Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Today's Biz World, Ties No Longer Bind

OK, I'll admit it. I like wearing a necktie. It's the only thing I have in common with George Clooney.
Yes, it's passe' to drape a piece of ornamental cloth around your neck, especially in today's business world where the more casual you dress the higher you go in the organization. Power is never having to wear a suit and tie.
Indeed, business dress is becoming so yesterday that after 60 years the trade group that represented American tie makers is disbanding. I suspect the polo shirt/chinos association is humming along, however.
When I started out, mentors made it clear that business attire was expected and there was nothing casual about Fridays. You didn't dare go on an interview or an assignment without dressing up. Not only did your boss expect you to clean up your act, so did your sources--who were also required to wear business attire.
Journalism is notoriously casual but I've worked at a major newspaper where male reporters were told to go home and not come back unless they were wearing a tie. I've witnessed a boss order salesmen to immediately go out and buy black shoes because their brown loafers were inappropriate for meetings. As a manager, I've sat in on conversations with a human resources staffer, who read the riot act to employees about casual dress habits.
Those days are long gone.
Now, the only profession that regularly wears business suits are litigation attorneys. Apparently, the judges insist on it for the sake of courtroom decorum.
Tee-shirts, open-collar sports shirts, casual slacks, those dreaded brown loafers, are the uniform of the day.
I guess it makes sense, especially when people are chained to a computer or in a cubicle for most of the day. Why not be comfortable?
And managers? They have little choice but to go along with this new dress code. Otherwise, they aren't considered team players or are branded as "Old School", the death knell of career advancement.
Not to sound too Andy Rooney here, but sometimes the dressing down trend goes too far.
Casual clothes are seeping into many traditionally dressy events. Think not? Then check out any performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where increasingly only the performers are gussied-up for the night.
Yes, the necktie is dead and that's too bad.
I'd go to the funeral but don't have anything appropriate to wear.

15 comments:

Patricia Martin said...

It's not just the necktie's passing that saddens me, it the whole loss of masculine style. Somehow, the casualization of the American male transferred all fashion sense from the successful, self-confident man's man, to the fop. Nowadays, a stylish get-up can blur a fella's sexuality. How sad is that? I, too, shall miss the necktie and the crisp shirts and subtle whiff of cologne that go with them. If men only knew how appealing they are in them...alas.
Pat

Anonymous said...

Well said, as usual, Bob.

robcaldwell said...

I think what you are saying is correct. I myself, though, am a fan of ties. I go on business trips and am always wearing a tie. A lot of the people whom I meet don't wear ties, so I feel a little overdressed, but for those times that my customers are wearing ties, I'm glad that I'm doing the same. I guess I pretty much am not following the ways of the world, but I'm not sad about it. Great post. Though provoking.

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