The Up Side of Fewer Ties.

I know. I was groaning too, for a year. We get Ivy back on its feet and the first thing it does is take off its tie. Probably the dominant trait of Ivy since its inception, too, don’t you think? And that, of course, brought forth handwringing, I suspect the same hands that prematurely declared the death of Ivy, the same hands that white knuckled the collabs.

There are, without question, fewer ties on the street. And the Ivy family had an understandable reaction to that. INSECURITY. But what if fewer ties is a good thing?

For the style to survive, it had to become more inclusive. That was my mission when I got here. To make Ivy accessible, inclusive. The Classics Are For Everyone. And we have done that. Editorially, we have posted and vetted to create an inclusive community where people of all ages can enjoy Ivy. Community building – over 1/3 of the postings/comments on the Facebook group are now women (ADVERTISERS SHOULD BE JUMPING ON THAT). And I think, in retrospect, the tie was the biggest hurdle.

Don’t comment yet. Let your breath out slowly. I love ties. I still think the tie is the best way for a person to spend $70 and up their look $700. And ties are not dying any time soon. John Wick wears a tie, and he will never die. I still wear a tie.

But the tie was pretty much the backslash in Ivy/non Ivy.

What if the reduction of the importance of the tie does two things concurrently? What if fewer ties inflate the importance of when you do wear one? You wear a tie to work everyday and who thinks it is a big deal when you wear a tie to take your spouse out to dinner? Nobody. You wear a tie thrice a month and when you knot up for dinner, NOW you are saying something.

PS – this means, of course, we still need ties.

What if fewer ties means that our emphasis has shifted a little more towards substance over form? There are industries, careers, where not wearing a tie means I’m-so-good-I-don’t-have-to. What if fewer ties is the great equalizer?

I think so.

But this leaves us with a question. I am not sure we will ever, absent a trend which is always possible, return to the days of 5 ties a week. If the tie was the thing? What is the next thing? To regular people (not enthusiasts like you, I mean regular people) when you wore a tie, even if Jerry Garcia designed it, you were at minimum preppy. If ties were the bellwether of Ivy (that is a cooler clause than you know – bellwether is literally the lead sheep of the flock, recognized as such by a bell around its neck), what is the next bellwether?

Wednesday you get my answer, looking forward to yours in the comments.

JB

31 Comments on "The Up Side of Fewer Ties."

  1. In my social milieu, ties are associated with waiters and criminals and others wearing them out of obligation in a situation they very well might not want to be in. Or they are associated with slick businessmen types but it’s the guy trying to sell you a cell phone rather than someone helping you refinance your mortgage. Not really the right vibe these days at all.

    • Barry, your response is saddening and your stereotypes deserve a response from Michael similar to what he wrote back to SE.

      Generalizing and labeling in the condescending and negative trope manner you put forth tells those of us who choose to have a style and approach to their working and personal attire that is above basic that you sir should be considered suspect.

      May you continue to find solice in your narrow vibe. All the best in that small sliver of life.

    • John Burton | May 16, 2024 at 3:05 pm | Reply

      So you are profiling people with ties. That’s, um, not the point.

  2. So many ties are rather cheaply made while at the same time so overpriced, and either too wide or too narrow, difficult to tie elegantly, and just downright ugly. I haven’t purchased a necktie in several years, and even then I tended toward vintage.

    We live in an era of poor taste. In fact, we crave things of poor taste so desperately that we will import them. I knot up whenever given an opportunity to do so. I think I can add two weekly events to my tie wearing protocol if I keep it simple by wearing the Ivy uniform: khakis, loafers, OCBD, knit tie, blazer/odd jacket.

    Uniformity has its advantages.

  3. Michael Powell | May 13, 2024 at 9:37 pm | Reply

    We wore ties every day at an all-boys Catholic high school. I wore ties to work every day for 11 years. Then for the next 33 years, I wore ties for funerals and weddings. I bought my last tie last year; I have yet to wear it anywhere. All tied up, and nowhere to go.

  4. Natural Shouder | May 13, 2024 at 10:49 pm | Reply

    I still wear a tie most days in office and to church on Sunday. I realize I am a shrinking minority of men who choose to don a tie and will, oftentimes, be the only one who does so in meeting. Long live the tie.

  5. I have always liked and enjoyed wearing neckties (currently about 100 in the rotation), and being presentably dressed in general. A trait I picked up from my maternal grandfather, father, and most of the men in the extended family. These men wore such items five, and sometimes six, days a week (Sundays).

