Contemplation: On Wearing Ties
Here is a story. I moved into a new house back in February and in the process did the general moving thing of packing up all my things, transporting them to a new location, and then unpacking them (this unpacking process is still “in the works”). During the act of packing/unpacking I came to the realization that I own an exceptional number of ties. Looking through them I can trace them from three major sources; ones I bought at thrift stores for various reasons throughout high school and college, ones my dad gave me that he didn’t wear anymore, and ones that I have received as gifts over the years. Anyways, as part of the moving process I was trying to determine what stuff of mine I really wanted to keep, and what I could potentially get rid of. So I was looking at this bunch of ties I had and thinking to myself, “I might only wear one or two of these a year.” So I decided I either needed to get rid of all the excess ties or start wearing them more regularly. I decided with the wearing. For the past couple of months I have been regularly wearing a tie to work two or three times a week.
I like clothes. Several friends and roommates have laughed about how I own an extraordinary amount of clothing, probably because I never present myself as much of a fashion person. And truth is I don’t really give a fuck about fashion in the sense that I am less concerned with what is “hot” and “cool” and “in style” and much more interested in just wearing what I like (which tends to be t-shirts, jeans, and hoodie sweatshirts). I do try to maintain a degree of matching in my dressing, though I do think I tend towards a bit of disorderly presentation.
At work the policy for dress code is the ubiquitous “business casual” which seems to be the major vogue for a lot of work places these days. Basically it is, pants, shirt, no jeans (except Fridays), no t-shirts, no overly beat-up ratty clothing, etc. All and all the work dress code is pretty easy to comply with and while not the most inviting of individual stylings, it is bearable and comfortable. I own several pairs of nicer pants and a good number of various colored button-down shirts and all around the dressing for work has been a breeze. During the colder parts of winter I always wear a hoodie over my shirt (I am very susceptible to the cold) which, while it has gotten a few looks, has never provoked any comments. On Fridays I always take advantage of the opportunity to wear jeans and usually pair it with a snap shirt, untucked in a more casual manner.
The adding of ties has recently become a pleasure to present myself a little more individually. I still rock the hoodies on cold days which continues to get raised eyebrows but still no comments. I have more than enough ties that I could probably wear a different one every day for two weeks (or more) but so far I have been pretty satisfied with the two to three-day wear rotation.
I cannot remember when I first learned how to tie ties, but I know that my dad is the one who taught me. I have done it enough over the past years that now it is almost an act of habit. I tend to gravitate more towards skinny ties, though I own a few wider ties that go well when I am trying to present a greater degree of professionalism. As far as colors and patterns go I like simple better than complex. Solids, stripes, and dots all work well for me, but I do tend to shy away from anything overly garish or complex (I think a tie should be use to highlight the overall appearance but not take center attention).
It is kind of funny to start wearing a tie to work when for nearly the past three years I had never worn one. A lot of people have asked me “what is the occasion?” which makes sense. Today the humble tie tends to be a decorative piece that is reserved for occasions. it is reasonable to assume that over time the tie may end up going the way of men’s hats, fading into th background of necessary male style. I however think that the tie is worth its effort to this day. It displays a bit of professionalism, mixed with some individuality, and an overall sense of class (regardless of any class that I actually possess).
So here’s to you ties, may I wear you all well!