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.