Tie Story

Last week I bought a bow tie. I’m not sure why or when I imagine I might need it but it felt like something I should own. It led me to thinking what the whole point of ties really is? How did the idea even get thought of? Amazingly the first recorded tie of any sort dates back to ancient China and 210BC, The famous Terracotta Army statues found in 1974 are all sporting a sort of neck tie which historians reckon is some kind of badge of honour. There are further examples of this sort of thing through history though these are usually what we would call a cravat rather than a tied up tie of the sort people wear to offices, though cravat is just French for tie. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution  that the narrower tie came into being when workers developed a fashion for tying cravats in the more familiar knot at the throat style mainly to keep it secure amongst the factory machinery.  

Of course like all formal attire regular ties are uncomfortable and often impractical. There’s invariably a notice near a copier to warn against your tie getting caught in the machine but they even have it on manual shredders! Which means they expect people to push their tie into the blades deliberately. Ties are notorious for doing things like flapping about annoyingly in high winds or getting some sauce spilt on them during a meal. In recent years there’s been something of a seismic shift away from ties though. It was always said that men should wear them for office work and especially if they were in a meeting of any kind. Yet now it has been decided by whoever decides this sort of thing that it’s ok not to wear a tie at all. So long as you’re sporting the rest of what is called formal attire that is fine. This is good because a tie is something that causes a lot of useless effort.
Tying ties is one of those skills you can undertake without thinking yet if you don’t focus enough on it the underneath part will turn out longer than the top bit which is a disaster and you must not show yourself in public until it is rectified. What is less well known is that there are at least 30- yes 30-   designated ways of tying a tie. Each of these has elegant names such as the Eldrige Knot, the Fishbone Knot or the Trinity Knot and they redefine ties as a form of artistic expression. If you really, really want to know them all (and trust me you don’t) you can find them with pix and how- to- tie videos at http://www.smokingpopes.net/different-ways-to-tie-a-tie/
Ties have varied in width over the years from those Seventies brightly coloured `kipper` ties presumably so called because they were roughly the size of a decent fish to the 80s skinny ties barely wider than a pencil. Most eras settle rather sensibly for something in between. One of the hardest aspects of ties came when coloured shirts became the norm. In the past men would always just wear white shirts with which any colour or design would match but when your shirt is coloured the matching of a tie becomes trickier. As a general rule you should never wear a stripy tie with a stripy shirt. In fact it might be advisable just not to wear a stripy shirt. The most common shirt colour blue is fiendishly difficult to match because it seems to have many deceptively different hues.
Not that there is any shortage of ties out there. There is every variation of colour and design, some quite cheap but other ridiculously expensive. You can buy ties for under £20 from most high street stores but if you want to splash out it can rise beyond £100 for shiny silk ties. Anyhow all I need now is some posh event where I can wear my new bow tie. One good thing- it is already tied so at least that's something!

No comments:

Post a Comment