Thursday, December 05, 2013

What kind of world is it where Bob Dylan wears a tie and the weatherman doesn't?

The same day Tie Rack announced it was going into administration I went to see Bob Dylan at the Albert Hall. He was wearing a tie.

A few nights later I saw Dream Themes, Rhodri Marsden’s TV theme-tune band. They were all wearing ties. Even the guitarist, who threw himself to the ground during an emotionally wrenching version of the Panorama theme, was wearing one.

It’s funny that rock bands, who used to pride themselves on being morally above wearing ties, should now adopt them as a working uniform. There have been memorable rock ties. There was Bryan Ferry’s GI tie, which he would tuck into his shirt. Around the same time Bill Nelson had a nice line in bulky Rodney Bewes-style kippers. One of the things that made Doctor Feelgood stand out from other pub rock bands was they wore ties.

The wearing of a rock tie does two things: it helps distinguish the members of the band from the members of the audience and also makes them look as if they're going to work, like the gang at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs.

It's funny that this should happen just as ties are falling out of use in the real workplace. I don't have anything against informality.I simply feel that if you wear a suit without a tie, or without a collar that can said to be properly resolved, you look unfinished. That surely wasn't what you had in mind when you bought the suit.

At the end of last night's BBC news they had two weathermen, one wearing a tie and one not. I know which one I paid attention to.


  1. You could add Bruce Springsteen to the list with Bob. Every night of the Wrecking Ball tour he walked on stage wearing a tie and waistcoat. The fact that it looked like he didn't unknot it once between the first night and the last (the way a 15 year old doesn't from one end of term to the other) didn't matter at all.

    As someone who enjoys wearing a neck tie - socially as well as professionally - I appreciated the gesture.


  2. "It's funny that this should happen just as ties are falling out of use in the real workplace."

    Surely that's the point.
    You want to be different.
    When everyone was wearing ties, to be different you didn't.
    Now no one wears them, to be different you do.
    I grew up in the mods & rockers era.
    Mods were working class guys rebelling against dads who always wore overalls.
    Rockers were middle class guys rebelling against dads who always wore suits.
    Creativity (or fashion) doesn't come out of limbo, it comes as a reaction.
    Classsicism>Romanticism>Realism>Impressionism>Expressionism>Pop Art, etc

  3. All that's true, Dave, but the adoption of the (often expensive) suit without tie look seems to represent the limbo that men find themselves in at the moment. They're still obeying a code while pretending that they're rugged individualists.

  4. True David.
    Years back in the creative depts of ad agencies we all wore jeans and T shirts.
    Then the 'suits' started wearing denim jackets and cowboy boots and growing beards.
    So the creatives switched to wearing suits.
    We just wanted to look different to the 'suits' even if they weren't wearing suits.

  5. Bellowhead over their first few years, seemed to have ties as part of their image. I thought it unusual at first but have noticed a few older musicians with ties now

  6. And now Arcade Fire not only playing in suits and ties themselves, but asking fans to wear "formal attire" as well.

  7. IMHO (as the young folk say)the dark suit, no tie look is better/softened with a dark, coloured or patterned shirt. But, wear one with a crisp white - and you're into the dress down casual wardrobe of Piers Morgan and Michael McIntyre..

    Rotten Ties in Rock: the skinny brigade worn post punk as shorthand for 'we're down with the New Wavers'.

    And Ferry was one of the few who msde that work on the The Bride Stripped Bare

  8. I always thought Paul Weller was a good barometer when it came to measuring tie pressure (see what I did there?), but then I found this photograph.

  9. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the winds of fashion blow

  10. I have a Jerry Garcia tie which I bought in, wait for it, Tie Rack. Always seemed odd, because JG wasn't known for his tie-wearing habits, but it's a fetching design and it pleases me to give it an outing occasionally.