General Question

ilvorangeiceblocks's avatar

Is there a real purpose for neckties?

Asked by ilvorangeiceblocks (865points) April 29th, 2011

I’ve read wikipedia and it appears to me that there is no real purpose for men to wear neckties nowadays. Was there a purpose back in the day for neckties to be worn?

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11 Answers

anartist's avatar

Yes. Present purpose is to send subtle code. That “old school tie” is not just a play on words.

Way back when, when ties were cravats [which they still may be at Ascot] they kept the neck warm, and like their predecessor, the ruff, could be used to hide dirty shirts and serve as an every ready napkin. Gawd ain’t men gross.

But Think of Queen Elizabeth I and her enormous ruff in all her pix—how dirty was that? UGH.

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YoBob's avatar

@anartist is quite correct. The purpose of the neck tie is to send the non-verbal queue that you are in a position of authority and deserve respect.

As I understand it, the origin of the neck tie goes all the way back to the Roman orators who would wear brightly colored strips of cloth around their necks to “protect their voices”. However, the real purpose was to advertise their position in Roman society.

dabbler's avatar

Also stench control. Folks didn’t bathe so often and the cravat was perfumed and around the neck to intercept the body odors wafting up and out from the shirt they guy’s been wearing for the past month or so.

anartist's avatar

To refine the present-day tie issue—the “old boy” message, rather than the “good ole boy” message. Subtle assertion of membership in the power elite.

e.g. School colors and the alumnus tie
There are several variants of school colors associated with Phillips Exeter Academy that range from crimson red and white to burgundy red and silver. The official school colors are lively maroon and grey. The traditional school tie is a burgundy red tie with alternating diagonal silver stripes and silver lions rampant.

Dartmouth green and white, Princeton orange and black. etc etc


Wearing neckties is a must in my line of work, because they denote a look of “professionalism” and “neatness”. I like wearing neckties. Some people whine and complain about how uncomfortable they are, but they really aren’t once you get used to them. An elegant necktie can make almost any man look “sharp”, provided that he’s wearing the right shirt and pants to go along with it.

All in all, neckties do serve a good purpose. They “dress up” a guy. I don’t know why some people think that wearing a necktie is a “stuffy” thing. I don’t see that at all. On the contrary, it makes a guy look respectable and adds to a look of “self-respect”. Almost every man used to wear suits and neckties back in the 1950s and early 1960s. Unfortunately these days, a lot of guys are just too damn lazy and neglectful to care how they look. Sad.

And what I find silly are guys who make an effort to put on a nice shirt, suit, and tie, but neglect to comb their hair or shave. They slip on a tie, but do not “knot it” all the way up. I mean, if you’re going to wear nice clothes, at least finish the job and comb your bloody hair and clean up that face, instead of looking like a “half-done slob”! Lol.

mazingerz88's avatar

Since all the good answers have been given it seems, I’ll just add a bit of odd whimsical personal observation…that a necktie’s purpose is for a woman to pull on it to get a man’s lips to hers or a man to pull on it as well as a prelude to punching another man’s face, especially if the man who threw the punch is the husband of the woman who just pulled on that man’s tie for that kiss

dabbler's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES you’re right that the shirt/tie can dress up a guy. It’s quite a phenomenon that just about any guy looks good with a “sharp” outfit especially with the tie and jacket. It’s a great equalizer for guys who would otherwise look plain or distractingly unattractive. If you have the outfit you’re “ready” for some kinds of work.
And agreed too why bother with the tie and jacket if you’re going to wear it dishevelled, that just looks clownish.
On the other hand I never got used to wearing ties an quit as soon as they were no longer the norm in my line of work. When I did wear ties my consolation was that I’d get solid colored ties and paint them myself, usually airbrush. My design goal was to make ties that would not stand out as peculiar but when you got close you could tell they were not ordinary. That was fun! Now they come out for weddings, christenings and funerals.


@dabbler you’re right——never loud neckties! and never neckties that are too wide or fat. I like ties with simple, classic patterns, or solid colored ones, and always ties that are on the “narrower” side——2 and a half to 3 inches wide is the maximum width for me. The 1970s really ruined the look of the necktie for men, as well as most other apparel. lol

dabbler's avatar

@silky1 that’s a great link.
Although, I’d say the places I’ve worked worked where men were compelled to wear a tie the half Windsor was appropriate and the full Windsor pretentious.
That certainly wasn’t a law firm though. From what I hear in top law firms partners (and potential partners!) would be expected to look like people who don’t miss a detail no matter how innocuous or mundane. On the other hand, my legal buddies look sharper at work than I do.
Whatever that ‘clothes make the man’ mojo is, it sure seems to influence the power dynamic among folk. And the tie remains a staple power tool in many contexts.

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