With every year that passes, the necktie is disappearing more rapidly than miniature sausage rolls at a work morning tea. So loosen yours (if you[re wearing one) and join us for a brief but thorough examination of every capitalist's favourite noose: the common necktie.
I’m afraid it's tiephoid
A nicely knotted tie might be just the thing to distract your attention from the fact your doctor appears to be younger than Justin Bieber and hasn’t slept since Saturday, but danger lurks in that smart- looking silk! British studies found that, because they’re hardly ever washed, ties are the go-to location for germs looking to catch a lift from that phlegmy dying dude in the ICU to Mrs Muggins who’s just popped in to get her ears cleaned. Since September 2007, ties have been banned in British hospitals.
Cross my heart and hope to tie
Everyone knows the classic tie carries a diagonal stripe, but fewer outside this page’s exclusive readership know that the slant’s direction varies geographically.
In Blighty (and Commonwealth countries) the stripe runs from the wearer’s left shoulder to the right hand, while Americans favour a right-leaning stripe. Want to appear as spookily insightful
as The Mentalist? Approach a tie-wearing stranger and offer to guess his nationality. Go on.
It’s tied to the economy, stoopid
Otaki-based tie manufacturer Sanders Ties claims to be New Zealand’s largest, and spokesperson Shelley Macrae says that in her 30 years with the company she’s seen tie designs act as a reliable indicator of economic performance. While tie widths have steadily decreased over the decades (the average Kiwi tie is just 8.5cm across), their colours reflect the mood of the market.
“Conservative, less colourful ties are the norm during a downturn. As soon as the economy picks up again we see the return of more colour and adventurous designs.”
Sanders Tie Bonus: the tie worn by chicken-spruiking dead man Colonel Sanders (no relation) is known as a String Tie, and if you convince yourself that his looks like a stick-man’s arms and legs, you’ll never unsee it again.
Everyone’s a Windsor, baby
While schoolchildren and service station employees may opt for the vulgar convenience of the pre-knotted elastic tie, most tie wearers choose one of just a few traditional knots. In the 1990s
a pair of Cambridge University researchers used time that could have been spent ending poverty to calculate that a tie could be knotted in 85 different ways. The simple ‘Four in hand’ knot, however, accounts for the great majority of ties worn today.
The tie's the limit
The TIE Fighter, as favoured by Darth Vader and his Empire of wingmen, wasn’t named for its pilot’s formal dress standards, but is an acronym for the Twin Ion Engines that supposedly propelled it. One Empire’s pilots did wear ties – those of the Royal Air Force in the early months of World War II. They disappeared in favour of silk scarves when airmen ditching in the English Channel discovered their woollen issue ties shrunk in water, risking an ending not at the hands of the Hun, but in the manner of Michael Hutchence.