10 reasons not to wear a tie

I was chatting with Dave this morning, and he mentioned he had an important meeting at work.
So you’ll be putting on a tie? I typed. Morning humor. Everyone knows geeks don’t wear ties.

That got me thinking. Ties don’t make a lot of sense, but like makeup and pantyhose, they’re firmly ingrained into our concept of “appropriate apparel.” The more I thought about it, the more absurd it seemed. I did a little investigating and have come up with ten good reasons for men not to wear ties. Pull this out next time someone says “dress code.”

  1. Ties are obviously phallic. It’s a big arrow pointing down at your crotch, saying “LOOK AT ME! I’M A GUY!” I think by this time in human evolution we can get beyond this.
  2. Ties advertise submission. You’re saying “sure, boss, I’ll do whatever you want, wear whatever you want, you’re the boss, I just want to fit in, please don’t fire me.” Think about it! You’re offering your neck to anyone who wants to grab hold and pull you around. Take a stand. Don’t be a human lemming.
  3. Ties are foppish and 16th century. You think we would have evolved in menswear since Louis XIV decided that his Croatian mercenaries looked hot in their neck scarves. At least those served some discernible purpose (cleaning out a gun? wiping off sweat?) — Commit to progress. Live in the 21st century.
  4. The kind of tie you wear labels you. Holiday and theme ties are like those fancy fingernail treatments. Please. I don’t even want to get into bow ties. And what did George W. Bush have to say about Tony Blair’s retirement? “Sure gonna miss those red ties.” If you can be summed up by your tie, it has done you a disservice. Solve the problem by not wearing one at all. A little mystery goes a long way.
  5. Ties are sexist. As are pantyhose. Anything that can be mandated to one half of the human race but not the other should be outlawed. A 2003 court case in Britain, reported in the Daily Telegraph, backs me up.
  6. Ties are a choking hazard. It takes a lot longer to get that first button undone if you have a tie on than if you don’t. Every second counts. Irreversible brain damage can occur after only 5 minutes without oxygen.
  7. The argument that ties cover up mismatched buttons is lame. It costs a lot less to buy a set of buttons and needle and thread than to buy a decent tie. Mismatched buttons at least serve a purpose. And how many people actually have mismatched buttons on their shirts? Really.
  8. Ties are a health hazard. Crowded elevator, closing doors. And then there are the germs. How often do ties get washed? I’m surprised OSHA hasn’t legislated on this already.
  9. The argument that ties say “I respect you” is lame. Hint: have you ever seen an insurance salesman, a car salesman, or a lawyer working without a tie? Au contraire, ties say “watch out, honey, I’m about to pull a fast one on you.”
  10. Ties, which are made of silk, are the product of child slave labor. Human Rights Watch estimates that there are at least 350,000 bonded children working in the Indian silk industry. Do you want to be part of that? I didn’t think so.

There are the most compelling reasons, ones that can be applied to anyone with a Y chromosome. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few more special cases:

  • If you’re a geek, you will get laughed at if you wear a tie and lose all credibility with your peers. (Aside: It’s a complete mystery to me why the Best Buy Geek Squad has to wear skinny black ties – male or female. Does the management truly know nothing about geeks?)
  • If you don’t normally wear a tie, people will know you have a job interview somewhere else if you come in wearing one.
  • If you think women will think you’re hot if you wear a tie, think again. It’s a highly unreliable hotness marker. It’s more likely they think you’re a corporate climber or a lawyer and they’re more interested in your money than tearing off your tie. It could be a trap. Stepford wives, anyone? If that’s what you’re after, then by all means…

On a personal note: my own husband, as he’s climbed the ranks in the world, tells me he must on occasion wear ties because “it’s what is expected.” I still love my lemming, but I can’t say I’m surprised that he gets sick more often than I do, or that he has no cred with the geeks in his faculty (he’s just a bureaucrat…). We all make our choices.

Image: from thinkgeek.com If you must wear a tie, consider one like this. It says “ties suck” in binary.

