Years ago I departed from the tradition of wearing a tie to the office. In the late 90s and early 00s it seemed that was the cool thing to do. Even the corporate finance teams we met with showed up in smart shirts (with cufflinks) and chinos (but only expensive ones), whilst their banking colleagues still showed up in uncomfortable looking suits.
At some point I decided to go back to wearing a tie. Age perhaps? I don’t know, but I kept the chinos (the cheaper version – I am not a corporate financier after all). I like them and I combine them with a jacket or a blaser – very continental I am told.
But lately I have gotten bored with my tie collection. I have over 100, so it took a little while, but it was time to look out for some new ones. To my surprise there do not seem to be any interesting ties about anymore. They are all a bit similar and quite frankly, rather dull, but they are what people seem to be wearing.
In the 70s I wore flowery ties, all imported from England – just to clarify, I was not educated in this country, so we did not have school uniforms. In fact the son of friends of my parents made a few of them. You could purchase a great 70s tie and if you flipped it over and looked on the inside you would find what is now on page 3 of the Sun (maybe she was there then also for all I know).
In the 80s I loved ties with all little figures on it, and one in the middle which was slightly different. Difficult to spot, but they amused me. My favourite one was a tie with little bankers on it, all in pin striped suits and wearing bowlers. The one in the middle had dropped his trousers (he had boxers on so it was not that rude). Even then I guess my feeling about bankers showed.
I remember one occasion when our bankers at a medium sized company I was Treasurer for came to visit. One was a Director of the bank. At some point I walked over to the office of our Finance Director, my boss, and asked if he would join us. He started putting on his jacket so I asked him why he was doing that. “Because they are bankers” was the answer. He was the only one in the room wearing a jacket. These two people were fantastic bankers – it was before RBS ruined the bank, at which point the Director left the Board.
So what is the rule today? Kids are taught that they should wear a tie; well at least if they go to a private school or an Academy. Boys at Eton wear a uniform too bizarre for words. Truck drivers for Eddie Stobart were told to wear a uniform and a tie as they worked on smartening up the image of the industry. Corporate finance went in the other direction, though I would be wary of putting the blame for decline in the image of corporate finance on their uniform.
Personally I find it very confusing these days what to wear. When is it appropriate to wear a suit, a tie, what kind of suit, what kind of jacket? It gets even more confusing when you start thinking about a dress code. Don’t ever try to get a technical development team to wear a tie or a uniform – you will lose them, but that is another story.