January 28, 2010

I Like To Be Tied Up

Titter ye not.

Time was when the open throat of a man could make a woman weak at the knees. The reason: no one was accustomed to seeing anything exposed below the Adam’s Apple. There is a deal to be said for leaving much to be desired. The Victorians were sexual furnaces, engaging in every manner of depravity one might imagine. This was owed in part to the fact that the social formalities of public and private life demanded a buttoned-up approach to dressing (pictured: George John Romanes, personal hero of mine. No stain of sexual depravity marks his character). Imagine for a moment how the minds of today’s youth would be enlivened if only their eyes were not so readily gratified! In the West we are too accustomed to the sight of skin, and accordingly, the erotic has been lost in the grotesque.

Fortunately, a vestige of the erotic remains in individual experience. One’s mind is wont to dwell upon what lies under the clothes of a person who reveals little, for mystery is attractive, and also contemplative; the scantily clad is subject to the ocular gorge, but the moment is fleeting, the potential immediately reached. The tastefully dressed command a second, a third, a longer look. Consider the heightened ecstasy of the long-anticipated reveal.

For these reasons (not exclusively – there are more mundane ones) I advocate wearing a tie. Cover the male throat and animate it in the imagination. But I could not possibly extol the virtues of the tie without offering some prescriptions as to how it should look, and how it should be tied (although I will spare you the specific instructions – look them up). The rules, much like everything else these days, are more relaxed, and one should follow one’s impulses within reason. Wear a big Windsor knot to portray confidence, but bear in mind that with a cheap suit this knot will make you look like a thug or a footballer. The half-Windsor is often a good compromise knot, but the angle of the collar should dictate how much space the knot should take up. Of course, the thickness of the silk, its weave, and the width of the tie itself will all determine what kind of knot you can get away with. With thinner ties, a four-in-hand knot looks well, and ought not to arouse worries of looking juvenile, despite being known in some quarters as the ‘schoolboy knot’. The tie must never hang below where shirt meets trouser, and should not be more than two inches above it. Your girth will determine what looks best. If you’re overweight, eat less and go to the gym. And ties must be silk (or maybe cashmere and silk). No one fantasises about unpeeling layers of polyester.

Spare a thought also for the bowtie (one of mine pictured), although do not ever wear a clip on tie and expect your dignity and self-respect to remain intact. You can learn how to tie a proper one online, and there is really no excuse. A bowtie, if not carefully incorporated into a whole look, might raise an unwanted smile from the beholder; but thoughtfully deployed you may fascinate the passer by, who will spend the day contemplating that enigmatic chap he or she saw earlier.

I like to be tied up. It adds meaning to the times when I want to look relaxed. And it may elicit a desire in some to go for the throat. Carpe jugulum!


  1. I just discovered this blog today (via sartorialist), and I would like to take my hat off to you, if indeed I happened to be wearing one. I'm the wrong gender to use much of this blessed info, but it's still a wonderful read. And for the record, speaking as a woman who aims at classic elegance rather than 'fashion'.....I completely agree with the *more is better* approach. I also find the hidden is always more alluring and interesting than the exposed....and don't get me started on my thoughts about a finely formed male throat.

  2. Thank you humbly for the compliment. It means more than you can know.
    I do like to think that the discerning lady will find plenty to occupy her here, especially if there is someone close by to whom to relay the pertinent information.
    With kind regards,

  3. As a fellow fan of the necktie, I've given it some thought myself. I think the decline of the tie is a nice metaphor for how men have willingly given up things that make them uniquely male. Somehow, when we as a society gained the knowledge that all people were born equal—be they male or female and irregardless of race—we got the impression that people must be the same. Now, pronouncedly in fashion and noticeably in everything else, there's very little that men have available to them that could not be labeled "unisex." Ties, however, do still connote manliness. Sure, women can and do choose to wear them, but to me anyway, they will always be a man's accessories.

    Oh, and "business casual" is a sin, which is probably why it became so popular.

  4. Thank you Hatchett. Insightful comment.

  5. I am enjoying your newly discovered blog very much. As for the covered v.s. uncovered body as a woman there is much to appreciate in the removal of a nicely tied cravat/tie.

    I.e. if you have not seen the 2004 BBC version of North & South (written by Elizabeth Gaskell) it must be added to your Netflix queue post haste. The last five minutes are worth the four hours of an excellent film, and there is much swooning over a cravat-less man. From this woman, and her friends, at least. :)

  6. Of the tie, I must add: pure linen and pure wool are wonderful. And don't forgot cotton, and the sheen of cotton lisle. And more knit ties please... My wardrobe is at 200+ ties and counting due to the great variety available the adventurous and confidant man.
    That bow tie of yours is causing me feelings of envy...

  7. Yes, James, of course you are right. I wrote this in January, when linen seemed a long way off. I also have a range of knitted ties. Sometimes my hatred of polyester gets in the way of accentuating the finer things in life.

    The bowtie, by the way, is from J. Press, Cambridge, MA.


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