I have no aversion to getting dressed up. I actually like it. I spend 95% of my time dressing like a slob, so it’s nice to look good once in awhile. But the necktie is something that, like Sammy Hagar fronting Van Halen, I will never fully get behind. I’ll just resign myself to it being the state of things and make the best of a bad situation. Truth be told, I look good in a tie, but why are you “more dressed up” while wearing one? They get in the way, even with a tietack or tiebar and most of the time those things are hideous, so I’ve never even bothered to get one. (“Awesome, can I get a monogram engraved on this thing? That’ll be the shit!”) Plus, with the advent of ironic everything, ties got sucked into the mix, too. Now you can get ultra-skinny ties with screenprinted revolvers, mystical wolves, skulls and what-have-you on them. Pair it with a size-too-small short-sleeved shirt, accessorize with a tallboy and Chuck Taylors and you’re sloppier looking than the guy next you wearing a thermal under a New Kids On The Block t-shirt. (Warning: steer clear of this pair if you see them in public, you’ll be crushed to death by the weight of their irony.)
Why does this tailored piece of silk or what-have-you denote that we are now dressed up? “Hey Pat, you look sharp in that tie!” “Oh, this tie? The one I probably got on sale at Marshall’s? The tie that spent most of dinner swimming in the red sauce? This stupid, annoying piece of fabric that I spent all night shrouded in terror that I might accidentally pee on it when I went to the bathroom? Thanks, man, I’m glad you like it –Ted Baker, so you know it’s a quality tie. I appreciate you noticing.”
I want you to do something. Right now. Find (or at least think of) a photo of your dad in a tie taken when you were a small child. There are several around your house because your mom took pictures when everyone got dressed up–everyone’s mom did. Now, if you didn’t know him, he looks like he’s straight from a parole hearing, doesn’t he? It’s the tie’s worst quality: they date you in a way that is almost inconceivable, while at the same time making it look like you are trying way too hard to be something you’re not. When I look at photos of myself from just ten or so years ago I think, “Jesus, how did anyone let me out of the house looking like that? A Cosby sweater and flip-flops would have looked more appealing.”
Fine, ok, I know the tie is here to stay and I know that I will willingly don one at every given chance and take the compliments and maybe even participate in some sort of a tie discussion at some event, which–inexplicably–has happened before. Twice. But I stand by my assessment that this is some sort of elaborate con dreamed up by Hermés or at the very least the Brooks Brothers in an attempt to separate men from their money in a quest to look appealing to the opposite sex. Fine, I’ll hand over my hard-earned cash but when you see me at the next wedding, my tie dipped into the French Onion soup, it’s not because I don’t know what I’m doing; it’s subversion. Plain and simple.
–Pat O’Brien is drinking Four Loko on his Facebook profile picture