2011 Goals Check-in
Sunday Blues

Guys and Ties

When I asked Chris to write a guest post (on the topic of his choice) I thought he might want to contribute a post on food or cooking since he’s a nutrition professor. Or that he might want to write about budgeting and savings, since he’s the one who taught me to budget down to the dollar. But he wrote about ties! I had to laugh because it's actually the perfect topic for him to write about; this guy has an amazing tie collection! It was fun making him try on all the different combinations and snapping pictures.

Did you know a man could say so much with (and about) a tie?


With the recent launch of this blog, Kelsey invited me to write some ‘guest posts’ here and there.  So, I started thinking about what I might have expertise enough to write about in a way that could be at least mildly interesting.  I’m a nutrition professor, so I have plenty to write about on health.  Unfortunately, it’s what I do all day as a profession, so it’s not my first choice of topics when I sit down to write for fun.  Even so, it takes a central role in our lives and how our household runs, so I’m sure both Kelsey and I will be writing occasionally about how we integrate nutrition day-by-day.

For my first post, I instead decided to write about something else in which I am expert, and that is ties, or at least the wearing of them.  To me, ties don’t make the man, but they do help make the impression of the man.  And that, all too often, is a forgotten but powerful tool.  Certainly, wearing a tie isn’t appropriate in all situations, or even in all professions.  But for those husbands, boyfriends, and casual male readers out there who sometimes have the option to wear a tie for work or play, take it!  Here’s why: ties are an easy way for guys to think about fashion; when worn correctly, ties help project your personality, whether you mean business or you mean to have fun; and ties, I firmly believe, contribute to success.


I’ll address each of these reasons in turn, but let me start with the fun stuff first: fashion.  It’s likely at least half of the male readers out there shuddered a bit just now (either because you don’t think about clothes, or you secretly do but don’t want to let your partner who is looking over your shoulder right now know it).  Here’s the deal: fashion can be fun, and when it comes to ties, it doesn’t have to be a complicated venture.  Khakis and a white or blue shirt are easily thrown together, and they can pass for a work or casual outfit.  They are also a blank canvas and say nothing about you as a person other than, “I think enough about clothes to not accidentally walk out the front door naked.”  So take advantage of the opportunity and add a tie.  This simple piece of fabric takes an otherwise boring outfit to a whole new level.  And, you can get away with some pretty daring combinations of colors, fabrics, and patterns without looking outlandish because the tie is such a minimal aspect of what you wear. 


But can a simple tie really project something about your personality?  Absolutely.  If you’ve taken the time to wear a tie, you’ve taken time to think about your appearance.  If that’s the case, then whether you like it or not, you’ve decided to say something about yourself.  And I for one would applaud you for getting this far.  But if you are going to say something about yourself through your clothes, you might as well say what you mean. Here are some basic examples of tie-shirt combos and my take on what they might ‘say’ about a man:

  • Charcoal grey tie on a plain white shirt: sleek, straightforward; you mean business
    -- Unbutton the top button and roll up the sleeves: the working man’s sleek; you take yourself seriously, but you’re not aloof
  • Blue- and red-striped tie on a patterned shirt (such as blue and white checkers): casual, fun; you might be of the happy-go-lucky bent
    -- Unbutton the top button and roll up the sleeves: you just took casual to a new level of cool
  • Polka-dot tie on a striped shirt: daring, adventurous; you are either seriously fun, or you are deadly serious, or both
    -- Unbutton the top button and roll up the sleeves: you are more the seriously fun type; or you are deadly serious, just destroyed your adversary, and are now relaxing in victory


This leads me to the idea that ties contribute to success.  You might disagree, thinking success is really all about one’s personality, one’s drive to succeed, and taking advantage of opportunities when they are presented.  These things are certainly true, but I have a theory that success derives not only from hard work and drive, but also from multiple contributing factors you might not often think about.


I believe success is also about ‘synergistic subtleties.’  It’s the idea that while your hard work hopefully pays off, every little thing you can do to give yourself an edge can and will contribute to your success.  Ties project an image, and that image sticks in people’s minds.  I cannot tell you how important it is to keep your face fresh in the minds of others, because it’ll be your name that more quickly rolls off the lips of your superiors when opportunity arises. 

I also believe the greatest success comes when you take yourself seriously, but in a measured way.  You have to take yourself seriously or no one else will.  But you’re not going to be a very good team player, or someone who can roll with the punches well enough to move up in the world, if you take yourself too seriously.  How can you strike that balance of ‘serious, but not too serious,’ and improve your chances of success?  With the right tie, worn well.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s an example: the other day, I was involved in hiring a new employee to fill a position with which I work very closely.  The hiring committee had the opportunity to either hire a new person into the position, or to move a well-qualified person already on staff from her old position into the open spot to work with me.  Taking the staff person would be great for me because it’d require no training and I am already confident in her ability to do the job well.  Also on the hiring committee was a person from whom this staff person would have been taken.

It came down to a meeting including him, me, and the chair of the hiring committee.  In the end, I walked away with the staff person, and he took the new person to backfill the loss of his staff.  In our negotiations, he made the (half) joke, “Maybe if I wore a tie like Chris does, I could’ve kept her.”  I laughed, then thought to myself, “well, maybe…but I was the guy with the tie.” 


By the way (and this is true)…I wrote this post sitting in my favorite coffee shop enjoying the legal drug that is my morning Americano.  The manager walked by only moments ago, looked down, and exclaimed, “Nice tie.”