The more corporate “head and shoulder” shots that I capture, the more conscious I become of the growing movement away from the tie.
While seemingly imparting no practical function except to keep one’s neck warm, the necktie was traditionally associated with power, financial success, and being seen as being a part of that elite group called “The Establishment”. So when did its demise begin and, more importantly, has the necktie as an integral part of the corporate male’s wardrobe finally died?
Let’s take a look back at its origins. Adopted by soldiers after the fall of the Roman Empire, a delegation of Croats wearing cravats caught the eye of King Louis XIV, who subsequently introduced the wearing of the cravat à la croate to the Parisian court. The cravat underwent a change in Queen Victoria’s Britain when the ‘Four-in-Hand’ long necktie was introduced. Coined by members of the elite Gentlemen’s Club of the same name (established in 1856), the club’s comrades were known for tying their ties in the same manner that their carriage driver would tie the reins for their horses, thus becoming a mark of distinction and class.
Fast forward to the late 1990s with the Internet gold rush, when hundreds of “Dot com” companies were started. The messiahs of the 90s were young and brash with a preference for hoodies over knots. Suddenly, the business tie was viewed as “stiff” and formal and the demand for it nose dived.
While the Dot com bubble may well have burst, the no-tie trend continued. “Casual Friday” turned into “Casual Everyday”, with 55 per cent of professionals, from real estate agents and investment bankers to politicians, leaving their ties at home. House of Commons speaker John Bercow has decreed that MPs need no longer wear ties in the House. More famously, Barack Obama ditched the tie under his charcoal grey suit in his first speech since leaving office at the University of Chicago. Twitter went into meltdown as supporters tweeted their approval. The choice not to wear a tie is, in itself, a power move that says, “I can wear what I want.”
The question on every man’s lips, therefore, is: “Is the Tie Dead.” Not necessarily. However, it’s symbolism has changed dramatically. From a representation of passage into manhood and mark of belonging to an “old boys club”, the necktie has evolved into a fashion accessory that injects personality and individuality into one’s look. With a plethora of choices being worn in a multitude of ways, there will always be the core group of followers who will keep the tie alive and wear it by choice and not obligation. Long Live the tie!
About Victoria Ugarte: A Sydney-based photographer, Victoria Ugarte’s previous career was in the Australian fashion industry. Spanning 25 years, her areas of expertise included range & studio coordinator to buyer and fashion agent. While she enjoys beautiful landscapes and travel photography, her true passion is capturing the beauty and complexity of the human spirit in environmental portraiture.
"To experience the world through the heart not only awakens what's best in ourselves but inspires others to do the same. It is then that we realise how beautiful life can be."- Victoria Ugarte© Copyright 2020 Victoria Ugarte