More On Less Ties

Charlottesville’s comment got lost in the shuffle somehow but it started me thinking so I asked for a redo. First, the comment:

“Sorry to be so late to the party, but I must join in. Ties are a subject close to my heart; in fact, on most days, literally just an inch or two away. I tend to wear a tie, along with suit, blazer or sport coat, five or six days a week (sometimes 7), between office, church and the occasional visit to a restaurant. My barber and doctor have both noted that I am their only customer/patient regularly so clad.

When asked, “Why are you so dressed up?”, I usually say something like, “Because I was coming to see you.” And that is true, to a large degree, but frankly, I wear a tie, for the same reason I wear suits, blazers, sport coats, pressed cotton shirts, and “real” shoes (i.e., leather-soled, as well as topped). I like the way they look and feel. It shows respect for others and for one’s self, and it also looks approximately 14,000 times better than sweats, sneakers, zipped fleece vests, baggy shorts, and whatever else has captured the sartorial spirit of the age. But to each his or her own.

This past week, all of the remote workers from my office joined the usual skeleton crew (including the undersigned) for a slew of meetings and, with one exception, I was the only one out of 70+ to don a tie on any of the five days. However, to be painfully honest, I wore jeans with topsiders, OCBD and a blazer on two days. Those who have known me for the past decade or two commented on my informality, and I told them them that I decided to wear “dungaree trousers” to fit in with the 20 somethings, but noted that they were “vintage,” in that I had bought them new roughly 35 years ago.”

Now the thinking: this is exactly how Ivy should progress. Move with the times, and resist the times concurrently. Your dress should stand out, but you should also remain culturally relevant. Perfect pitch here.

20 Comments on "More On Less Ties"

  1. John
    I am 79 years old and when I travel I always wear a tie (bow or straight) . The flight attendances always complement me on how nicely dressed I’am and I will tell you at the ticket counters and on the plane I always get great service. At meetings and zoom calls I wear a tie and at church every Sunday I wear a tie. I think a suit without a tie looks like an un made bed. A tie sets you apart from the crowd today and” if you have them wear them” Charlie Davidson would say

  2. For Bible Study this morning: O’Connell’s Poplin trousers in Oyster, vintage brown wingtips and brown leather dress belt, brown OTC dress socks, BB blue U-striped OCBD, vintage BB olive with gold and burgundy striped and crested heraldic club tie marked IRREGULAR, entry level Turn O Graph Oyster. All very comfortable. I think C-ville would approve.

    Too hot here already for a blazer, especially with the casual setting. I need a new blazer anyhow. A hot-weather, low button-stance, soft-shoulder sack would be great.

    • Charlottesville | May 21, 2024 at 6:32 pm |

      Charlottesville does indeed approve, Bopper. I find that air conditioning generally makes a coat and tie comfortable, except when walking from the car to the office, when a coat is best slung over the shoulder. But if one is outdoors a lot, especially in Texas, Arizona or other hot spots, it would be too much.

      I have a tropical-weight sack blazer that I bought at J. Press in Washington at least 15 years ago, and it carries me through the warmer months, although seersucker is even lighter. I think my lightest weight sport coat is a blue chambray, also from Press from roughly the same era, and it looks like it is still available from their current inventory. As for times when a tie is inappropriate for some reason (e,g, a “casual Friday” meeting or lunch) for “dungaree trousers,” I switch to white 501s, usually with a seersucker sport coat or the navy blazer and a button down and boat shoes.

  3. We’ll I’m trad (collegiate) and later in life I just reverted back to my college days uniform. Khakis, OCBD (starched) open collar, ribbon belts and topsiders. I’m still looking fresh not a slobbering idiot.
    And I feel comfortable in all my environments.
    You might say I just went backwards in my style. But same clothes I’ve always had.
    I don’t feel compled to wear a tie even with a blazer.
    I might be more preppy now than before in my life.
    I like the look. I feel comfortable in the look and I can fly, make sales calls just like before.
    I’d say I dress to please myself not others. But in fashionable way. Not sure if there is a name for “Old Man Prep”, but I’m it.

  4. Future Fogey | May 21, 2024 at 5:11 pm |

    Can someone educate me on what this general thread is addressing? Are tie and blazer clad people running through the streets screaming at the tieless, browbeating them into submission? Wear a tie, don’t wear a tie, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve got a closet full of ties and don’t wear them frequently.

    However, Ivy Style is a real thing that actually happened. It is a defined style and a tie is a crucial element of that style. You can either dress “Ivy” or not. Inclusion has nothing to do with it. If an invitation to a wedding says black tie and you show up in a dinner jacket with trousers, patent leather shoes, and no tie, guess what? You aren’t in black tie! And you aren’t being excluded! You chose to do something different.

