The tie is a marvelous bit of tailored fabric that serves absolutely no purpose. So why are designers so thoroughly obsessed with mitigating its visual presence into that of a thin sliver? The skinny tie exists because thin lapelled suits exist. The lapel is that bit of fabric on a suit that folds and drapes over the chest. In theory, the widest point of a tie should equal the widest point of a lapel. This rule only exists because when a tie and lapel are mismatched, the designer of the suit appears to lack the ability to coordinate an outfit. Having your tie measure within a quarter inch of your lapel gives your suit a refined look and is the closest thing to getting a proper “fit” out of a tie, given the tie’s nature as a one-size-fits-most garment.
Trends and proportional adjustments to neckwear aside, the tie is a flamboyant work of art that exists for the purpose of personalization. Back before business demanded slate and navy people had tastefully different ties for the purpose of communicating personality. The fellow with the maroon striped tie might be a Fordham alumnus and the guy with the dark blue and purple scarf pattern paisley tie might be an eccentric devotee to Picasso’s blue period works. The tie helped your family to pick you out of a crowd when everyone had the same haircut, suit, car and cigarette addiction. The necktie was like a colorful corporate dog tag.
With recent suiting trends, this has become less of an issue. A brisk walk through Greenwich, Connecticut will instantly reveal that people have far fewer issues with self-customization. Modern sensibilities regarding individuality and Orwellian phobia have largely ensured that one’s personal wardrobe shall reward the strange, exciting and new, while punishing the dull and musty. It is for these very reasons that ties are probably better now than they have ever been in the past. Ties are great because far fewer people are required to wear them. Showing up with a torso draping silk neck squeezer to work is a statement of individuality when everyone wears a cotton poly tee shirt and Chuck Taylor’s to creative meetings.
Still, if you do not like ties and are not required to wear them for your line of work, do not wear a tie. A large part of looking good is appearing comfortable. So if you feel as though the necktie only exists to block your arteries and if the very act of cinching a knot around your throat conjures paranoia about strangulation, do not apply. Also, if you are a mechanic, do not wear a tie because it will get sucked into a fan belt. It’s just not worth the risk.