Don’t let Branson tell you what to wear

One of those things that annoys me intensely is when people tell me what to wear. When I started up as a journalist I would be summoned to meetings in the Institute of Directors which, at the time, would not let people in without a tie. This struck me as a complete liberty. I wasn’t scruffy, just tieless. It’s different now.

But there’s another insidious trend – people telling me not to wear ties when actually I have some of which I’m rather fond. Richard Branson holds forth in this article about how he is “delighted” that the tie-wearer is usually the odd one out at a meeting. Not in my experience he isn’t, but there’s no problem with the idea that we move in different circles.

I like my ties. There are some good designers around, I’ve mentioned a few of them on this blog, here and here for example. Opposite is a picture of one by Victoria Richards, and I’ve highlighted others in the past. Hand painted or woven to an individual design by someone who knows what they’re doing, these are never boring and can be a lot of fun to wear. I’ve had several compliments when wearing one on television. There’s nothing wrong with the mass produced variety either; designs from Liberty, Duchamp and others can be attractive. The dull single-colour variety I tend to leave to the dull meeting or funeral.

This isn’t, though, a polemic to say everyone should wear ties. No, if Richard Branson doesn’t want to wear a tie then that’s clearly fine by me – why should he? No, what I object to is his decision that it’s a victory of some sort when other people don’t wear one. I’d still be annoyed to get told to wear one when I didn’t wish to, but my neckwear is my own choice, thanks.

Sorry if Branson doesn’t agree. But then we’re probably not going to go to the same meetings anyway.

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