    If the point is that ties aren’t required for “small c” conservative dress, classic American style, or Ivy inspired attire then so be it. But the hand wringing here seems so unnecessary. To really torture a metaphor, it’s like showing up to a classic car show with your 2024 Corvette and claiming that you’re being excluded. It’s inspired by the thing but it isn’t THE THING.

    Looking forward to being set straight. Cheers all.

  5. I’m a little unclear about what this post is meant to be addressing as well, Future Fogey. Are people being forced to remove their ties? I don’t think so. To put it another way, not everything is an “issue.” Wear what you want. No one”s saying you can’t wear a tie! If you’re upset that society no longer requires people to wear them, that might be a “you” issue.

    • Except things don’t quite work that way. Far too many people give in to pressure — where that pressure comes from is a very long discussion. In any event, people give in and nowadays people show up in court, at church, at a nicer restaurant in sweatpants and a t-shirt, because they’ve given in. Sartorial requirements of yesteryear were not some scary, thunderbolt out of the sky from some angry deity… but rather society understanding as a whole, that we all need a nudge to comport ourselves better.

      • Claude D. | May 30, 2024 at 7:56 pm |

        Right, except “society” has largely decide that ties are no longer required most of the time. Time marches on.

  6. Wear a tie or don’t wear a tie. WGAF?

  7. Charlottesville | May 22, 2024 at 11:53 am |

    I am not sure why, but it seems that some readers may have been offended by the above post, which was initially just a comment to the previous post on tielessness. John thought it worth putting up as a stand-alone, and bookended it with his comments. I just re-read it and detected neither screaming nor browbeating. Rather, I intended it as something like a wistful sigh about the passing of what I think is a nice look, and since the site is called Ivy Style, lamenting its passing here does not seem out of place.

    Wear a tie or not, of course, as you prefer. I tend to dress in the Ivy style, and have for a good many years, but I don’t expect others to follow suit (bad pun), and I myself do not always stay in the Ivy lane. Today, in the office, I’m in a 3/2 sack suit, OCBD and repp stripe bow tie, all from Brooks of happier days, but I am quite likely to be tieless over the Memorial Day weekend, possibly even in jeans.

    I quite agree with Future Fogey, that Ivy is its own, fairly well-defined thing, a thing that I enjoy very much. And I also think that the Ivy influence, can be a positive contribution, even if the “evolved” version may no longer be quite Ivy. An example is 1980s and 90s Polo, which borrowed from heyday Brooks Brothers, 1930s Apparel Arts and Esquire illustrations, and classic Savile Row tailoring, as well as other influences. Ivy? Probably not most of it, but some pretty nice clothing nevertheless. Sid Mashburn is probably another good example of Ivy influencing a designer’s work. And J. Press, my current source when I need a new shirt, suit or whatever, still sells very classic Ivy clothing, while playing around a bit with the Pennant label.

    At any rate, I wish a very happy Memorial Day weekend to all, however you may decide to dress. And what could be more Ivy than khaki shorts, a polo shirt, and boat shoes, which I must admit would look quite odd with a tie.

  8. Charlottesville’s testimony, no doubt accurate and precise, calls to mind the now decades-old observation, certainly anecdotal yet assuredly spot on, offered by the late, great Digby Baltzell, unofficial sociologist of the Protestant upper classes of America. Offering a bit of a proviso to his excellent book about “Puritan Boston” and “Quaker Philadelphia,” he astutely noted an inherent formalism among the patricians and professionals who resided in these two (culturally similar) cities. Lest we forget, the earliest generations of Quakers (Friends) descended from English Puritans and borrowed generously from the aesthetic sensibilities that inspired everything from stone houses to “plain dress,” which was far from drab. Rejecting the vulgarities of flowery, effete High Church excesses while simultaneously eschewing the lackluster, they creatively incorporated color and elegance into their architecture, wardrobes, poetry and prose, and art, prioritizing honor and dignity.

    For all the talk about Southern traditions, the South, like the Midwest, has nurtured a breezy, sometimes flippant permissiveness about the formalities that we (correctly) affiliate with urban cultures in the Northeast. In my neck of the woods, attorneys at even the smaller, middling firms have returned to the consistently wearing of jackets and ties. Ditto for doctors, corporate execs, and Mainline clergy. I am not surprised to learn (from my pals in Nashville, Charlotte, and Atlanta) that the typically Southern tendency toward nonchalance has (negatively, I’ll suggest) inspired the depreciation of rites and rituals galore, including but not limited to professional dress. I’ve always been suspicious of the Southern Agrarian claims that their culture is (has always been?) more traditional and tradition-bound, and the smiling, eager rebuffs of formality, so heavily influenced by rural proclivities, affirm this.

