Drab suit-clad men in the Tokyo Stock Exchange – pic anonymous
Almost akin to some alien epidermis, the suit and tie has seemingly dominated the modern developed world, and for some mysterious reason the majority of businessmen are prepared to wake each morning, don this hideous garment, tie a noose around their neck, and traipse off to work.
For many the suit is seen as an attire of respect, particularly if you are in a position of senior authority, but somehow, somewhere there must be more to this sinister form of cosmetic drab because if it is the suit and tie that gets you the job then it says a lot about the people who hired you.
Human existence has evolved to expect conformity, which portrays a lack of imagination. So if you wear the same garb as everyone else you then become inconspicuous, fit in amidst the crowd, and not draw any unwanted attention.
A suit can be a form of identity, and provide the unity of a group. But what is it with the hideous, and uncomfortable necktie? It serves no purpose beyond separating the heart from the head?
The necktie’s origin is still disputable - the oldest examples are found on the life-size terracotta soldiers buried with Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 210 B.C. Each soldier wears a carefully wrapped silk cloth around his neck. Other early neckties are depicted on a marble column erected by Roman emperor Trajan in 113 AD. The column shows legionnaires wearing three versions of neckwear.
It is said that in ancient Egyptian times people were buried in a primitive form of the suit (also known as the death sack) because the suit prevented the spirit from leaving the soul.
Anthropologists suggest that the tie directs a viewer’s attention downwards to the wearer’s genitals (hence the phallic shape) like a displaced codpiece.
Sigmund Freud would have probably argued that the tie hangs flaccidly from the neck to the groin like a penis, and also point to it as the very symbol of the phallus. This may be envied by men and women, not for its actual qualities, but for the social meaning attributed to the gender of its owner. So the tie is thus a symbol of the domination of men over women, and of power in general.
But will this useless garment ever be shunned?
In the Tasmanian parliament the first person to break the chains was democrat Norm Sanders who chose to ride his motorcycle to work, and hence walked into the Parliament chamber in his leather jacket wearing no tie, and clasping his bike helmet.
So in the process of wearing a tie, we simply don’t feel free, just as we don’t look free, as it is the very essence of human conformity!
It would seem the necktie is an impractical item of clothing that serves no specific purpose.
But if you choose to wear one as a creative decoration rather than enslaved symbol of your self-imposed confinement then do so by all means!
*Ted Mead despises the suit, mostly because some of the world greatest criminals and environmental vandals are forever dressed in one. Even more repugnant for Ted is the tie, as he was forced to wear one at school even when there was a heat wave happening. Ted claims he wouldn’t be seen dead in one now, but expects his friends will probably adorn him when he finally lay in his coffin. Such is life!