“Neckwear is art,” says Anthony T. Kirby or at least his Instagram persona @Finickey does. I’m skeptical. Traditionally, a tie was a thick strip of fabric knotted at the neck, a leash and collar all-in-one, metaphorically binding a man to his job, his house of worship, his place in society. It served—forgive the pun—as a knot-so-subtle reminder of a gentleman’s obligations in life.
Some of my earliest memories are of my father coming home after a long day at the office and immediately loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt collar. His relief in this daily gesture was palpable even to a young child. And until he’d accomplished it, he was not my father, but rather some strange, otherworldly, uniformed creature, unapproachable and mysterious. For me, Dad became Dad when he shed the yoke of his suit and tie in favor of a plaid flannel shirt and jeans the color of his eyes that crinkled up at the corners when at last he would smile at me.
With the advent of business casual, I wonder if children today are somehow missing out as they will never witness the magical transformation of a father, never feel empowered by the secret knowledge of his true identity concealed beneath the suit and tie. No longer a requirement or even a sign of gainful employment, my own father now gleefully telecommutes each day clad in a version of the red plaid and Levis from my childhood recollections, his secret identity as a wannabe lumberjack revealed daily.
For men like him, haberdashery has fallen to the wayside, a rusted remnant of a chain thankfully made obsolete by modern technology. Even for those men who still travel to a physical office every day, dress shirts, when worn at all, are open at the collar. The modern yoke of employment has become a smartphone in the hand instead of a tie around the neck.
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