If you think for one moment that you can get away with being one of those men who refuses to wear a tie, and that this gives a unique rebelliousness to your individuality, you fail to realise that ties have been a fundamental element of men’s attire for centuries. You can thank the Croatians for inventing the cravat, a precursor to the modern day necktie, some 350 years ago. We ought to wear ties with pride, as they are one of the few items of fashion that men can truly call their own. But fear and ignorance of style has made us snub the tie, and for decades it has been butchered by used car salesmen and highschool teachers for this very reason.

Ties should not be seen as some grey symbol of the corporate world – a set of reins for your boss to yank. The tie is essentially a fashion accessory that is meant to be fun and worn together as part of a suit in order to show off mood and style – that’s why they come in such an endless variety of colours and designs. And all of these colours and patterns are permissible as long as you use them the right way. Use complementary colours and make sure the pattern on your tie does not match the pattern on your shirt. But do not be afraid either. Do your own thing, and even if that fails – expensive ties make the best blindfolds and feel better than fluffy handcuffs. Yes, they can be uncomfortable, we do get that, but they also look good – and it’s not like you are being asked to wear 7-inch heels for a whole night. Man up.

Chances are that if it is uncomfortable, you’re wearing it wrong. It might not be entirely your fault, though, as there are some 85 ways to knot a tie, and that excludes bow-ties, ascot ties and bolo ties – it seems the average man needs nautical training just to be able to make it to work in the morning. Having said that, as a South African male you have probably endured at least five years of compulsory tie-wearing during your highschool years, so you should be familiar with the common Four-in-Hand knot at least. In fact the Four-in-Hand together with a Half-Windsor are the only knots you will ever need. That’s good enough. Get a mirror and get practising.

by Luka Vracar

Originally published in Playboy South Africa October 2012