The Upside Down Noose
When I started this post a few days ago, it was well after midnight, and I’d been home from work for several hours. I still had my tie on. Why?
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, mainly because I have started to notice that the necktie seems to be vanishing.
As I go out, I see ties less and less on the necks that I would expect them. I’ve seen bank managers wearing polo shirts or simply a dress shirt with the blazer, top button undone and no tie. A few weeks ago I was watching the news and a story was being delivered across from the White House, and the reporter was wearing his tie, loosened and his top button undone. I don’t believe my lawyer wore a tie when I last saw him. Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leafs General Manger used to frustrate me immensely, and not just because of the Kessel trade, but because he rarely wore his tie properly knotted. It was either thrown around his neck not even tied, or loosened off; and these were at press conferences! I remember my teachers in grade school and high school used to wear ties; I’ve never seen a teacher at my children’s school wear one. None of the salesmen or product reps I deal with at work wear one. In the last year, during all the job interviews I’ve conducted, I think I saw maybe three ties, but I did see many hats….those “hats” are probably still unemployed.
I learned rather late in life how to tie a tie. I think I was 16 and needed to wear one for an awards banquet or some such event. I learned the simplest knot out there, the Four-in-Hand Knot. It is however an asymmetric knot, which can look a little “off” on some shirts, or with some thicknesses of tie. I quickly learned to tie a Half-Windsor Knot (and naturally a Full-Windsor), and that is my knot of everyday choice. The Half-Windsor is a “triangular” knot, and a little more professional. It is also the knot I try to teach the various people who come to me asking me to tie their ties for them. Sometimes this teaching goes better than others, as I have a few former colleagues who still leave their tie knotted and slip it off over their heads each night… If you’re reading this, please don’t ever do that (or at least don’t let me hear about it); it’s terrible for the tie!
Also, wearing a tie with the top button undone (to me) looks unprofessional, but that seems to be more the norm these days.
I suppose there is resistance to wearing a tie when you are young because it may seem “too grown up”, or stuffy. Some have called their necktie the “upside down noose” (which might make for a great title for a book; and not just this article…I must remember this one). I suppose the noose analogy is because they feel trapped by their ties, chained to their desks perhaps.
With fewer and fewer people wearing them, it may be because of my tie wearing that people seem to think I work everywhere I go. I guess I look like I’m naturally in charge. In countless stores and several offices I’ve visited, I’ve been asked questions such as where to find things, when is closing time, and once even I was asked to sign for a delivery. I was shopping once and asked a clerk where to find garbage bags. She told me they were up front by the Customer Service kiosk on a lower right shelf. Thinking this was an out of the way spot to have garbage bags, I asked why they were there, she replied “because it’s closer to the main garbage room door”. I stood puzzled for a split second before I responded “I just want to buy some garbage bags!” and I got a fast apology because she thought I worked there… I suppose that shows that the proper tie can open many doors for you.
I’ve enjoyed this little rant about neckwear, and believe I will follow up with another post, very soon, so consider this “The Upside Down Noose – Part I”….also, all this talk about ties has me hungry; I really could go for some Thai…