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  • Writer's pictureNiels Strohkirch

To Tie or Not To Tie?

A tie is an accessory which has been used since the 17th century in different shapes and styles but it survived to date in its actual form of vogue since 1926. But looking around at today’s business meetings or when the business community meets, you see it less and less. In meetings 10 years ago, a tie was a clear ‘must wear’ and it became a ‘can wear’ at many occasions. You see the US President without a tie giving press statements and you see the same from other world business leader and politicians. Most of the silicon tech elite leaders are tie-less. The latest and probably a quite prominent example is Greek Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis, who not only doesn’t wear a tie, but also attends meetings on international level in his leather jacket rather than a formal business attire.

Whatever you do or don’t do, there is a ‘hidden’ statement behind it. Mr. Varoufakis is using his unusual, and I am sure from some of his counterparts perceived as respectless dressing, as exactly that. To give his ‘respectless’ demands (as some of his counter players might see it) a clear push by his ‘respectless’ dressing. He signals that “I do not conform with your demands and I’ll show you that even in my dressing, I’m not willing to conform at all”.

Germany had a phase in the 1980’s when the Green Party became a political player ‘traditionally’ wearing jeans with sneakers, and in best case an old shirt with a bad fitting blazer. Mr. Fischer was the prototype as he was the first German Minister sworn in with the exact dress code described. You can imagine the controversy in which he was going with and I guess it was all well calculated. Anyhow, needless to say that years later when he became the German Foreign Minister he developed a ‘taste’ for well fitted and high end bespoke suits. How can I be sure they are bespoke suits? Well, they just fitted too well as opposed to being off the rack.

Coming back to the tie. This accessory shows the individuality of the wearer in a business and political world where suits are typically charcoal grey or dark navy blue. It’s the only difference you could show while wearing a well fitted bespoke suit in needless to say a high end fabric to give an impression to your counterparts that you are clearly superior. Shirts are typically white or for the more adventurous ones maybe light blue.

Nowadays you see shirts not only in pink but also with stripes and check designs and they are all accepted in the business community. I can still remember the time when my good old friend’s father explained to me that he can choose any colour of his shirt for business as long as it is white. That was in the 1980’s and he was the Head of quite a big production plant. Things have really changed and these changes are also driving out the tie. The shirts are not only getting more colourful itself, but even the collars are being stitched with different inside designs which you can only show off when you don’t wear a tie.

So now, when do you wear a tie and when do you leave it at home? In very formal events I still do wear tie all the time. First of all, as males you look ‘superior’ and secondly it also gives more respect to other participants. In less formal business events I only leave the tie at home when I know that it will be partially outdoor or the invitation says ‘business casual’ or simply ‘casual’. But if I have a choice I try to use the exact opposite style tactics as described above which were used by Mr. Fischer or Mr. Varoufakis. I do dress up on purpose over and above the ‘shine out’. Does it work? Hmm, I would say most of the time it does and being in the fashion and design business it is definitely a good thing to do.

So, what happens to the neck tie? Will it survive or disappear? I strongly believe it will stay as an accessory for many more decades, but not anymore as a fixed ‘must wear’ which is non debatable but rather as an accessory which shows the class of its wearer. Also, running a retail and online business where we sell ties, I can still see customers coming in and not only appreciating the tie but also buying it.


The neck tie is definitely changing the way it is seen as an accessory. It developed in many cases from a ‘must wear’ to a ‘can wear’ but it is still an accessory which gives the wearer superiority and status. While the perception is changing I do still believe it will be with us for many more decades to come.

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