Dress Code: To Tie, or Not To Tie

Dress Code: To Tie, or Not To Tie?

For 5 and a half years I’ve worked in a place where the dress code was commonly accepted as being smart casual. I tended to opt for the smarter side of casual, usually wearing a shirt with chinos or regular jeans and boots. Others were, let’s say, a bit more liberal with the term “smart casual”.

Dress code

Last week we were informed as a group that the senior leaders were implementing a dress code. I can’t say I was surprised and I welcomed the idea. My attire seemingly fitted in with this new code, aside from there would be no more jeans. No great shakes for me.

Ironically on the day the announcement was made I was in jeans and a polo shirt.

But it got me thinking about what we, as a society, deem to be smart attire.

Of course, the term smart casual is open to interpretation. One persons smart casual is another persons lounge wear. Smart to some people means wearing a tie, but for others a tie is an outdated accessory that has no place in todays society.

As I was already, by default, complying with the new dress code I need not to take any action. However, I have done.

Three dozen ties

In my wardrobe, hung to the side and out of sight, is my tie rack. Over three dozen ties, hanging neatly and untouched for some time, quivering with excitement whenever they detect daylight and wonder if today will be the day.

Well, I haven’t worn a tie to work in over 10 years. I had no reason to start to do so given that a tie was not part of the new dress code. 

But, I did. And do you want to know something? It felt good!

I am in danger of entering the realms of a hypocrite here given that I have issues with a society that dictates what people wear and what constitutes smart and appropriate. But, hear me out.

For me, what you wear is about what makes you feel comfortable. Not just in the physical sense, but in your head too. If a person is comfortable and happy with what they are wearing then it should matter not to anyone else.

I didn’t feel uncomfortable wearing a tie. In fact, it made me feel smarter. I know, I know – societal dictations again. But it did. I can’t help how I feel.

The reaction from colleagues to me suddenly wearing a tie was as I expected…

“You got a job interview?”

“You going to court?”

“Aren’t you looking smart today.”

All water off a duck’s back to me.


As a manager within this business, I am on the rung below the senior leadership team in terms of the ladder. I suppose I should be the one setting an example.

True enough that in the work place, health and safety can often be a factor, this is not what I am discussing. I work in an office and sit at my desk for 90% of my day or longer.

Over my career I have been both the interviewer and the interviewee on several occasions. As the interviewer i would always expect the person attending to assume the highest standards of presentation, not necessarily weraing a tie though. As the interviewee I would always wear a tie, suit and generally look as smart as I could.

The reality is that I don’t really mind wearing a tie. I can choose not to if I wish, but at the moment I am enjoying the novelty of doing so. Knowing me, I’ll most likely get bored in a week or two.


In fairness, my choice of wearing a tie means nothing as to the ability for me to do my job well. Aside from health and safety-related dress codes, what a person wears will rarely have any direct impact on their abilities. That’s part of my reasoning that a dress code isn’t really worthwhile in most workplaces, though many choose to have one.

I am struggling with selecting my daily outfit though. Naturally, over a decade, my wardrobe has reshaped itself to the non-tie wearing person. My wardrobe has more patterned shirts, that require a plain tie, or shirts that don’t actually look great with a tie at all.

For that reason, I shall be adding to my wardrobe with some choice selections from charity shops rather than heading out to buy new items.

In a morning I am being more selective with what I wear and taking a bit more time over choosing my attire. This morning it took me about 5 or so minutes for me to get my tie to a length I felt looked good. And I always use a full Windsor knot.

Dress down Friday | The Yorkshire Dad of 4
Combing jeans with the shirt & tie for dress down Friday (with a “fun” tie)

Dress-down Friday

The good news with our new company dress code is that every Friday will be a dress-down or casualwear Friday.

I say “good news” but I am not convinced. In my experience in other businesses, dress-down Friday’s were a bit of a problem for productivity.

With a dress code to adhere to Monday through Thursday, the sudden relaxation of the rule for dress-down Friday combined with weekend fever can be an issue. In a previous role I saw productivity in my team reduce on a Friday. The sudden relaxation of one rule led to an overall relaxation in the attitude to work.

I hope I am wrong on this one though.

And finally…

To be blunt, I’m not arsed really.

Firstly, I am not a fashion follower. I don’t really have a style (note: I didn’t any style) that I stick to. So, sticking to a workplace dress code that is pretty much what I wear anyway isn’t going to be an issue for me.

The ties, well they might come and go.

A tie doesn’t mean I am great at my job, is as much that wearing jeans means I’m crap at it either. The fact is, it’s the person under the clothes that is doing the job and has the talent.

Here’s to to the ties…

Thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “Dress Code: To Tie, or Not To Tie?”

  1. I worked for a year at a financial company as a financial advisor. The dress code was: “think Wall Street.” This branch of the company was in Wichita, Kansas. While Wichita is a good sized city at approximately 350,000, much of Kansas is rural farming. I never minded the dress code as I have found wearing appropriate attire sets my mood for the job at hand. (I worked in healthcare for a long time. Putting on my scrubs also set my mood for that job.) But I had coworkers who had farmers as clients. It was their position that the farmers are going to be suspicious of a guy in a suit. They may have been correct. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell if their argument was valid or if it was an excuse because they didn’t like wearing tie. Food for thought in any case.

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