33 thoughts on “10 reasons not to wear a tie

  1. I bet the person who posted this does NOT have a professional job, therefore has to much time to worry about unimportant stuff that will never effect them……LOL

    • No, if you look at the blog a little closer, the person who posted this is female, and thus doesn’t have to deal with the issue at all. Of course I don’t have a professional job! So yes, I do have tons of time to sit around writing about inconsequential things that don’t apply to me. Life is great. I’m so sorry you lost your sense of humor. Enjoy wearing your tie and doing important things.

      • Suits and ties don’t make the man. They show a brainwashed suck up, poser, follower type. Nothing impressive about it. The uniform of conformity for the weak minded.

  2. Okay, so other than the fact that i have a problem with all 10 of these. Number 5 is my favorite. Thank you very much but ties are not sexist. At all, what-so-ever. I am a female and i wear ties on a daily basis. They are very unisex. and keep in mind i do not wear them in a manly way either, I make them look very trendy, chic, girly, and sexy, and can pull it off in a very professional manner or make it look very casual. I have no intentions of cross dressing or dressing like a man, i just like ties. i think they are very cute and trendy and adds flare to an outfit. I like to wear them with a matching pair of heels to top it off also, give the outfit even more spark!

    • Yes, they are sexist, precisely because you get the choice whether to wear one or not. Nobody is going to threaten you with dismissal because you decide not to wear one on a hot day or because you find them very uncomfortable. This is routine for men.

  3. Amusing article. And interesting to hear about the sexual harassment suit. I forgot to wear a tie into the office and was looking for a reason to feel more confident about it. Thanks.

    I know plenty of people who don’t have to wear ties into the office and have good-paying jobs, so the thought that you can’t get a job without one is preposterous. Although, for myself, I tend to err on the side of caution for interviews.

  4. I love to wear neckties… but the funny thing is i don´t wear it at work. I think there are worse things than wearing neckties (i mean for those who think so) like wear socks and flip flaps or a dress shirt under a tshirt. i could write 1,000 reasons about it. But definitely i can´t agree less with you about this matter. I´m sure in others we´d get along great though!!

    • dress shirt under a t shirt, never the t shirt always go’s under the dress shirt. I like to choke people out with their neck ties (SARC) suite and tie are for followers.

  5. I’m a scientist. I study hard, and work in research to gain the maximum experience. I love what I do. Scientists are known to wear scruffy t-shirts and jeans with their lab coat. But I decide to wear a shirt and on the odd occasion, a tie to important meetings. I have to say, the comments I receive from my peers and senior researches on my attire are great! In fact, it helped me landed a placement researching pulmonary arterial hypertension with a world class scientist. Ties, in my experience, add to the individual. I work hard, sure, but I love what I do too.

  6. This is pretty funny and I did laugh a lot. However, I completely disagree. I work in insurance operation(not sales and agency). We are not required to wear a tie so 98% of people do not. I wear a tie becasue it sets me apart from almost everyone else. Upper management has noticed this since day one as I am constantly getting comments on how the love the way I am building my personal brand in the company. The only day I do not wear a tie is Friday, and everyone notices that as well. I love ties. They are a great way to tie a shirt and suit together and the make you stick out among your peers.

  7. I work in a school where all the men have to wear a tie and all the women… I don’t know but there’s a lot of scope for variation for them.
    I actually have a phobia of things around my neck but it is something I’m told I have to do if I want to work here. I truly hate them.

    Why should I wear a tie? Furthermore, what purpose do they serve other than to make me too hot, get in the way and prove that I’m somebody’s lackey?

    Ties are a stupid arbitrary bit of cloth that, in my opinion, should not be forced upon anyone to wear. Any uniform that uses them should be redesigned. Why is something so pointless also so frequently forced upon people?

  8. I couldn’t agree more that neckties are stupid, impractical, and a nuisance. Almost every other item of clothing has evolved in recent years, so why do we still cling to the tie? Do pro athletes still wear canvas sneakers? Compare it to the cellphone-do you really want to go back to a rotary dial phone when you could be using an i-phone? Ties seem to be more a tool of oppression than anything else. Certainly someone can come with a better, more modern alternative. Are you listening Nike?

