| Ties aren't only silly but harmful
I am increasingly opposed to the silly cultural tradition that
dictates that men wear ties around their necks to indicate proper
Who is to say that wearing a coat and tie makes a man look better
than an open-neck shirt with sweater and slacks? In fact, I would
argue that often it is the reverse, especially given the incredibly
bad taste many men have in coats and ties.
Wearing a drab coat and tie that has been in the family for a decade
often seems the antithesis of fashion and inspires men who are required
to wear them by their employers to be more out of touch with fashion
than they would otherwise be. When work is over, you will often'
see these same drab men sitting around the house in dirty T-shirts,
cut-off jeans and gym shoes, as if they build up a burning need
to wear the worst thing they can think of as soon as they get out
of the office. Their fastidious employers would be shocked.
And if they have to go anywhere else, they immediately don the
reliable coat and tie as their badge of respectability. I think
that if most men could dress more comfortably at work they would
not feel the need to dress deplorably at home.
Doctors, lawyers, businessmen, accountants, salesmen, college professors
and newspaper editors, would be just as credible in a nice sweater
and slacks combination as in a coat and tie. A tie invariably chokes
any man who wears it, and most men worth their salt on the job will
quickly loosen it, giving the impression of greater comfort and
The question is, if you go to work and immediately loosen the tie,
why wear it in the first place?
For those who hate conformity, ties present the perfect symbol
to rebel against. I had a friend in high school who developed a
reputation for refusing to wear ties at absolutely any event, no
matter how important. He took the reputation throughout life, and
amazingly enough, has succeeded financially, socially and culturally
without ever bowing to the conformity of the necktie.
My views are supported by some reliable evidence. Psychology Today
magazine did a study of neckties in the workplace and found that
wearing a tight shirt collar and tie can interfere with perceptual
skills by hampering the flow of blood to the brain and to sensory
organs like the eyes.
Not only that, the resulting slowdown in perceptual response can
persist for a while after the collar and tie are loosened. So, if
you wear a tie to work, you may be a few bricks short of a full
load. This is no joke, because a slowdown in perceptual skills can
affect job performance, and that can be important if you're a bullfighter
or a bus driver.
To measure the potential problem, researchers set up a visual discrimination
test for a group of lawyers and businessmen, most of whom were wearing
collars and ties that were too tight. The participants were confronted
by light that blinked with increasing rapidity and asked to press
a button when the flashes became so rapid they appeared to be a
Reactions were compared with another group of tieless men whose
shirts were open at the collar. Sure enough, the tight neckwear
significantly reduced response time.
The researchers suggested that such a loss of visual perception
can harm performance for computer operators, airplane pilots and
a host of others whose findings also hold implications for a variety
of other sensory and cognitive functions necessary in the workplace.
Dressing for success, in short, could help make you a failure!
Now I would add that in spite of all these convincing arguments,
sometimes I like to wear a necktie. I just get up some mornings
and feel in the mood to be choked, to move a little more slowly,
and sustain a smaller blood flow to the brain. For some reason,
I just don't feel as productive, and I want my eyes to move more
slowly across the computer screen, and a necktie is the perfect
And what the heck? It adds a little variety to my dress. It also
shocks people who think they can predict how I'll be dressed.
So don't be surprised if you see me occasionally in a necktie -
even an ugly Christmas one - but don't expect me to be at my best.
By Dennis Lythgoe - Deseret News January 26, 1990