    I cannot ever recall hearing any male in the family above the age of 11 or 12 complain about it, or grouse about having to “dress up.” Oh, the sheer horror of having to look like an educated professional!

    More specific to the necktie in my adult life now, some male members of our university administration still wear them daily, although poorly knotted in some cases. At the college and program/department levels, however, I am often the only man wearing a tie and suit or blazer-sports jacket-odd pants combination (with leather dress shoes) these days. Most others, at best, appear as though preparing to mow the lawn, rake leaves, clean out the garage, or change the oil in the car on a Saturday afternoon.

    Two weeks ago, during a job talk by the only candidate to don a suit and necktie for the occasion (Bless him!), one of the male chairs showed up, with at least a five-day growth, wearing grubby shorts, a hooded sweatshirt, and sneakers. Were that not enough, his ample hairy belly protruded visibly from beneath said hoody for all the world to see. It boggles the mind.

    Size and fit indeed. I’ll stick to my ties, jackets/occasional suits, and risk looking like a Hollywood Video manager, thank you very much.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

  6. I still wear bowties fairly often and a four-in-hand now and then. Despite living in Austin, a very youthful and casual city, I often get compliments from young and old, male and female. It has also helped me to identify which of my friends like ties.

  7. All of the legit professionals in my neck of the woods wear suits and (tasteful) neckties. Smart decision. Doctors, lawyers, clergy, executives galore, college deans (yep, especially business and law schools). And so on.

    The assumed (and, weirdly, hoped for) decline of necktie-wearing isn’t confirmation of demise. Hardly. Take a closer look. It amounts to more of a narrowing. Nothing new, since the evolution of this culling extends back many decades.

    I’ll venture a guess that half of the ties sold & worn during the 20th century (especially 70s, 80s, and 90s) were hideous. No surprise that most of the wearers were forgettable people who didn’t/won’t leave a lasting mark on the world in any significant way.

    It’s probably true that ‘Traditionalists’ (found in both major political parties and many walks of life) are few and far between (rare) in this awful and declining culture. Many are drawn to the totems of this old-fashioned, old school vibe, established and nurtured by the likes of Burke’s ideological offspring. (Insert Roger Scruton quote). Plenty of diversity and opportunities for individual expression — one gent opts for a claret-and-navy guards striped repp; another chooses wool challis or a Macclesfield print.

    If the fellow hoping to assist me with a mortgage wants my business, he’d damned well better wear a jacket and tie.

    Upon reflection, he does.

    • John Burton | May 15, 2024 at 7:06 am | Reply

      Where to start? Start broad and drill down. Words like “legit” and “narrowing” and “culling” and “forgettable people” – I imagine this energy to be the kind of thing that turns people off to Ivy – which makes it sad.

      • I’m afraid Ivy and prep communities have always catered to and encouraged this sort of snobbery, John. For many, this elitism is arguably the raison d’être for the culture.

    • Well said sir.I could have not put it in words better.
      Greetings from London

  8. The Amazing Tom | May 15, 2024 at 12:28 pm | Reply

    About half of the professionals today would never wear a tie. They are called ladies.

  9. I joined my dad in our clothing business in 1960.
    We sold a lot of ties.
    I suggested we should make our own ties.
    He said,”Then start a tie company.”
    So I did.
    I am now 85 and still run the tie business – although being in the tie business today is like being in the buggy whip business.
    I always liked ties. To me they combine self expression and complete how a man wearing a suit or sports jacket should look.
    I added “novelties” to my tie line and called them ” Conversation Pieces”.
    I always wore a jacket and tie when my wife and went to the movies on a Saturday night.
    While in line, it was not unusual to be asked what my tie meant.
    I miss the “good ole days”- both sartorially and from my younger years.
    When we moved to NJ there were a number of restaurants that had “Jacket and Tie required” signs on their doors.
    To day you can get served in your underwear.

  10. I still wear ties 3-4 days weekly. It’s part of my work mentality. If I feel well dressed, I perform at a higher level. I wear them for me. Ties are indeed quirky now, but this erstwhile Librarian is as well. A major part of my brand. When you’re 60, you carry yourself a certain way. For me, that means a snappy, smart look.
    I don’t do hoodies, performance golf shirts, or the whole mismatched middle aged vibe.

  11. Don’t be sad. It’s positive energy. A good pruning renders a much healthier garden. A thorough culling leads to … strength. No reason for sadness.

