Monday, June 18, 2007

The ties that bind

I have to attend a University event on Wednesday and, to make it worse, I will have to have my picture taken for use in various bits of University 'development' literature/propaganda. (Here's some blurb about last year's). This is all a pretty grim prospect, but at least there might be a nice supper. But it also turns out that it is a sartorial minefield. I am very happy to work in a job which allows me most of the time not to wear a tie. In fact, unlike some of my colleagues who still put on the uniform, I hardly ever wear a tie unless absolutely required. (For example, it is still essential to wear a tie if you go in to 'dine' in the evening in college at High Table. Fair enough, I suppose. We make the Butler wear a tie so it's only proper that we should make some effort too.) But looking at my tie options the other day I discovered that I hadn't bought a new tie for years and the ones I had were looking a bit sad and out of date.

Tie-buying, I now discover, is also not an easy matter. It is very difficult, in fact, not to end up buying a tie that makes you look like one of the following main categories: (1) an accountant who buys ties only if they come ready packed with a shirt; (2) a footballer leaving court after pleading guilty to various traffic offences; or (3) that 'wacky' bloke in the office who thinks that having a cartoon character on his tie will make up for not having a personality. So if, like me, you are looking for a tie that shows that you don't normally wear a tie and don't have to wear a tie that makes you look professional and boring but also don't want to look like a dandy or a weirdo, there is a very fine line. And it is not easy to hit, or at least that is my impression from a 20 minute dash (my usual clothes-shopping maximum tolerance) to Tie Rack and M&S. I could, I suppose, have a supply of 'amusing' or 'cultured' ties that shout at the world that I am a Classicist: perhaps a Rosetta Stone tie, or an Attic vase painting etc. All the kind of thing you can get at the British Museum or Fitzwilliam Museum shop. Or perhaps something 'philosophical', though those are harder to find. (Nothing as nice as the T-shirt from the excellent Unemployed Philosophers' Guild which reads: 'Here's looking at Euclid'. Their 'Freudian slippers' are also good.) But in the end I ended up with this. I'm hoping it looks not quite like a work tie, and not like the tie you had to buy for a friend's wedding.

Not easy this sort of thing...

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