/To tie or not to tie

To tie or not to tie

From Shaman’s Rock

By Jim Poling Sr.

Society’s deep thinkers have varying theories on the three stages of life. Like childhood, adulthood, and old age. Or, learning, working, and teaching.

I discovered a theory of my own the other day while rummaging through my clothes closet. 

The first stage of life is acquiring stuff. Stage two is using the stuff, followed by stage three – getting rid of stuff.

The last stage is the hardest. I confirmed that while staring into my closet jam packed with stuff I haven’t used in years and might never use again.

I mean how could I possibly discard my collection of neckties, none of which I have worn in years? 

I have some treasured beauties. Power ties, fun ties. Ties that brighten the day. Ties for darker days saddened by funerals.

The most spectacular on my rack is a red and gold checkered tie that likely cost more than all the others combined. It is 100-per-cent pure silk and was a gift from a visiting Korean news executive. 

That’s my favourite necktie but I can’t remember when I last wore it. It turns out that many other folks have not put on a necktie in ages. 

Neckties, I’m told, are out of style despite having been an important feature of men’s dress for a long time. A Gallup poll found that 67 per cent of men no longer wear neckties to work. Another poll found that only six per cent wear a tie on a daily basis.

Neckties traditionally symbolized authority and power. Their history goes back thousands of years.

Egyptian mummies have been found with knotted clothes around their necks. The Egyptians believed that knots held and released magic.

The bodies of ancient Chinese men, plus statues of men, have been found with various neck cloths believed to symbolize the ranks of soldiers.

Later, the French who really liked the idea of neck cloths, made them a high society fashion they called the cravat. As the cravat or necktie gained popularity it was seen as 

a symbol of decorum, elegance, and respect, as well as an opportunity for self-expression.

After the Second World War the military connection with neckties faded greatly and more colours and styles appeared. Wider and louder ties appeared and now ties have a wide variety of colours, patterns and widths. The standard necktie now is 3.5 inches wide and 57 inches long.

For me the most important thing about a necktie is how you knot it. The most common knot is the Four-in-Hand knot, or schoolboy knot, that is relatively small, narrow and not symmetrical.

Early in my childhood my dad taught me how to tie a Windsor knot, which is triangular, wider, symmetrical and said to project confidence.

My dad and other men of his era would not be happy to see how ties are knotted these days, no matter what knot is used. They lived in times when neckties were carefully tied, snugged neat against the top of the collar and never left loosely sloppy.

Today neckties seem to be worn as an afterthought. They often are sloppily tied, knots crookedly below unbuttoned collars. Bottom tie tip hanging below the belt line.

Ties serve no real purpose these days. The ways people view each other have changed, so more casual dress probably makes sense.

However, guys wearing ties remain a big attraction for women. A recent study by well-known American psychologist C. Nathan DeWall found that women still love to see men in neckties, either at work or at social events

An earlier study reported that 72 per cent of women are turned on when a man wears a necktie on a date.

Although I’ve reached that third stage of life when I should be disposing of all sorts of unused stuff, I think I’ll hang on to my neckties. You never know when they might make a comeback.

As Lee Iacocca, the now deceased former Ford Motor Company president, once said: 

“When neckties went from narrow to wide, I kept all my old ones until the style went back to narrow.”