    I feel sure that one consideration, if not deciding factor, is the weather — the balmy and here-and-there sizzling climate. (August in Alabama — whoa.) But, beyond the heat and tyrannical humidity, there’s that famously relaxed, informal attitude for which Southerners are known. Which is to say: I’m not surprised C-Ville was the only one among 70+ to bother with a necktie. Plainly stated: summertime temperatures in Dixie are not conducive to “dressing up.”

    • Charlottesville | May 30, 2024 at 9:14 pm |

      Good to hear from you, as always, S.E. I have to say that the temps in Charlottesville were in the 70s and occasional 80-ish that week. so the thermometer alone does not explain the dress code. It was only 75 today, although it hit 90+ a few days ago. I am sorry for gloating, and I know that the humid upper 90s (and possibly higher) are just around the corner. I most assuredly urge you to loosen or discard the tie in the summer heat

      However, just for the sake of argument (and my natural contrariness), I note that in the film version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus asked permission to remove his coat in the sweltering courtroom, but he kept his tie on. Sometimes decorum may merit just a touch of discomfort.

  9. MacMcConnell | May 22, 2024 at 6:37 pm |

    One doesn’t get Ivy converts by going native, “The Heart of Darkness”. You convert by setting an example.

  10. Neckties have never, as far as I can recall, been “cool.” People have largely only worn ties because they’ve had to for decades now. Not surprising that people give them up once they are no longer “required.” I like wearing a tie on occasion but it’s time to get real and accept that for most people they have always been seen as an obligation. No surprise they have fallen out of favor.

  11. Tim Irvine | May 23, 2024 at 8:02 am |

    “Old man prep”…I like it. The other day I wore white 501s (with blue OCBD, NBB, red and white bowtie, and LHS). It is impossible to wear 501s without thinking back to my days as a prep when guys tried to get away with violating the dress code by wearing them. Now 75, I enjoy being able to afford a better wardrobe than I could when in school, but I still feel that imaginary gaze that dissects what I am wearing, looking for shortcomings like the wrong socks or shoes, the wrong anything, or the unfortunate color choices. School is not a bunch of happy memories, but I did and still do love the clothes. I grew up in a USN household and moved a lot. I hope someone enjoyed the box of ties that I lost in a move. I still waste too much timing looking at eBay and Etsy for old ties from Saltz, Georgetown University Shop, Rogers Peet, and Adler. My regular store was Roberts Ltd. In Alexandria, now totally buried by the sands of time. Those round tables with a rainbow circle of ties were truly among life’s greatest shopping pleasures. Remember those tables? I think Eljo’s may still have one.

    • Charlottesville | May 30, 2024 at 9:20 pm |

      Excellent stores Mr, Irvine, and I wonder if we did not tread similar paths in the late 1980s and 90s, although I am a few years behind. I recall the round tie tables fondly, and you are correct that Eljo’s still has some lovely ties on offer.

  12. whiskeydent | May 23, 2024 at 10:55 am |

    The weatherman says the high temperature in Austin today (May 23) through Monday will be 95, 95, 99, 99 and 98. Rest assured, I will not wear a tie any of those days and likely will avoid them throughout our 18 months of summer.

  13. A phrase I often say when asked why I am dressed up, and just wearing a tie is considered dressed up, I am wearing this for me, not you. Because at the end of the day, why else would you wear anything?

  14. Agent Ivy | May 28, 2024 at 12:50 pm |

    Let me just preface this by saying that I don’t often agree with Tucker, but I do find his perspectives occasionally interesting. I came across a video of his on YouTube a few days ago, where he talked about the rich and powerful dressing down.

    His belief is that the suit and tie was the uniform of the leadership class – rich, powerful people from elite schools – and with that class distinction came the obligation of service and benevolence both in the government and in the private sector. He thinks that the casualization of the attire of the ruling class now is a not so subtle signal that they believe they no long longer have an obligation of service. “Hey, we’re just like you! So we don’t really owe you anything…because we ARE you!”

    Full clip here:

    Again: NOT an endorsement of his politics. But an interesting perspective on clothing and what it means.

  15. I like wearing a tie everyone now and again but I don’t like standing out, which has become increasingly a challenge. Part of Ivy Style appeal for me has always been that it was a little less “dressy” than wearing a suit but those distinctions are mostly gone. I just don’t care to have people turn their heads at the “dressed up” guy. So I don’t wear them as much anymore but sometimes it is a fool’s errand to cling to the good old days.

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