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Do neckties need mouth-to-mouth? (Revisited)

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Ben Stein fires some rounds over the whole “demise of the necktie” affair. He sounds heated about the subject.

You see this lovely silken thing around my neck? It’s called a necktie.

When I was a lad and a younger man, men wore these to show they did not work with picks and shovels and pitchforks.

Ties were a symbol of white collar status, although even some workmen wore them under their leather aprons.

If you had on a necktie, it showed you had some sense of organization, some sense of dignity about yourself.

Even schoolboys wore them. At fabulous boarding schools like Cardigan Mountain in New Hampshire, where my handsome son went, boys still wear them. It showed, to use a word that you rarely hear, class.

The necktie is a sign of a man who is there to work, not to play. It’s what a man who takes his responsibilities seriously wears. Men who want to look and act like small children dress like small children, or surfers, or hoboes, or something.

[Taken from CBS News]

I wanted to retouch on the death of the necktie because I did not really get to cover why if it was happening or if the article was even accurate. For the past 2 decades, our country has been transforming into a very informal culture that has rooted itself in comfort at all costs. The wardrobe has become increasingly ergonomic and put-together individuals are rare. However, Ben Stein has lost touch to why the necktie has allegedly fallen out of favor. His mention of a son he can send to boarding school that makes the students wear neckties and him growing up in a time wear clothing delineated what class you were in is a sign of a man who is not in with the times. In my generation, being well-put together meant you were trying to dress like the pretentious Carlton from Fresh Prince and he represented generations of stuffy, brown-nosing, unfairly privileged yuppies.

People didn’t want to be Carlton. People wanted to be The Fresh Prince, the cool guy. The cool guy did not try to fit in with a sartorial aristocracy that he was not comfortable around. The cool guy did his own thing and was comfortable in his own skin and clothes, even if it was a pair of T-shirt and jeans. For a spell, money was not a factor in good fashion because good fashion was rooted in swagger and swagger was for free. I grew up in a generation that did not let one’s clothing determine one’s confidence. If you think about it, the necktie is tyrannical in the sense that it decides who deserves respect and who doesn’t.

But I agree with some of Ben Stein’s sentiments. When you’re older, you tend to think that the generations after you don’t have it together as much as your generation did when you were at that age. That’s the curse of tradition: what one group thinks is time-tested, another group thinks is obsolete. I think it’s a shame that a lot people my age do not know the meaning and history of the necktie and because of this, I see a lot of people who do not or cannot wear a suit correctly. It’s not their fault when you grow up in this coddled society thinking “people will like me no matter what I wear.” Everyone is really just confused. We do not live in an age where the children wear neckties only to grow up as adults who wear neckties. It is difficult to make that transition of wearing a tie.

I would have to disagree with the demise of the necktie or I would have to disagree that it’s a bad thing if it’s really happening. The necktie still works in making people look distinguished, whether or not it is still a tyrannical practice. And if necktie wearing is experiencing a dramatic drop, then it only makes the well-dressed individuals look even better. I’m not going to lament that men are not wearing neckties anymore. I’m going to take advantage of it.

Besides, if the necktie dies out, then that’s how it goes and such is the circle of fashion. If people did not let things die out, then we’d still be rockin’ frilly shirts.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 10, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    It is true that the necktie has become less popular in mens business attire. Nevertheless, necktie sales are up. Necktie sales are an inverse of the unemployment rate. I own a necktie retailer and over the last 12 months sales have been up by over 20% – the number of increase in unemployment.

    The competitive job market makes people dress more professional for their job interviews. Wearing a necktie is simply classy and professional business attire.

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