the top of your shirt, and when you do that, it gets really casual. 

Me: Would you be okay with not wearing a tie anymore?
R: Absolutely, but it would have to be large-scale movement for me to be okay with it. Not just me on my own. It stinks, and I totally get what you mean, but thats how it is. 

My brother made some good points while still acknowledging the fact that ties really serve no logical purpose. 

Look, ties don't look bad and I don't hate ties. I love when men are dressed their nicest and I especially love bow-ties. However, I hate seeing things done in society with no clear reason behind them. I considered researching and adding a short history of the tie for this post. I am sure there is a history to the reason behind a tie, but how is it relevant now? And since we don't already know the history behind it, then why do we do it? "We do it because we have always done it," and, "everyone else is does it," is not an acceptable answer. These kind of societal aspects and answers bother me. Tell me what part of the history of a tie makes it significant and necessary today, and I promise I will respect it. Tell me how and why that pencil-shaped fabric makes an outfit more formal. Sure, I am guilty of conforming to norms, but right now, I am just talking about the strip of fabric men are obligated to tie around their necks for certain events. 

If you still aren't following, let's break it down. What is a tie? Ties are a strip of somewhat-stiff, sometimes-silky fabric with a point at the end. They vary in width based on current trends. There are a couple super-complicated ways to tie one around your neck, "He can't even tie a tie?! What a loser!" If it is too long or too short, you will be judged. You may even loose out on a job-offer, so be careful. Ties come in an array of colors and patterns. Some specifically-colored ties are okay for some events, but not others. "I can't believe Bush/Trump/Obama/Whoever wore a RED tie to *insert event.* How classless!" Some ties have stupid pictures or prints. Some of these skinny fabric strips cost more than four months rent while others are under $5. See this designer ridiculousness HERE (an extreme example, but still). 

Let's discuss a ties functional, non-cultural purpose: They add a decorative pop of color which can increase individualism within cookie-cutter menswear. I think that is it, and it isn't a bad thing. The problem is that they are culturally-required accessories, in most cases. "But women wear jewelry and other accessories to serve the same purpose." Yes, but they are optional.    

It is important to question the little things we do every day. Next time you are at church, or waiting in line with the business men at the Tyson's Corner Cava during lunch hour, look at their outfits, or should I call them uniforms? Why do they all have to wear the same basic outfit plus tie, in general? Menswear needs a desperate update to break from traditional norms that we don't even understand the history or reasoning behind in the first place. Perhaps if enough people start asking these questions, we can do-away with things in society that serve no real purpose and are a waste of time, energy, money, and analyzation.  


  1. I really don't know any men who love ties. My husband says he has to tie it loose or it gives him a headache. From a historical perspective, the straight tie is so much better than the frilly, giant neck bow. From an artistic perspective, it adds variation, color and design to mens limited choices for attire. It also helps round men look leaner and short men look taller. For men with really hairy necks, I appreciate a tie. I guess it's like a ribbon on a package - ties it all together - no pun intended. But I agree with you, why is it necessary? Most men would rather do without.

  2. Ties are a way for men to accessorize. It brings color into their wardrobe. :) Momma T <3