It’s just a sliver of cloth that sits around the neck and rests on the chest. Yet it says so much, and stirs passion and resentment in equal measure.
A tie symbolizes all sorts of things. There are all the obvious signals; the stripes of an exclusive school, university, club or military regiment but there are all the more subtle messages a tie sends out.
Here we look at some of the things your tie might say about you.
You can trust me
Politicians prefer self-coloured, serious ties with no fripperies; perhaps a stripe; sometimes a small dot. And when re-election beckons a tie convergent with your own political hue. Except in the case of the newly formed coalition when green seemed to be the rage.
It’s important that the knot is conformist – see issues with Windsor knot and Ascots – there are one or two notable exceptions such as Winston Churchill and Abe Lincoln.
You can trust me and I’m one of you
Tony Blair is responsible for many things and one of them is the casual tie-less, I’m-just-a-bloke-like-you public appearance. Since then his new-casual look has been deployed to political effect by Obama, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Milliband et al.
You can’t trust me and I’m not one of you
In the fifties Teddy Boys vocalized their brand of edgy cool by wearing bootlace ties. Mods embraced Italian style, sharp tailoring and skinny ties. And during the 70’s when punk raged ties were still skinny but they sat around the neck, inside the collar, or were ripped to shreds, or stuck together with safety pins.
There are just too many expressive possibilities inherent in the tie for rebels to give them up.
I’m a cad
The Windsor Knot
In From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming famously declared;
“Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”
The Windsor knot is attributed to the Duke of Windsor who favoured a wide knot and had his ties stiffened to create a thicker cloth and wider knot. The knot involves multiple rotations that form a wide, balanced knot especially suited to spread or cutaway collars.
It’s a stylish, suave look that’s worked well for baddies. Danish actor and former Bond Baddie, Mads Mikkelsen, above, as Dr Hannibal Lecter in the NBC series is the personification of gorgeously attired evil incarnate.
I am a cad #2
Al Pacino as The Godfather – say no more!
I am really funny. Seriously, I am!
Anyone in a novelty tie of any sort is not as funny as they think they are. There are exceptions to all rules, with the exception of this one.
To some extent we’ve all been there. As Harry Potter sits squirming beneath the Sorting Hat, waiting to discover his fate – will it be Gryffindor; goodness, enlightenment and truth, or Slytherin; darkness, deceit and distortion – we all know how he feels. We all recognise the awful moment before acceptance comes. And the ‘Old School Tie’ is the expression of pride and relief that we’ve been accepted into an institution whose values we uphold.
I’m in charge
Margaret Thatcher in Spitting Image
A lot of men say they don’t feel the part unless they wear a tie. That in a work context a tie is critical to their professional image, it helps convey authority and efficiency. No one expresses this manly sentiment better than Margaret Thatcher – in Spitting Image.
I hate wearing a tie
Martin Freeman as ‘Tim’ from The Office
Famous Tim quote:
“It’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb, than half way up one you don’t”
Tim really hates wearing his tie. His tie is the shackle that binds him to the office he despises, a constant reminder of his underachievement. Everything about it says, I’m only wearing this because I absolutely have to. It’s black – colour would be pushing it – and the top button remains defiantly undone at all times.
So, you see, whether you love ties, or hate them, it’s an uncontestable truth that a tie is the ultimate form of male self-expression.
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