I know My Rites

After my recent post on going sans tie I was pressed about my desire to wear a tie. This led led me to do some reflecting. Why do I want to wear suits, sports coats, and ties?  I know that I have always liked and been interested in style but I don’t think that this is the driving factor.

What I do think is driving or at least was driving this aspiration is rite of passage. I had imagined that at some point in my life that I would be a successful adult man. I pictured myself working in a downtown office, wearing suits, and carrying a briefcase, but it seems like I missed that boat. When I entered the workforce it was a sea of business casual and casual Friday at best. I pushed forward wearing a tie albeit occasionally. As I wrote a few weeks ago this is not always best for your career. It hasn’t harmed mine yet, but I have learned when and where I can away with it.

Dressing like a business man was something that I had looked forward to happening. Similar to getting a drivers license, voting, or having your first drink is how I viewed getting to wear a tie. It was also a mark of success in my mind. It was part of my rite of passage into adulthood and I feel like I got the short end of the stick, but that’s probably a lot better than no stick at all.

I will leave you with a few thoughts (and lots of ties pictures!). Maybe the real transition was never about the clothes at all, but rather conformity? Perhaps how I feel about not getting to wear a tie is how others felt in the past when they were forced to wear a tie in the office? They hated it, but they did it because they were grown-ups.

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oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

15 Comments on "I know My Rites"

  1. Jim Haselton says:

    I understand your position, in both wanting to “dress up”, and feeling unsatsfied when doing so is not an option. Perhaps I also share your reasons for these feelings, but I’d like to suggest that a tie is a great way of adding color and visual appeal (a wow factor) to an outfit. I think a tie (as well as sweaters, sports coats, etc.) also conveys the idea that you care about your appearance. Nothing novel there, just some antiquated ideas, reminiscent of Byron Tully and The Old Money Book; this post for example: https://theoldmoneybook.com/2017/03/27/how-to-look-nice-without-really-trying/

  2. JoelVau says:

    Bravo, Jerrod. Always remember when Michael Jordan was asked why he always wore a suit and tie and he said it was because there might be some fan he encountered who would be seeing him for the first and/or only time. But he is at a level when he can set his own style and not care what others think. Just as are billionaires like Gates, who originally started this souch toward grunginess, and more recently, Zuckerberg, who, he and his ilk, pretty much gurrantee that appropriateness (as the men who read this blog see it) will never return.

  3. Grey Flannels says:

    I still believe that wearing a tie is a sign of self respect and respect for others. It also makes me feel good, and I believe that the same is true for you.

  4. Andrew says:

    Your analysis reminded me of something my father once told me. Because of various circumstances, he had a blue collar job. I was discussing career options, and he said “I don’t care what you do for a living, as long as you wear a suit.” I knew what he meant.

  5. Bill says:

    Very nice ties, Jerrod. All but one of my regimental ties have the stripes ‘pointing’ over the right shoulder. The other one points over the left shoulder. Do you know if the odd tie was made in error or is there a purpose or meaning for the direction of the stripes?

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Bill – Great question. UK stripes go from left to right and US stripes go from right to left. I hope that helps!

  7. Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke says:

    I’ll echo all of the previous commenters. Wonderful tie and shirt combos too.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

  8. Woofboxer says:

    Great tie parade there OCBD, especially the foulard and stripe shirt combo.

    As regards stripe direction: As I’m sure readers know, many of the popular repp stripe patterns are drawn from old British regimental ties or school colours. At one time, not so much nowadays, it was considered passé to wear a such a tie unless you had attended the school, or served in the regiment in question. I have read that Brook Brothers started the right to left practice to avoid coming up against these sensibilities. I have actually been asked by a colleague, who is an ex-army officer, if a Brooks tie I was wearing related to my old regiment? When I replied that I had never been a member of the armed forces the mocking response came back ‘Do you know it’s not the done thing to wear a regimental tie unless you’ve been in that regiment?’. I was able to come back at him with the information above and point out that, despite his great knowledge of ties, he had clearly not noticed that the stripes went in a different direction. Which closed him down quite nicely!

  9. Richard says:

    It’s good that you have a better understanding of why you want what you want. This describes my motives as well. We must be about the same age, because I am also old enough to have the suit and tie ingrained as a mark of maturity and success, and young enough to have arrived too late.

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    Evatt – It was not deliberate on my end, but I am sure that Lands’ End knew the origin of the stripes

  11. Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke says:

    Interesting discussion on regimental and school ties as well as the direction of the stripes. I have been aware of the controversy for some time, but was advised by a British friend that it was probably ok in most instances here in the United States to wear and enjoy such ties. To avoid sticky social situations, I would draw the line, for myself at least, at packing and wearing such ties in Europe or the U.K. where I might cross paths with British military members. And I’d never knowingly wear a school or university tie (even here at home) of an institution I had not actually attended. But that’s just me.


  12. Cortman says:

    You hit the nail on the head here sir. Dressing up for one’s job subconsciously reinforces the idea that your job and performance matter and that you are a valued member of society. The rite of passage thought is spot on.

  13. pat says:

    Ties. Wore them for 12 years of school, then took a break except for occasions for college.
    Then wore them the first 15 years of working. Then we went casual dress.

    Just took a two week crossing on a Cunard liner. I had done the 6 day crossing 15 years ago.

    Now, formal nights are formal and mainly followed, but on the other nights ties are not required just
    jackets. Considering the age of the guests, I thought there would be more ties but the were few
    and far between. Miss them.

    Someday,you might consider a QM2 crossing, think you might enjoy it. It’s an anachronism, but well done.

  14. Gamma68 says:

    “As I wrote a few weeks ago this is not always best for your career. It hasn’t harmed yet, but I have learned when and where I can away with it.”

    It’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which wearing a neck tie would be detrimental to one’s career. (Unless the person works in factory-type of setting where the tie might get caught up in the machinery. In that case, wearing a tie is detrimental to one’s life!)

    In an office setting, what harm is there in looking like a polished professional? Unless you would be showing up the tie-less boss by wearing one. In that case, shame on the boss.

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