What’s with the tieless look?


s I noted earlier, the masculine equivalent of Sarah Palin’s specs and tied-up hair is to wear a coat and tie. The effect in both cases is to project seriousness of purpose.

So what are we to make of the fact that, all of a sudden, the male candidates for president and vice president are, quite deliberately, showing themselves in public without neckties?I don’t mean as a sort of occasional thing for a barbecue, but all the time. And don’t try to tell me this is just happening without somebody thinking about it; campaigns think about everything these days, as Peggy Noonan noted the other day (writing about Obama’s acceptance speech, the last time he was seen wearing a tie).

This has been coming for some time. As far back as 2006, Joe Biden was regularly appearing here in S.C. with a jacket, but no tie… sort of the Paul-McCartney-on-the-cover-of-Abbey-Road look. Here’s proof of that.

Then, I started noticing Obama doing the same. And McCain, too. And Huckabee and even Romney.

Here’s what worries me about this… those of you who are old enough to remember will recall how JFK killed men’s hats. There are some authorities that dispute it, but then there are many who believe Oswald didn’t act alone. Suffice it to say that before JFK, men wore hats. Afterwards, they didn’t.

Obama could do the same with the necktie. Biden and McCain aren’t so much of a threat, because when they go tieless, they just look like they’re been playing with their grandchildren and didn’t want them chewing on their ties. They don’t look natural that way.

But there’s been altogether too much loose talk about Obama’s charisma. No less an authority than Ted Sorensen has sat in my board room and pronounced Obama the rightful heir to Camelot. He’s already known as The One. How long can it be before he’s dubbed The Tieless One? (Note the picture above — while Biden just looks like he’s on his way to play golf, Obama is making that "early-60s, Best-and-Brightest" statement again with the white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up).

So, if the necktie industry, moribund as it is, wants to save itself, it had better do what it can to elect McCain. Because if Obama’s elected, every day will be casual Friday.

Or at least, he would get the "credit." The fact is that, as I have noted twice in recent columns, Gallup has found that only 6 percent of American men wear a tie to work every day. I, of course, am of the 6 percent, and am determined to wear the thing every day until I retire. I mean, I have to now — it’s a statement. Before, it was conformity. Now, it’s a statement of adherence to traditional values and seriousness of purpose. I’ll have you know that I bought on of the last bow ties at Lourie’s — in fact, it may have been the last bow tie they actually sold.

I also still have a Wilson Jack Kramer Autograph wooden tennis racket, although I don’t use it any more. I do use my old persimmon 4 wood, though. When I’m hitting it right, it’s the best club in my bag; the ball flies like a rifle shot. Which reminds me, I’m not working today…

20 thoughts on “What’s with the tieless look?

  1. george32

    the relentless attention to the superficial continues. i assume this entry was a tribute to the concept of not working on labor day.

  2. Karen McLeod

    “A statement of adherence to traditional values”?? I could have sworn it was the masculine act of worshipful genuflection to the terrible god of “social convention.” When it comes to clothing this god wreaks terrible physical discomfort on its suppliants (we women get to wear high heels). It is a god who cares not about reasonable indoor temperatures, nor is it interested in ensuring that its mandates reflect any positive, functional use. Worship it at your own risk, Brad!

  3. faust

    Brad, you must be ecstatic to see that Karen is taking this string seriously. I wonder if she, Bud and Doug constitute an audience that can keep the newspaper afloat?
    I mentioned bud and Doug because they seemed to like it when you started picking on a girl who isn’t here to defend herself. Heaven only knows what the attraction is for Karen.
    Maybe she likes it when manly newspaper editors get all macho and call women they disagree with politically ‘babe.’
    Doesn’t do much for me. I expect it doesn’t do much for a lot of erstwhile newspaper patrons either.
    You wanna bet?

  4. Herb Brasher

    Am I wrong that in John Adam’s day, men wore wigs to show the seriousness of their work? Somehow that changed along the way as well. Maybe you would want to go back to it (it sure would serve my bald head well), but it obviously isn’t going to happen.
    Outward appearances begin to change at some point, because they do not say the same thing to a younger generation that they did to ours. I don’t think anybody at church is thinking, “this tie shows that I take worship seriously” — they were wearing the things because that’s what we do on Sunday.
    Well, we just spent the evening with a German couple who visited our church yesterday and said, “when we were here last year, all the men were wearing ties, and all of a sudden, nobody is wearing one!” Part of a trend–maybe–but if it is, it is biblical. You see, there is this verse tucked away in Ezekiel that says that the priest is not supposed to wear anything that would make him perspire.
    So it must be a good move.

  5. Herb Brasher

    On the other hand, I know of a pastor who wore a tie even when out mowing his grass, because, well, he wanted to look like a pastor.
    The rest of us just think he looks crazy.

  6. Karen McLeod

    Faust, have you thought of ‘fun’ as a motive?
    Herb, In one of the versions (Kings? Chronicles?) David danced naked before the Lord. They got him more PC by the next version (which would make it probably Chronicles unless I’m remembering from Samuel). At any rate, y’all, give it a breaK!

  7. Jackie

    Hey Brad,
    Gallup suggests that men are leaning away from ties in the workplace.
    “Nationwide, only 6 percent of men reported wearing a tie to work every day in 2007, down from 10 percent six years ago. Those who reported never wearing a tie to work increased from 59 percent to 67 percent over the same period.”
    I wouldn’t worry until you see Barack or McCain in dress shorts.
    Full article here: http://tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/article607494.ece.

  8. Lee Muller

    Biden is trying to look like a working man instead of a Beltway insider.
    Obama is trying to look like an American.
    Obama is not even a US citizen. He will be off the ticket, with Biden and Hillary running by October.

  9. bud

    I among the group of 10% that wore a tie to work 6 years ago but I don’t wear one now; I gave it up about a year ago. I would guess the 6% figure is about right where I work. I was stubborn about it but in the end it just looked ridiculous wearing a tie. Time to give it up Brad. The only statment you’re making is to look out of step with the times. Times are changing and the tie just doesn’t make sense anymore, if it ever really did.

  10. James D McCallister

    I think whomever is elected president should be required to dress like the Monopoly Man: Spats, a top hat, a monocle…a return, in other words, to sane and dignified fashion decorum befitting the supreme commander of the world’s great hegemonic power.

  11. William

    If the tie looks good then wear it! If the clothes look better without the tie then don’t wear it! I was at a Senate and a House subcommittee meeting 2 weeks ago and I was the only person without a sports coat. Oh yeah it was 97 degrees out! Talk about dedication to social whatever that guy said!!

  12. Brad Warthen

    James D. is onto something…
    Personally, I think we should return to the convention of black tie in the evening. It wouldn’t help women much, but it would simplify life greatly for guys.

  13. Lee Muller

    It’s easy to pick out the executives these days; they wear coats and ties.
    A lot of Cary Grant’s charm was due to his tailor.

  14. bud

    Brad, you would be right at home at the GOP convention. Most of the men were wearing ties. Practically everyone was caucasian, including all the speakers that I saw (Bush, Thompson, Lieberman and a few others that I didn’t know). This really has become the party of well-healed country club elitists. They would have fit right in at the Summit Club.

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