Spotlight: The 300-year reign of the tie may be drawing to a close

For most of my working life, the routine of putting on and taking off my tie bookended my day. In the morning, doing up my tie and checking the Windsor or schoolboy knot in the mirror signified the beginning of my workday. At night, after undoing my tie and hanging it up beside approximately a dozen others, my day was over. Closing the wardrobe door was my ritual circuit-breaker: I shut off any work issues still playing on my mind.

Over the past two or three years, however, I’ve joined hundreds of thousands of other Australian men in giving up wearing ties, in line with much more casual dress codes in the workplace. All the signs indicate that the 300-year reign of the tie may be drawing to a close; there are even predictions it will be dead within 20 years.

Ties are becoming less necessary, thanks to changing workplace dress codes.

Ties are becoming less necessary, thanks to changing workplace dress codes.Credit:Getty Images

What began with the growing popularity of casual Fridays in the 1990s accelerated with the rise of tech start-ups and multinational behemoths such as Google, Facebook and Amazon ushering in far less formal workplaces. Companies such as Google may be housed in multimillion-dollar glass-and-steel citadels on prime city real estate, but more often than not you’ll see its male employees dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and in summer, shorts and sandals. On television, more and more newsreaders and reporters wear open-necked shirts.

Ties are still worn for formal occasions, of course – weddings, funerals, job interviews or high-level meetings – and they remain common in more conservative fields such as real estate, banking and finance, and some sections of law. But overall, from Wall Street to the runways of Milan, the question that’s being increasingly asked is, “Do I need a tie for this?”

Here’s one thing I do miss in these tie-less days, though: that brief morning deliberation over which one to wear. Skinny or wide? Plain or patterned? Since the days of the man in the grey flannel suit, we male office workers have been limited in our sartorial options. The humble tie was the first fashion accessory for blokes, a chance to introduce a splash of colour and fun into our day.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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