Down With The Tyranny Of The Necktie

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I write today to suggest that those of you who are young and have a interest in making practical future decisions about tailored clothing might keep your eyes on what appears to be a developing new Tumblr series by #Menswear eCelebrity Graeme W., the man behind the bicycling, dining out, and monogamous dating blog (okay, bRog) Most ExeRent.

If you have been around for a while, you will remember Graeme as one of the first two men (the other being Matt F., the dude behind the Rip Van Winkle-ly-active blog Tweed in the City) who instantiated the third wave of “classic” menswear clothing forum selfies.

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That third wave had two attributesgood cameras and basic photographic techniques—and after its emergence, there was really no going back to the old days, for good or ill.

So, what’s the scoop?

In the cultures for which the coat and tie look was once the pervasive marker of masculine purpose, belonging, and mutual respect, there is no doubt that we continue to slide down the hole opened up by the Hippie Revolution.

The generational warfare in the 1960s against The Man and all the stuffy “straights” in their strangling neckties and constricting suits has served as the framework on which other forces have found common support in creating the current generation of male slobs. These forces range from developments as varied as rise of climate-controled work cubicles, cars, and shopping malls, to the corporate plutocracy’s exploitation of the potential of making ever cheaper clothes in developing countries, to the overall upending or erosion of some social conventions.

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The result? The necktie is no longer the tyrant. The hippies have won. Every man is dressed in a cheap knit shirt, cheap jeans and khakis, and cheap shoes, smoothly integrated into the production, marketing and consumption cycles on which the fortunes of a few tend to get built.

Yippie! (Which, some of you will know is another form of hippie.) Californication.

Of course, The Man never really disappeared. In some cities, in some professions and workplaces, he or she, and his or her, colleagues, friends, and family might assume the coat and tie look fearlessly as an everyday habit. Nevertheless, no longer is it ubiquitous.

Fans of tyranny, fear not, The Man is more subtle than that. You see, the hippies did not win. They lost, and their philosophy of dress has been approprieted.

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I guess this is what happened to Graeme. His guerilla insurgency against slob wear, which he ended up calling Grown Man Style (GMS) came to an abrupt end as he moved out from underneath one corporate thumb and then under another, one that apparently outright bans the coat and tie look for its executives.

The tyranny of the necktie has been replaced by the tyranny of casual Friday, or its variants.

You know what I am talking about. Maybe your workplace does not restrict your dress by policy, maybe your friends and family are okay with the coat and tie look, but probably all the professional and social pressures are there to compel you to be a fellow member of the male slob generation. “Join us,” they say, “or else.”

The worst part? The hippie attitude of not caring about your dress has been hybridized today with what should be contrary, and that is, the impulses of materialism and consumerism. The dreadful result? Male slobs who think they are peacocks.

I admit that by age, background, and personal history, I skipped over this part of the story…and remain skipped. Nevertheless, I harbor no illusions that it would be fitting for many of you to stroll to the Monday meeting in your three piece, 16oz bespoke tweed weekend suit. Just don’t do that, okay? Leave that to the old and the untouchable, like me.

So, what should many of you do? This brings me back to Graeme.

Now, his recent look has often seemed pretty loopy, neither here nor there.

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Granted, he’s in Australia.

It could be that his new professional stint is sartorially liberating, so it’s YOLO every day. I suspect, however, that his Grown Man Style (GMS) longing never was obliterated by The Man (albeit, The Man in the roll neck shirt and dad jeans.)

Could I be right? I think so, because out it pops:

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Click the photograph to see Graeme’s recent post and his promise of documenting to where he is going.

I am not certain, but I do not believe that Graeme needs to wear any tailored clothing for professional reasons. That he is now drawn back to the world of coat and tie (true, some days without the tie, and other days without the coat, and maybe seldom the two ever together) fills me with good cheer.

You might enjoy reading about what he does next.