Controversially, I quite like wearing ties. In fact, if I were asked what I thought was the most useful thing I learnt during high school, my response would be that it was learning how to correctly tie a Full Windsor.
But if I was going to be completely honest this is probably because learning how to tie a tie is the only thing that I can actually remember from my high school days with any real clarity.
Somewhere along the line, these once-noble pieces of male attire became synonymous with the socially awkward and just plain odd.
Recently, however, I thought I'd branch out and try something new. So I invested in a bow-tie. Forgetting the fact that even after an hour of practicing the knot it still looked like a misshapen gift ribbon, I was confident enough in my choice to leave the house and head to work.
Considering that, thanks to Messer's Tom Ford, Nickelson Wooster and Ed Westwick the bow-tie has received a recent boost in image and public acceptance, I thought I was going to be hailed for my sartorial savviness.
To say that it went down like Brynne Edelsten on Celebrity Splash would be a complete understatement. Whilst most of the ribbing was in good nature (although if Pretty Penguin catches on as a nickname I'd be tempted to change cities) it did get me thinking whether or not bow-ties really are better left for the likes of Jerry Lewis and characters from Glee.
Author of the book Dress for Success and the man responsible for the idea of 'power dressing', John T. Molloy, is quite clear on the topic. “If you wear a bow-tie,” he writes, “you will never be taken seriously and no-one will trust you with important business.” Harsh.
Yet whilst this was written back in 1975, it doesn't appear as though this opinion has much changed. Particularly from within the ranks of the office.
“For me, personally, I would absolutely never consider wearing a bow-tie in the workplace,” says Benjamin Smith from finance company, Summit Consulting. “I feel that they look ridiculous and just a little bit old fashioned. Nor would I feel comfortable sending a staff member to a meeting with a client who was wearing one. To me, this just doesn't seem like professional attire.”
Ironically, bowties were in fact the original 'professional's' attire, traditionally being worn by professors, architects, attorneys and even politicians having been descended from the more formal cravat. But somewhere along the line, these once-noble pieces of male attire became synonymous with the socially awkward and just plain odd, à la Pee-wee Herman and Mad Men's Bertram Cooper.
Yet, unlike other more staid forms of fashion such as the top-hat and coattails, bow-ties seem to have somehow managed to remain a viable option for the male wardrobe. If you have the courage for it.
“Fortunately, I have a fairly liberal workplace,” says Daniel Stone from communications group Manic Studios in Sydney. “I tend to wear one when everything has become a little dull, or when the situation could be shaken up a little. Sure it's a little weird, but when I'm wearing one I feel like I'm an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.”
Personally, I'm all for options and thankfully I work in an industry that provides me a certain amount of leeway to exercise those options. And whilst there is still a lingering sentiment towards bow-ties as the call-sign for the odd-man-of-the-office, I wouldn't discount them altogether as a viable alternative to that striped tie you've worn for the past three years because in the words of writer Steven Moffat: “See the bowtie? I wear it and I don't care. That's why it's cool.”
What do you think of bow-ties? Should they be worn in the workplace?
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