On ties

This post is more than 16 years old.

Posted at 13:00 on 11 October 2007

I didn’t often have to wear a tie when I was working at Kingdom Faith.

The main exception was when we went out on ministry trips. Especially overseas. It’s funny how the hotter the country you are visiting, and the less reliable the air conditioning, the more insistent they are that you wear a suit and tie.

In Africa, for instance, especially in churches which meet in makeshift tin roofed buildings, immaculate suits are de rigeur. In Malaysia, on the other hand, you can sometimes get away with substituting the jacket and tie with a batik shirt, which is generally considered fairly formal wear in that neck of the woods. However, the air con generally works in Malaysia — often so efficiently that a jacket and tie are the preferable alternative.

Once we got back home again and I was safely ensconced behind the computer, generally the sartorial requirements eased off. For a few years, pastors had to wear ties on a day to day basis, but that rule fell by the wayside a few years back, and besides, I was never made a pastor, so the amount of tie-wearing that I had to do was never too onerous.

This was a Good Thing. I am, of course, a software developer, or, as my last boss at KF repeatedly insisted on calling me, “a geek.” And one of the key features of being a geek is a very strong preference for comfortable clothes — and a pathological aversion to ties.

Some developers will not even accept employment at companies that require them to wear ties. However, much as I can’t stand the things, I am prepared to take a more pragmatic approach.

When I started at my present job nearly two years ago, the dress code mandated a tie. It had done ever since the company was founded. I didn’t complain at the time — it was a new phase in my life, and it conveyed a sense of professionalism, so I decided to set aside my geek sensibilities and go with the flow.

However, fortunately, things move on, and nowadays the corporate dress code is somewhat more relaxed, mainly because in the Web 2.0 industry, ties are distinctly in the minority. Nowadays we only tend to wear them when meeting clients.

I think the general geek aversion to ties stems from the fact that apart from making you uncomfortable and restricting the flow of blood to your brain, they serve no apparent purpose whatsoever. Yeah, I know there’s the whole thing about non-verbal communication and looking professional and reliable and businesslike, but I wonder if somehow, with a bit of creativity, fashion designers could come up with alternatives that convey exactly the same message in a much more comfortable way?