Off subject … On neckwear

I didn’t learn to tie my own necktie until I was a 23-year-old graduate student. Dad had tried teaching me a few times, but those were far from being idyllic father/son bonding moments. I did have a clip-on tie for the occasional extra-special event but I think that disappeared when I was about 12.

When I started my professional career, the office “dress code” was that the men wore ties four days a week. The half-Windsor knot had become second nature, and my collection of ties was quite trendy (though in retrospect, looking at some of my choices, I wonder what trend I was following).

Over time, I started omitting my tie on days other than “casual Friday,” and shortly, others in the office were doing the same. It got to the point where if someone wore tie to the office, whispers ensued if the tie-wearer was interviewing for another job and concerns were expressed that tie-wearing was going to become required again.

The trend in our office matched what was going on in other offices as men dropped their ties and left the top button of their shirts open. Tie-wearing at professional events also became less common.

Learning to tie one’s own necktie is a life skill that can be overwhelming but once mastered is not often forgotten, much like riding a bicycle.

In conversations with the middle school boys I mentored at church, some had mastered the skill (usually those on sports teams that were required to “dress up” on game days) while others would just have their fathers tie a tie and would loosen it enough to slip it on and off over their heads (note that leaving a tie tied is bad for the tie).

I rarely wear a tie anymore, but I have mastered additional knots beyond the simple half-Windsor as well as bowties.