  9. The whole “image” of wearing a tie–that is somehow means power, knowledge, respect, “dressed nicely”, etc. My mom buys into that BS hook, line, and sinker (and at the age of 78 still chides me for avoiding the look completely). Sort of the opposite of your number 9: the person you are talking to or dealing with must surely see that you are a knowledgeable person to be respected because you have a tie. What utter crap! And, like number 9, the people you list who wear a tie–perfect examples of the “image”. You forgot defendants in court who are going to jail for a long time. They also wear a tie.

  10. To me the whole point of dressing up (wearing a tie, shining shoes, tuck in shirt etc) is that it shows other people that you do take some care in your endeavours and do so with at least some attention to the details.

    I think of your clothing as another aspect of communicating with someone. Imagine mumbling or cursing a lot and slurring your words, talking too loudly etc., that could be likened to wearing flip flops, sweat pants and cheap graphic tees. It says you don’t care.
    The problem is, it’s hard to tell what it is you don’t care about. So, you could be a meticulous genius who just gives no thought to dress, however, you may have to fight much harder to convey that.

  11. I am completely agree with you. I don’t like tie. It prevents working smoothly. Tie doesn’t symbolizes smartness. Rather it a barrier of success.

  12. The #1 made me go right to the comment section.

    How dare you?

    I’m a man and I don’t think in any way that a man is a relation to a penis?

    Like I seriously don’t get it. You’re fishing for reasons to be mad at men, yet it’s an article bashing an article of clothing.

    Kinda biased, don’t you think?

    • Yes, it’s completely biased. So glad you picked up on that! On another note, in my experience, men usually do have penises. I’m not fishing for reasons to be mad at men. Quite the opposite. I want to liberate them from having to wear foppish neckwear.

  13. Altough i agree fully with the article, fyi, the appellate tribunal in uk reversed the decision in tie case and held the policy to be non discriminatory.

  14. While some human mankind are starving to death, others are investing their time and resources to “conceal their buttons” through a tie and, over time, having hundreds of thousands of corporations and banks over the world forcing this piece of cloth on men adding no economical or productive value whatsoever.

  15. Ia am retired and dress only to please myself (and my wife). I wear a tie every day. Incidentally, my wife wears pantyhose every day. What is wrong with being well dressed? Being well dressed may well be an expression of vanity, but it is vanity of a relatively harmless kind and does at least also express an aspiration to look good that requires an effort to approach. Moreover, insofar as it seeks the admiration of others, it does at least recognize the existence and importance of others. Being ill-dressed when you don’t need to be, on the other hand, is expressive either of an indifference toward others or of an active desire to insult them. It is the expression of a vanity of a rather worse kind. A slob seems only all-important to himself.

  16. As someone with a knowledge of clothing history, these are all very recent takes. Ties being phallic only became a thing in the 60s, when low waisted pants became a thing. Ties didn’t advertise submission. They didn’t advertise anything really. Most people, from poor miners to kings wore ties. Women did too, contrary to people’s perception of history. I guess the choking hazard argument is true, if mostly irrelevant. The kind of tie you wear does identify you, but that’s something all clothes do. Ties don’t exist to cover buttons. That’s something people who had no idea and didn’t do any research came up with. Ties can get caught in things, but that’s because few people bother to secure their tie anymore. Of course, few workers wear ties anymore. Wearing one makes you stand out, not fade into the background. I can’t refute arguments against silk, but ties aren’t all made out of silk. If you are wondering what a tie actually does, it holds a collar together. When it is cold you can turn up your shirt collar and tie you tie so it stays closed and you stay protected. It’s also a piece of fabric in case you need something to tie around something, like a wound in a pinch. Most of your complaints are valid(ish) for modern times, but some of them are cartoonishly stupid. People also wore shirts in the 16th century. The problems with ties aren’t inherent to the clothing, but are entirely about what people think of them.

    • I’m so glad you were able to capture the tone I was shooting for – “cartoonishly stupid.” Yes! Ties are stupid. Yes! That’s my opinion! And yes, I totally made up that part about covering up buttons, good catch. And good point about having a handy wound dressing on hand, just in case. I hadn’t thought of that. And as for stupid clothing in history, maybe I should do some research and write about bras and corsets, just to be fair…

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