· clothes · newspaper clippings ·

I shouldn't admit to it, I'm sure, but David Mitchell's recent column on not sticking out is somewhat relatable:

My mistake had been to confuse my liking for old-fashioned conventions of dress with liking old-fashioned items of clothing. The former provided a virtual uniform for almost all circumstances from work to weddings to funerals to parties to meeting royalty, while the latter involves wearing weird moth-eaten items that make people think you’re a dick.

In light of this, I was puzzled by last week’s comments by the TV journalist Michael Crick about the demise of tie-wearing in workplaces. He described this as “sad” because “in many fields ties are still the only chance men have to play with colour and express themselves”. I’m also a fan of ties and wouldn’t mind wearing one every day, but for precisely the opposite reason. Wearing a jacket and tie absolves men of having to express themselves or show any judgment at all. It provides the perfect neutral look – bland but not noticeably so. Even those with as stunted aesthetic senses as mine find that hard to screw up.

Conversely, in the post-tie chaos that’s been my experience of the workplace, there is a bewildering maelstrom of opportunities to express and thereby betray yourself. Literally any item of your clothing can be any shape or colour, not merely the strip of cloth dangling from your chin. What on earth was Crick talking about?