The Case Against Ties
While walking through the men’s section at any department store, you are likely to see petulant teenagers carefully sorting through long pieces of brightly colored silk with their mothers, hurried middle-aged men quickly wearing the same garment without careful consideration or a college student staring intently at the price tags, confused as to how much he is expected to spend. Most men are faced with a scenario in which they are forced to venture into the stuffy department stores where their thoughts are slowly drowned out by a Pandora station probably called “Soft Rock Summer hits of the Early 2000’s” and buy a tie. But to what end? While no compelling reason for the attachment to outdated garment exists, there are plenty of reasons to abandon the traditional neck flair:
1. It is an inefficient distribution of resources.
In the peak of the recession during 2009, American men bought more than 29 million new ties, the “Washington Post” reported. If we are generous and say the average tie costs only $25—which is probably much lower than the actual amount, seeing how the cheapest tie available on JC Penny’s website is $30—Americans spent more than $739 million on ties. That number only encapsulates consumer spending. Further, money was wasted collecting the cotton and silk used to make those ties. Trucks (emitting C02) moved the ties across the country to various retail outlets, which distributed the ties.
Of course all of these things could be said about almost any consumer product. But what differentiates ties from other clothing items is the simple fact that ties serve no practical utility. In a world where children are cold at night because they are not properly dressed, we as a society divert resources from the production of clothing that could potentially keep that child warm for a superfluous accessory. Ties did at one time have a practical purpose. Ties originated as a device for men to wipe sweat from their brow. However, society has moved beyond this purpose, and for a good reason: it is disgusting. Why would anybody want the collection of their daily sweat hanging directly under their necks? Now that we as a people have wised up to the stupidity of this custom, we should just remove the tie from our wardrobe altogether.
2. It offends the idea of meritocracy.
Tie wearers are indeed rational actors. The tie may not have a practical utility, but there is an obvious utility. However, that utility is merely derived from a social construct, and one that is not worth keeping around. Ties are worn to express seriousness, to gain credibility and to gain the reassurance of your audience. This, however, should not be a prerequisite. One should not have to have a $40 piece of fabric dangling from one’s neck to be taken seriously.
The necktie is a device used for elites to insulate themselves, a singling mechanism of wealth that allows the hegemony to be reassured that one of their own is speaking. I would venture to say that world is worse off because this singling device was not obtainable for all, and the market place of ideas has been closed off to the poor and the unconventional.
3. It’s annoying.
The last thing I have against ties is strictly personal. I am not very good at tying ties, and I would not like to have to do it anymore. Double Windsor, Half Windsor, Shell Knot—who can keep up? Certainly not me.