Stop me if you’ve heard this one before–what did the shirt say to the tie? “You’re antiquated and do not belong in a professional setting nearly as much as gatekeeping elitists think you do.” Classic.
On June 27, 2019, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang stood on stage in Miami, Florida, for the first Democratic debate of the 2020 Election. He stood there without a tie. The move provoked the ire of Brian Williams and led to the ascension of Yang’s missing tie to meme-status. It fascinated me that an act as seemingly benign as eschewing a necktie could elicit such an intense response. As Americans, are ties an indispensable facet of our professional discourse? Can we simply not function without them? I would say no. In fact, I would argue that the age of the required necktie should come to a close.
The internet is awash with clips of good samaritans aiding Millenials and members Gen-Z tie ties. Most people describe these videos as heart warming–or they say something like, “this restores my faith in humanity,” but to me, these videos reveal a more serious truth: The de facto requirement of neckties is another layer of unnecessary gatekeeping that disincentivizes both young and lower-class people in particular from participating in professional and formal settings. The simple fact of the matter is that one can dress professionally without the added complexity of a necktie hanging them up (no pun intended).
It was refreshing to see Andrew Yang appear on a stage in front of millions of Americans with the implicit message, “You do not need a tie to be taken seriously.” When Yang visited then-President Barack Obama in the White House he arrived without a tie. One of Obama’s staffers removed his tie and gave it to Yang to wear, which he did. It seems ridiculous that Obama would be offended by Yang’s lack of a tie, but Westerners, Americans in particular, seemed to have it ingrained in their psyche that not wearing a tie is somehow unprofessional.
For my woke readers out there, I will present another argument for why you ought not to wear a necktie. You may not know this, but neckties are successors of the cravat–an ascot-like neckband that was the height of fashion in Europe some three hundred years ago. The word “cravat” is actually a bastardization of the Croatian word for Croat, “Hrvat.” The Hrvats were a Croatian mercenary troop hired by the French emperor as auxiliary soldiers. So, by wearing a necktie, what you’re really doing is appropriating Croatian Mercenary Culture. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Unlike Americans, Iranians typically do not wear neckties. Sure, there are those out there who will tell you that they do this symbolically to show that they are throwing off their perceived oppression by the west. Some will even tell you that there is a nationwide ban on the accessory because it is deemed “unIslamic.” But I’ll tell you the truth–Iranians have figured out the neckties are just confusing bullshit that should have been left to Croatian mercenaries, not a 22 year old car salesman dependent on his commission to keep the lights on.
I look at neckties the same way I look at wristwatches, or cufflinks, or any other accessory. Yes, they can look nice, but they are by no means required to look professional. Just look at billionaire Mark Cuban–unless you google, “Mark Cuban necktie,” you probably will have a difficult time finding a picture of Mark Cuban in a necktie. Even when you do google “Mark Cuban necktie,” you’re greeted with more photos of him without a necktie. This is all to say that ties are not earmarks for professionalism and success. They are overly complicated pieces of fabric stuck out of time, and thrust upon western men of all walks of life; from the lowly interns navigating coffee orders to the stock broker doing line equations with his fellow dude-bros, every man will find himself in a situation where he is required to look in the mirror and don a tie.
Indeed, it is time to close the door on this accessory. Maybe, even slam it.
Benjamin Kahn is a senior writer at the UB Post. He writes a weekly column, KahnJunction.