  12. The U.S. State Department has approximately 270 facilities, embassies and consulates around the world and in the U.S. – think the UN. It was started by Thomas Jefferson with Ben Franklin a precursor diplomat. They still wear ties, as do professionals in most countries around the world. It is not a hardship to wear a tie. It is not uncomfortable. You look good and you are showing respect for everyone you are speaking with. I agree with the previous long live the tie comment.

  13. MacMcConnell | May 16, 2024 at 2:38 am | Reply

    In this day Ivy Style is the new Punk. We are the outliers. If folks are offended they are not strong enough to wear it.
    I’m not offended when a guy dressed as a lumberjack in skinny jeans tells me I dress like an old man. In good fun I might ask him what lumber company he works for.
    I don’t discriminate, except in my personal taste and morals. Even two people that have great taste can disagree.
    Having sold Ivy clothing I know not everyone can afford the cream, but they settle for Half & Half or milk and can still dress well.
    I’m a Ivy evangelical, I’m the guy friends or family call when clothing is needed. I show up with my tape and tailors chalk.

  14. I thought I recognized them and then I realized, hey those are my ties!

    • John Burton | May 16, 2024 at 3:00 pm | Reply

      Apologies they were in our media library so I assumed you had already given permission. They are down now and removed.

  15. Perhaps good form to credit the tie image, taken from one of the OG Prep/ Ivy bloggers.

  16. I just feel that a suit without a tie is, on some atavistic level, WRONG!
    Sport coat/no tie, okay in most cases, a little underdressed sometimes, but the suit itself stands for a certain level of formality. To wear one without a tie instantly negates that and gives the impression that one just doesn’t understand how to dress.
    I recall a group photo of a number of heads of state, in the Obama years, all with dark suits/no ties. Even the commentators of the jeans/hoodies school of haberdashery made comment that it didn’t look good.

  17. John, no worries at all. You can use an image of mine just give me a shoutout. Thanks for following up.

  18. I continue to wear a suit, blazer, or tweed jacket to church, weddings, and funerals (obviously the occasion determines which). The same is true when my wife and I dine at a certain sort of restaurant. (The sort that would have required adherence to a dress code 20 years ago). A tie just feels natural as do proper shoes. I’m in my late 30s. Not many younger Americans go to church or get married anymore. They frequent bars rather than restaurants. Largely they don’t encounter tie wearing gentlemen. If only Zuckerberg and Elon Musk wore the uniform. Then the tie would still be a staple found on most professionals and the masses.

  19. I own but a handful of ties. I seldom wear them, but I love them nontheless. When I was a kid, my father had dozens of different ties. They hung from an array of tie hooks on the inside of his closet door. Whenever he opened it, the ties would swish and sway gracefully from side to side. He’s a retired physician and for most of his career, doctors were expected to wear ties. But then at some point, seemingly all at once, doctors everywhere exchanged their suits, ties, and white lab coats for scrubs. My dad says he’s glad they did so, mainly because ties were seldom cleaned and became repositories of whatever malicious microbes doctors would encounter throughout the day. Once in a while I still see male-identifying doctors wearing ties, even younger doctors, but it’s rare.
    I have just enough variety in my own (very modest) tie collection to suit a particular mood or occasion, but no more than that.
    On another note, It’s great to see a comments on this topic from Paul Winston. My next tie purchase will probably be another grenadine from Chipp. They’re as close to a perfect tie as you can get, in my view, as they pair with anything and are just as at home in Ivy, Neapolitan, or English tailoring.

  20. I like ties. Unfortunately, I don’t find myself wearing a suit or blazer lately.
    But nothing upgrades a navy blazer like a nice tie. I normally use accessories to add the color to my wardrobe.
    I’ll always feel at ease in a tie.

  21. To agree with a few other fellows here, I’m trying not to lament the downward spiral of sartorial standards too much. On the upside, it means that you’re easily the most well dressed man in the room just for wearing a shirt with a collar. I think people like it when you appear to “put in some effort.” This site has helped me with a few responses to say to “why are you so dressed up?” One I like: “I just dress like this” or “I just like to dress this way.”

    P.S. I think I blazer or sport coat is harder to pull off sans tie, and don’t even try it with a suit if you ask me.

    P.P.S. totally agree with Mac and S.E. This whole attempting to virtue signal about inclusiveness is as boring as it is obvious. Embrace the counterculture that is normality. Get married, have kids, wear nice clothes, lift weights, go to Church, be a good husband and father.

    Cheers.

  22. MA, that’s some virtue signaling, right there.

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