Wearing a tie out of choice can provoke some interesting commentary. People tend to nod approvingly, make pleasant-but-commonplace remarks about smartness and pay the neckwear more attention than it deserves, but importantly they place so much consequence on its appearance in an environment in which it is entirely unnecessary, much as an open neck wing-collar would attract attention at a Viennese ball, that they chain you to your choice from the very beginning: “I haven’t ever seen Winston without a tie” they beam, as though contemplating some natural wonder “You’d always wear a tie, right? I mean, you must wear a tie?”
Well, no. I don’t wake each bright morning thinking that the attachment of neckwear to my collar is of the highest importance. Nor do I wear one as a rebellious nose-thumbing to the dying popularity of the accessory; men who believe in ‘standards’ without an appreciation of the aesthetics are no allies of mine. The answer is simple; I wear one because I feel like it. I feel like adding that dash of colour, that swirl of silk to an otherwise lifeless ensemble. That I feel like doing that nine days out of ten is merely a reflection of the fact that I am fortunate, and sufficiently confident, to be able to do what I like doing.
When I don’t wear a tie, it is also a choice; my tie wardrobe is not on strike, my house has not burned down and I have not sold off my cherished strips of silk as I feel a “change coming on.” I am still resolutely a tie man; calling it a “day off” is pejorative as it suggests my daily tying routine is a chore, but it is a pleasant enough change. The question is; how does my appreciation for aesthetics and colour, my preference for maximalism sit with such a choice? In other words, how do I not wear my ties?
No suit, no tie
Ties tend to be associated with the workplace. Many a gentleman have cherished that soothing moment of release when he returns from the office, removes his shoes and unties his tie. Recently, some men have contradicted the formality of a suit by removing the tie and unbuttoning an additional button, a la Tom Ford and Simon Cowell. Personally, I don’t see that this ‘look’ works; the tie is expected, and it isn’t there. It doesn’t look like you never put a tie on, it looks like you have just taken one off; a state of ‘undress’, rather than of ‘dress.’ If I am pulling a suit from the wardrobe, a tie is always coming with it.
Let your pocket square be your tie
Going tieless is the perfect opportunity for grandiose pocket squares. Whether brightly coloured or prettily patterned, they have a golden opportunity to shine in the absence of neckwear. Dashes of colour add spice and interest to otherwise commonplace outfits and when a tie is not selected to perform that function, the noble pocket square steps up.