The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How About Casual Neckties?

 A selection of my own more casual (and warm weather) neckties in wool, silk, cotton, and wool-silk blends.

The old necktie gets a bad rap these days.  Especially during the warmer months of the year.  And lots of guys moan about them being unnecessary and uncomfortable.  But hold on a second.  Let's consider the issue more closely for a moment.

First of all, look around you.  What do you notice?  Yep.  In many, many instances, the leaders  -- the decision makers, the ones calling the shots, the higher-ups, the muckety mucks --  within the educated white collar world still wear neckties with their suits, or blazers and sports jackets for those less formal days/events.   Let's just not talk about those high-profile terminal adolescents like Mark Zuckerburg and Richard Branson, or the more sloppy male academics, all of whom who eschew normal educated professional attire.  

Let's also ignore some of our male political leaders and hopefuls here in the United States, who now and then attempt to come across as "of the people" by appearing without neckties and in shirtsleeves.  That's a strange bit of political campaign artifice whose perceived appeal, while I understand the misguided rationale behind it, I'll never really grasp.  It's certainly not a move that resonates with me. 

In any case, emulating the better dressed professional and social leaders as well as practicing (at least some of) their clothing habits is not a bad thing.  Dressing well for public consumption -- and yes, that includes your family at home too -- should be encouraged as far as I am concerned.  Neckties are a part of that, men.  Upward mobility, aspiration, and improving oneself in all areas of life, including attire, are just fine.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  It's high time we stop making excuses about the imagined benefits of schlepping through life in over-sized t-shirts, bagged out sweatpants, and ratty cargo shorts.  Dressing nicely and feeling good about it isn't something to fear.  Neither should we feel the need to apologize for it. 

Fine.  But what about the complaint that neckties are uncomfortable?  Not true.  If you are doing things right, ties are anything but.  

To begin with, make certain that the neck measurement of your shirt is correct, so when the top button of your shirt is fastened at the collar, you don't feel like your head will explode.  Second, don't cinch your necktie as tightly as it will go around your neck.  Sure, the knot needs to be drawn up far enough to your neck, so there is no discernible gap between it and your buttoned shirt collar.  But it's not a hangman's noose either.  Make sure the knot is where is should be without tightening it so much that the blood supply to your head is cut off.  Remember to check your tie occasionally in the men's room mirror, straighten it, and adjust the knot if needed during the day or evening though.

An added plus of neckties, which many tend to forget, is that they are an accessory that enables you to impart a bit more personality to your attire.  So, you won't quite resemble all of those other men in suits or sports jacket and odd pants combos if that is a concern.  One caveat though, and I've talked at length about this before here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style, absolutely no cartoon character or other types of novelty ties, ok Sylvester?  I actually witnessed this in a corporate setting once, and it instantly set the guy apart from the rest of us men in the room.  And not in a good way either.  Clothing and accessories signal a great deal about a person to others, like it or not. 

Finally, try some more casual necktie styles like the kind shown above if you are worried about feeling too stiff or formal.  This approach works especially well for the summer months, weekends, and more relaxed, less formal events.  The Italians, for instance, are masters at producing delightfully floppy, breezy, and comfortable ties that work well for this kind of thing.  Authentic cotton Madras neckties from India are also ideal for the warmer months, especially with a navy blazer and khaki pants.  

So, for average guys working to kick up their every day style several notches, try wearing neckties more often. . .  and during the summer months too.  And who knows?  Contrary to what you've always thought, you might actually find that you enjoy wearing them.  And that ain't necessarily a bad thing.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


guy said...

Co-incidentally yesterday in the UK Telegraph newspaper there was an article about the dying out of ties in the office setting. I should right at the start nail my colours to the mast by saying that I wear a tie every day to work and all of the other men do. No dress down Fridays permitted here!

However what the article was saying was that increasingly there are whole swathes of workers who do not wear ties and in fact it is seen as distinctly odd to actually wear one - the computer and web industries, advertising etc. The premise is that only underlings and definitely not the bosses wear them and they suggested menial people in the service industries wear ties eg waiters etc. Pretty insulting I thought!

Also in the article it referred to a comment made by the Duke of Edinburgh at one of the Queen's summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace. A master of the universe who had been invited was put in his place by HRH who said he was incorrectly dressed as he had come without a tie.

I myself have perhaps 100 odd ties. My current favourites are Italian hand knitted silk ties with the square ends. My wife accuses me of looking like a school boy in them but it is my own small attempt to emulate the v cool Italians you see!


PS Definitely no character ties. That is worthy of summary execution.

BlueTrain said...

I've always enjoyed wearing neckties and my favorites have always been relatively narrow woolen ties, especially tartans. They seem to be easier to tie and I will admit, they do take some effort to achieve a good knot. Alone among all the men here, my boss wears a tie and suit every day. I at least usually wear a tie, sometimes a suit.

It is said that while a "power suit" is still in favor in such places as Iran by the movers and shakers, neckties are not worn because they suggest Western decadence or something like that. However, I was also surprised and somewhat disappointed by not seeing very many men wearing neckties. So I will vouch for the accuracy of that statement above. One of my neighbors when I was little, in the 1950s, wore a tie to work every day and he was a mason.