What is the point of a tie? The tie seems like a dying fashion item among men. What was once a necessary accessory and an emblem of masculinity now looks like a side-lined garment, hanging down limp and lifeless.

This apparent abandonment isn’t exactly based on false pretences. Gone are the days when three-piece suits were required for any occasion demanding the slightest formality – going to church, buying a Sunday paper, having an affair in a motel. Gone too are the days when anybody in the public eye had to wear a tie as a mark of “respect” to their audience. Maybe something to be grateful for?

The simple old necktie we wear now came from its formal stance before the 1960s’, the decade when the establishment and business world’s tie-wearing monopoly was hijacked by the mods – working-class fashionista upstarts head-to-toe in slick Italian tailoring. The tie wasn’t there to bind you to formality anymore.

For some occasions, the tie is still a necessity. You would not dream of turning up to a funeral without one. Weddings give you ample opportunity to break out your tackiest neck-gear. And what would Christmas be without the novelty tie? I get no greater sense of satisfaction than being treated to a polyphonic rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’.

But a growing part of society saw the tie as a burden of the past, something restricted to older men and the Establishment. The tie began to lose influence and, even in national media, it was dropped completely to appear more open, trendy, cutting edge. Look at our current Prime Minister – Cameron started the top button undone, no tie, ‘prepared’ approach now accepted by many politicians.

It has its risks too, beyond being compared to Dave. Tom Tron (@LadytronFashion) has built up a cult Twitter following through his satirical, often surreal tweets about the customers in his Ladytron Ladieswear shop in Saffron Walden.

“I run a ladies clothing shop, so I don’t really sell many ties,” says Tom. “But that doesn’t mean I cannot have an opinion, right?”

Tom never wears ties. But that’s not because he thinks they’re out-dated or fusty.

“Here's a little cautionary tale about the tie. I remember my Dad once had a kipper tie. He dipped it into some custard once eating his Sunday lunch.

“So, out of a false sense of loyalty, I have never worn a tie since father's unfortunate custard experience. Sorry.”

Maybe the tie has had its time in 2012?

“Personally, I try to avoid them, mainly because I can't tie a knot to save my life,” says Hasting-based fashion expert, Michael Courts.

“Like all accessories, their popularity depends on trends in other items of clothing. For example, when GQ singlehandedly bought back the three-piece suit a couple of years ago, ties came back. This really gave a rebirth to ‘power dressing’, formalwear acceptable as informal wear.

“There are trends within ties - for example knots, pattern and design and accessories such as pins and so on. High street brands have introduced ties into casual wear, although they have varied the style toward more 'skinny designs'.”

“Wearing one feels like playing dress-up,” says Esquire writer Mike Albo. “I might as well be putting on a Luke Skywalker outfit and going to Comic-Con. Except, a tie is the opposite: it makes me feel like I have to behave, like I need to pretend I am serious and fiscally conservative and have a hard time showing my emotions, or that I am incredibly hip and make Spotify playlists while working on my second screenplay.”

This could well be all in his head. The billions of businessmen who stroll the world each day don’t fall into Albo’s categories. But even Mike admits, whatever the reasoning for a tie, it always demands more respect.

“Maybe if I can play into corporate-professional dress-up, things will come easier. I will walk down the street, and I will have on my tweed jacket, and cardboard-stiff jeans, and a tie, and people will respect me more.”

It is strange to think that one small fabric strip can make all the difference to your appearance, even how people perceive you. But if it does, maybe there’s still something left for the tie.
From Establishment neck-symbol to mod revolt and back again. If fashion is a circle, who’s to say it won’t come back in 2012 and beyond?

by Ashley Scrace

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