The House of Commons isn’t one of the first places you’d expect to see a ‘dress down day’ or where you’d witness one of its honourable members sporting an open neck-shirt and rolled up sleeves. Yet the Commons’ traditionally stuffy image, where clerks previously wore powdered wigs and its guards carry swords, may be a thing of the past as earlier this year Speaker John Bercow decreed that our MPs need no longer wear neck ties.
This issue split the Commons (like most issues do) with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the finest purveyors of the double breasted jacket and exquisitely tied half-Windsor, in uproar. On the other side were the likes of Jeremy Corbyn who, prior to his election as Labour leader, showed a distinct contempt for formal neck wear and as a result was famously lectured by David Cameron to “put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.”
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘so what?’ Some might say the clothes don’t make the man or indeed woman. But in politics, as in other walks of life, your look is often your strongest advertisement.
Think how many times you’ve wished you could reach into the TV and fix someone’s tie or collar (is this just me? Surely not!) and you’ll understand that we still live in a society which still judges people based on their appearance.
If you’re still not convinced then think whether you’d turn up at a funeral without an appropriately sombre tie. Better safe than sorry, so why risk sending signals of disrespect in formal situations simply to increase your own comfort by a fraction?
Yet while the neck tie remains an essential part of most gents’ wardrobes, its influence is undoubtedly waning.
Many companies now tell staff that they no longer have to wear suits in the office and the new norm is the ‘office casual’ look. Jeans, chinos, shorts and t-shirt, almost anything goes in some offices.
But has this all gone a little too far and what has the poor neck tie done to deserve such disdain? For me there’s no more impressive sartorial statement than a well-fitting suit and a well-proportioned and knotted neck tie. And whilst it may not be the most comfortable of outfits, the satisfaction derived from popping open the top button and loosening a tie at the end of a tough day somehow makes the whole palaver worthwhile.
But the death of the neck tie is not an issue which is only related to politics or the office. Indeed after doing some research for this blog I’m reliably informed that the big fashion houses are now moving away from the traditional suit and tie image. Now seen as functionless and a nuisance, the tie has been ditched – would you believe – in favour of sports coat and jogging trousers.
Whilst we may be on course for jogging trousers to be acceptable workwear, I’d beseech you when next contemplating a new work outfit to consider who you might take more seriously – the immaculately turned out suit and tie wearer, or the unkempt shirt wearer with the rolled up sleeves and jogging trousers on.
I know where my money is going.
Colin McFarlane is always immaculately dressed and is a Senior Account Manager at Indigo