Five places that still demand ties, and five that ban them
Racing driver Lewis Hamilton has been turned away from the Royal Box at Wimbledon for not wearing a jacket and tie, it's been reported. Where are the other bastions of tie wearing, asks Gareth Rubin.
Some people think that the slice of cloth around a man's neck is an outdated nod to formality, but there are places gentlemen still need to wear a tie in order to gain admittance.
However, there are also now places that ban people from wearing them, whether they want to wear one or not.
Where you still need to wear a tie:
1. Tea at the Ritz in London. If you want to scoff scones surrounded by minor aristocrats and bemused tourists, you will need a tie. According to Jackie McDevitt from the hotel: "The architecture in the Palm Court is in an elegant Louis XVI style and our clients enjoy getting dressed up to match it."
2. Formal dinners on a P&O Cruise. A lounge suit and tie is the minimum, but "James Bond style dinner jackets bring a real sense of occasion to the evening", adds the company.
3. School. The Old School Tie might no longer be your automatic entry into the higher echelons of British society, but you probably still had to wear one when you were there.
4. The House of Commons Press Gallery. "The dress code for members of the Press Gallery is intended to demonstrate respect for the House. Male members of the Press Gallery are required to wear a jacket and tie in the Reporters Gallery."
5. The Marylebone Cricket Club. The MCC, the guardian of British cricket, says that men visiting the pavilion at Lord's on match days wear a tie or cravat. There are exceptions for gentlemen in national dress or service uniform.
According to Bill Prince, deputy editor of men's magazine GQ, it's not really Hamilton's fault - he just didn't know the rules. "Ties are historically the 'finishing touch' of a tailored outfit,' he says. "However, the casualisation of dress codes generally has merely added to a sense of confusion on the part of the potential wearer, so rules at least clear the sartorial air, and establish a protocol."
And it's not just protocol for the sake of it, says Patrick Murphy, head cutter at Savile Row tailor Davies and Son. Without them, you can look like a scruff. "If you ask me, anyone wearing a suit and not a tie just hasn't finished getting dressed," he explains. "They might disappear one day, but I think I'll be dead by then."
Places you're not allowed to wear one:
1. If you work for Richard Branson and want to avoid an unpleasant surprise. "I often have a pair of scissors in my top pocket to go cutting people's ties off," he once wrote. 'I'm sure they only exist because bosses, after being forced to wear ties all their life, are determined to inflict the same fate on the next generation."
2. Hospital doctors. Pieces of cloth dangling about and rubbing across sick people's skin are a recipe for infection. As the NHS guidelines say: "Ties are rarely laundered but worn daily. They perform no beneficial function in patient care and have been shown to be colonised by pathogens."
3. Police officers. They look like they're wearing ties, but they probably aren't - those are likely to be clip-ons because an actual tie would be a safety hazard, especially in a confrontation with a criminal.
4. Soho House. The chain of trendy private members clubs has an anti-dress code. It's all about showing they are nothing like the fusty old gentlemen's clubs of Mayfair.
5. Factory lines involving any type of machinery like presses or rollers where people could be trapped. But the safety guidance usually just refers to "loose clothing" as it's taken as read that ties are a no-no.
More from the Magazine
Once there was a branch of Tie Rack in every High Street, station and airport... but when even Conservative prime ministers go open-necked, you know that a small sartorial legacy of 1980s Britain has gone for good.
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