I have to dress smartly for work. Not in a suit—well not often. Not in a jacket (a coat for American readers) most of the time. Not even a tie is required. But I must wear a shirt, smart trousers and shoes. Yet, although a tie is not required, I choose to wear one almost every day. Why? Because it’s one of the few fashion statements that a man of a certain age can make. I suppose I’m an oddity in that I love ties and am the owner of an extensive collection. Ties are something almost visceral for me. On seeing one, my reaction is immediate, no thought required. I either like it, meaning that I’ll buy it right then and there or I don’t. No amount of consideration or thought will change my mind. The closest thing to this that I can think of is human attraction. Either I find you sexually attractive or I don’t. Period. No thought required—it’s a completely gut reaction. It’s the same with a tie.

What kind of tie do I like. It’s almost impossible to generalise. One of my all time favourites is a reproduction of a Kandinsky painting. A bold, abstract design that is truly eye-catching. When I wear it I almost always receive complements. “It’s a Kandinsky,” I’m quick to point out, proud of my knowledge and good taste. But alas, no more for of course I’ve worn it out and a replacement is nowhere to be found.

My advice to anyone contemplating buying a tie is buy two. If you like it, buy two. You will wear it out. If you don’t you should never have bought it in the first place. And by the time you do, they won’t be making your beloved accessory any more. So buy two and double its life. How many of my ties have met their demise this way? I’ve lost count. If only I could have my time over again…sigh!

So what I am trying to say, men of a certain age—and actually men everywhere—don’t wait for your employer to insist on your wearing a tie. Take the initiative. Make a bold fashion statement. And savour those compliments, for come they surely will.

By Paul Ellison

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