Greg Bruce reports on the death of the tie
Last week I watched, transfixed, out my central city office window, as a middle-aged man in shirt and tie crossed the street. I knew the tie had been near death for a long time but this was the moment I realised it had finally crossed over. I was surprised to discover, as I watched this man's purposeful walk, that he looked ridiculous.
If, before this moment, I had been asked to catalogue the leading men's fashion incompetencies of my adult lifetime, I would have said, in no particular order:
* Three-quarter pants
* Boot-cut jeans
* Scoop-neck T-shirts
* Slim-cut going-out shirts, unbuttoned to the chest, worn untucked over distressed jeans.
Since that moment, though, I have begun to rethink. The above-mentioned garments, while all absurd, had at least been attempts at progress. The creators of the three-quarter pant were trying to do something new - so were the creators of the tie, of course, but three-quarter pants died just a few years after they were first forged in the pits of hell, while the tie has carried on more or less unchanged for four centuries. Putting on a pair of three-quarter pants, while misguided, at least makes a statement. Putting on a tie makes the statement that you are no longer a source of original thought.
The tie symbolises much that is bad not just about men's fashion but about our culture. It embodies outdated notions of masculine power and its endurance stands as testament to the lack of desire by well-off white men to think too hard about anything beyond sex and money. The selection and wearing of a tie involves no effort. Its raison d'etre is the elimination of effort. The tie is a significant piece of evidence that society's demands on men are not huge.
In 2016, former Prime Minister John Key told More FM's Si and Gary why he owned hundreds of ties: "What can you change as a bloke?" Key said. "I've got 10 suits and I've got a lot of shirts but you don't really notice all that stuff. The thing you notice is a tie."
Two thoughts about that: First, 10 suits is at least seven too many. By eliminating the excess supply, Key could easily have freed up budget for a good leather jacket, a camel overcoat, Chelsea boots, espadrilles, some good plain and print T-shirts, a blazer, cropped chinos, a denim shirt, a shawl-neck cardigan, some no-show socks, a good linen shirt, slim-fit jeans and maybe a pair of neutral-coloured Crocs for casual weekends on Parnell Rd.
Second: What do you want to be noticed for?
Toy story: pleasure and discomfort in the sex emporium
Hera Lindsay Bird has thoughts about this article about her
Three years ago, John Bercow, speaker of the British House of Commons, caused an international hubbub by saying male MPs did not need to wear ties in the debating chamber. Last year, in the United States, one of the leading Democratic presidential contenders, Andrew Yang, created a to-do by turning up to a debate sans tie. Moments like these are popular in the international news cycle, where they are used to reignite the debate, which has been ongoing for years, about whether the tie is dead. These debates are as boring as their subject matter and equally pointless. Look at a man in a tie and tell me you can't feel the rigor mortis.
Because it is unholy, even in death the tie persists, not reincarnated but occasionally exhumed. You still see it in such diverse places as on politicians and executives.
No one gets excited about putting on a tie, just as no one gets excited about seeing one. The tie is pure neutrality. It is neutrality in extremis - empty, a void, the ultimate sartorial instantiation of the unexamined life. In a world full of exciting opportunities, a tie is an auto-reply message to every one of them. It reads: "Sorry, I'm not available right now. I'm going to be in meetings today - and all of this week - and for the rest of my life."