From Mick Jagger To Rami Malek, The Tie Continues To Face An Existential Crisis

19 March 2019
Ties, Style
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Fifty-four years ago today, the Rolling Stones front man was asked to save the tie-making industry. Today, style icons remain split on its merits

Ties. They don’t really serve a purpose, do they?

They’re mostly worn on sad occasions like funerals and weddings. Or, even more sombrely, in the office.

They also get in your soup.

At least that’s how a young Mick Jagger felt about the dangling pieces of cloth in the mid-sixties.

When the Beatles embarked on the journey to conquer the world only a few years earlier, manager Brian Epstein had insisted they ditch their leather jackets and Teddy boy looks for clean-cut suits, ties, and Cuban-heeled boots. The world swooned.

Then along came a dissatisfied Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. By 1965 the Stones were at the forefront of a counterculture movement that openly encouraged social and cultural rebellion.

And as cutesy Beatlemania was taking its last breaths and the Summer of Love was only a year away, popular culture was turning its back on conventional fashion. There was no place for the niceties of the monochrome tie in this new technicolour world.

In fact, so fierce was the rejection of this symbol of conservatism, that the tie-making industry faced ruin.

And so it was that on this day 54 years ago, Britain’s The Tailor And Cutter Magazine ran an editorial imploring the Rolling Stones to start wearing ties; Jagger, as you’d expect was having none of it.

“The trouble with a tie is that it could dangle in the soup,” he said. “It is also something extra to which a fan can hang when you are trying to get in and out of a theatre.”

To Jagger, ties are magnets for unnecessary drama, it seems.

Rock stars, Bryan Ferry or Robert Palmer aside, have rarely worn ties since.  And no, the piano ties of the 1980s don’t count.

Jump to the present day, and the tie is once again facing an existential crisis.

In some circles, there has been a clear shift away from the dapper look towards a more irreverent style over recent years. You are more likely to find celebrities and fashion figures wearing trainers with their suits than ties.

Oscar winner Rami Malek in particular has perfected the “air tie” look over the last couple of years and where Malek goes these days, the hordes are sure to follow.

He’s not alone either, with style icons like Ryan Gosling preferring to go tie-free and others like Donald Glover eschewing shirts altogether with their suits in favour of V-neck sweaters or T-shirts.

However, reports of the tie’s demise, at least on the fashion runways, have been greatly exaggerated.

After the recent FW19 shows, fashion critics are heralding a return to “suiting”, with ties back in full swing at megabrands including Saint Laurent, Celine, Burberry and Ermenegildo Zegna.

So, to suit up, or avoid ruining your soup?

For now, it's a tie.