Robert Reich: The End Of The Necktie? – OpEd


I’ve always hated neckties. My objection isn’t aesthetic. It’s discomfort.

I have almost no neck. I have a large head that sits on a very short body with almost nothing in between. 

I still recall the time in high school when a girl in my class told me, laughing, “You have no neck!” That evening, I looked in the mirror and discovered she was right. I was mortified. 

Most people have a tube-like extension connecting their bodies to their heads. A very long one is considered attractive, especially on a woman. A short one is passable. But no neck at all is a bit, well, weird. 

All my life I’ve lived inside a body that’s weird — the consequence of a genetic mutation that caused me to be extremely short. The absence of a neck has been the least of my concerns. 

But neckties have always been a pain, literally. Putting a tie around a shirt collar has made me feel as if I’m choking. Yet if I loosen the tie to the point where I don’t feel choked, I look as if I’ve had a long night boozing it up. 

During my years in Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, I had to wear a necktie every day. It was a mild form of torture. 

So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a photo, taken Thursday in New York City, of President Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton gathered at a Democratic fundraiser. 

Their shirt collars were open. They had no ties!

There were critics, of course. 

For presidents or anyone else with “some stature in the suit game, the tie is the thing that finishes it off,” Jim Moore, the creative director at large of GQtold The New York Times Style section reporter Guy Trebay. “We love to dress the suit down but, in the end, respect the suit and wear the tie.”

Colm Dillane, the founder of the New York cult label KidSuper, best known for its streetwear, said functionality is not the point of a tie. The tie’s symbolic value “does a ton.” According to Dillane, the three presidents who gathered tieless for the photo on Thursday looked “a little disheveled.” 

I disagree. To me, they looked relaxed and comfortable. 

Donald Trump has a fat neck. On him, a tie looks rather like a neck belt. When will Trump go tieless? 

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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