Retailers specializing in men's tailored clothing continue to sell ties to their clientele, despite the fact that the argument about ties rages on.

Retailers specializing in men’s tailored clothing continue to sell ties to their clientele, despite the fact that the argument about ties rages on.

It’s very peculiar, but I’m hearing lots of chatter about men’s ties these days.  Are they in?  Are they out?  It may depend on who you ask, or what you personally believe.  But one thing is definitely true:  the argument about ties rages on.  Quite frankly, I think this argument is about far more than just neckwear.  I believe this is about regional differences.  So whether you’re a man who would never wear a tie, or a woman who doesn’t think this argument is of any concern to you, I suggest that you read on.

First, to most, including me, I really don’t think it’s a huge controversy.  It’s not an ideological argument like left and right politics.  But, among those in the very opinionated image profession, it is an argument that can be as polarizing as politics.  Here’s where I stand.  I’m generally one of the only people in the image profession that sees this issue in both regional and global contexts.  It also makes me a virtual lone voice.

It’s very curious why the argument about ties rages on.  Walk into any store that sells tailored clothes for men, and you will find ties.  Clearly, the neckwear industry is cranking along.  But more than ever, the need and use for ties among professional men is becoming more clear and distinct.

Some of the arguments made in favor of wearing ties are, ahem, a bit strangulating.

Argument 1:  Women love to see a man in a suit and tie because he looks handsomer and sexier.

In business, it is not necessarily a man’s desire to look handsome and sexy for women [or for other men, for that matter].  Men are tribal by nature, and generally like to fit in with the men they work with.  If a group of men in a work group aren’t typically wearing suits and ties, this statement adds to the reasons why the argument about ties rages on.

Argument 2:  Wear a tie if you want to signal that you are a serious professional.

Certain professions simply require a tie.  Can you imagine a male judge without a tie, or our President showing up to work without wearing one?  I feel the same way about men in high-level sales, and other professions.  But, for example, my CPA does not wear a tie to the office.  I don’t see him as being “less serious” because he doesn’t wear a tie.  Besides, his not wearing a tie has not resulted in my being audited.  The worth of his work is what matters.  As for his appearance, I do care that he looks stylish and pulled together.  It symbolizes that he pays attention to detail, and that is a trait necessary for a CPA.

Interestingly enough, my CPA is also involved in local politics and government.  When he’s in that role and out in public during certain circumstances such as city council meetings, he wears a suit and tie.  It makes sense in this case.  He is taken seriously.  But he dresses this way to convey to others that he takes his constituents seriously.  The argument about ties rages on because one answer does not fit all people any more than one answer always works for just one person.

Mark Zuckerberg wore an [ill-fitting] black suit [worn improperly], with an unbuttoned at the collar [and oversized] dress shirt, with [messily knotted] tie, to a meeting with South Korea's president to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the world's largest social networking service and the world's biggest technology manufacturer. It was good to see that he suited up, but this just goes to show that the devil is in the details, and Zuckerberg failed to measure up to the moment.

Mark Zuckerberg wore an [ill-fitting] black suit [worn improperly], with an unbuttoned at the collar [and oversized] dress shirt, with [messily knotted] tie, to a meeting with South Korea’s president to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the world’s largest social networking service and the world’s biggest technology manufacturer. It was good to see that he suited up, but this just goes to show that the devil is in the details, and Zuckerberg failed to measure up to the moment.

Argument 3:  A lot of industries have given in to employees and don’t require professional attire.

This is cringe worthy, living in Silicon Valley, where many businesses that have transformed our modern economy were created with no regard for formality, I have to question the currency of a person who makes such a claim.  Regional differences and personal feelings about the socio-economic symbolism of neckwear add fuel to the argument about ties and their importance.  Do you think that Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg ever said, “If we wear ties, we’ll all design better products, be more successful, and make more money?”  Hell no!

Still, I love ties and fervently believe that there is a time and a place for every man to wear a tie.  It may only be a few times in a man’s life, or it may be a few times per week.  We live in an era where the ‘rules’ are becoming highly personalized.  Everyone should look their very best in accordance with their work and social culture.  This can definitely be done without a tie, if that is what is best.

How many times do I have to hear that Silicon Valley is ‘non-conformist?’ But there is Silicon Beach, Silicon Prairie, and Silicon Alley… So many parts of the country are now focused on technology businesses.  So Silicon Valley is no longer such a non-conformist place.  Our values – for better or for worse – are spreading around the world.

When another image colleague suggests to all her clients interviewing in the information technology field to wear a French blue shirt, dark trousers, and a tie to an interview, I am certain that she just doesn’t get it.  Instead of everyone looking uniform in a suit and tie, she’s fabricating a look that is uniform for all those who follow her advice.  It’s a uniform!

The argument about ties doesn’t have to rage on for another moment.  You can make an incredibly powerful statement about yourself by selecting excellent clothing that reveals your true self to others.  That is far more powerful than just relying on a power tie.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform their self-confidence by improving their personal style.  Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “7 Ways to Transform Your Personal Style”.