Thursday, March 5, 2009

Banish Ties!

My partner said this morning as we were getting ready to go to work, "you look nice!" as he looked at me in a shirt and tie, dress slacks, and boots, of course. (I don't own any shoes, nor will I.)

I should be happy with receiving a compliment. He is always so supportive in so many ways.

But I just h-a-t-e neckties. I really do. I always have. I don't like how they look. I can't stand how they feel. Even with a properly-fitted shirt, wearing a tie still makes me feel like I'm being bound. And I am definitely not into bondage whatsoever.

My statement about feeling "bound" is a metaphor. Perhaps my feelings of revulsion toward neckties has more to do with how I rebel against conformity. I have strongly resisted being forced through society's pressures to conform to a certain style of dress, manners of behavior, ways of being. I see a necktie more than anything else as a symbol of conforming to society's old-fashioned pressures.

Alas, I love my job. Part of keeping that job is having to go along with what the boss wants, and what the employer expects. After all, I was recently promoted to a fairly high level position. That promotion was based mostly on what I know and what I can do, but I know they wouldn't have put me in that position if I did not conform to their expectations of dress when we meet with people from outside the organization, or our organization's members.

Thank goodness they don't extend those expectations to footwear. Seriously, if somehow they insisted that I had to wear dress shoes, I probably would quit. But my boots are shined, look fine with pants over, and not a one of my co-workers or bosses have said anything about what's on my feet.

Yesterday when I facilitated a meeting with law enforcement leaders, I had to wear a shirt & tie. Fortunately, I could do the symbolic thing of wearing a jacket in the first moments of the meeting, then taking it off and placing it on the back of a chair. Most other men did the same, except for a few. There are always a few -- like my twin brother -- who wear a jacket and tie and say they like it. Poor fellas....

As the meeting went on and I was becoming very "engaging" (or some say "hyperactive") to maintain attention, the tie was loosened and the top button was undone. Again, this is acceptable during a meeting... to loosen up as it progresses, particularly if you're running around as I do when I facilitate a meeting. (Some call me the equivalent of a game show host as active as I am during a meeting.)

Today, I have a meeting at a federal agency, so once again, I had to put on a tie and have a jacket with me. I put the tie on at home, and wore it to work. But as I was catching up on my morning email, I just felt more and more confined, restrained, and restricted. My usual free-flow morning creativity was just gone. I had to finish writing a proposal, but my thoughts weren't gelling. This was serious!

So I reached up and yanked the tie off, and unbuttoned my collar. I stepped out to get some water and take a short walk around the office. When I returned ten minutes later, I was in a completely different state of mind. The rest of that proposal just flowed from my brain to the fingers on my keyboard. I think it's a winner -- and all because I took that damn tie off.

I know, some of the readers of this blog (hey, Maf) think suits & boots are an enjoyable appearance. I've heard that from others. That's fine, I am glad you enjoy it. I just don't. I never have. Yuck. Just ask my twin brother: I got the "jeans" genes, and he got the "suit" genes.

I know it's all in my head. But that's just how I am. Men's neckties should be banished from the world. We all would be more comfortable, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wear a suit to work most days but, unless it's a job interview, an open-necked shirt or turtleneck rather than a tie. I suppose I'm lucky to be in a position where I can do that. A degree of eccentricity/creativity is expected of me

I have no particular hatred of ties (when I did wear them to work, a decade or so ago, I had a big collection of different colours and patterns and used to enjoy matching them to my shirts) but just don't wear them these days, for various reasons. One big one is the heat: I'm originally from the north of Scotland and, the first summer I moved to London was scorchingly hot; I abandoned my ties for something cooler around the neckline, and I never really got back into the habit of wearing them.

I always quite liked the tie as a means of self-expression; now I probably do that through other clothes, and have dress shirts in some beautiful colours. And, despite loving boots, I'm not at all opposed to dress shoes, especially traditional English brogues in polished black or oxblood. My partner complains that, if you add my shoe and boot collection together, I rival Imelda Marcos.

Horses for courses, as they say.