Of elbow tassles and aerodynamics

No, it’s not a new Muse album. It’s just a minor rant, and in fact not even that. A mewling whine if anything. It’s my slice of internet, I’ll write what I want.

For the next few minutes, if you’d be so kind as to indulge me, I’d like you to step into the musty world of your imagination. Picture yourself in another world, to all intents and purposes the same as the one we inhabit right now; the same trees, the same birds in the sky, even the same dross infesting every radio station and music chart. Imagine a day like another in this parallel universe, except that today you have a job interview.

On your arrival at said interview you note that all is as it should be. The desk is on the floor rather than the ceiling, the secretary has the standard number and shape of limbs, the water cooler contains not blood but H2O. So far so good. However on entering the office you can’t help but notice something and are barely able to stifle a laugh. The chief recruitment officer of this prestigious city firm is wearing decorative tassles dangling from each elbow, tassles not unlike a cheap stripper’s pasties. You’re willing to shrug this off as a harmless spot of eccentricity until he calls attention to something lacking in your attire.

“I couldn’t help noticing you didn’t bother to wear tassles. Didn’t the email clearly state that you were to attend the interview in office dress?”
“Erm, excuse me?”
“We’re a professional firm here and we expect our employees to dress accordingly.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t follow…”
“How can we expect you to perform to our standards if you can’t meet a standard dress code? And more to the point, how will our clients be able to place any level of trust in you if you don’t appear up to the job?”
“And this has exactly what to do with those tassles?”
“Ah, I see, you’re one of those. Making a statement. Asserting your individuality and non-conformist status. Just my luck…”
“I’m really confused. I don’t see how my wearing or not wearing dangly things from my elbows can have any bearing whatsoever on my ability to appear professional and, more to the point, my ability to do my job.”
“Good day.”
“I said, ‘Good day.'”

Cue the door slam and the disgraced walk home.

Sounds odd, or oddly familiar? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the necktie. Having recently joined a company whose official dress code requires the daily donning of this accoutrement, one which hasn’t graced my form in the past eighteen years save for funerals, I’ve had ample time to consider just how ridiculous it really is. Let’s consider purpose for one thing. Does it keep your  neck any warmer? I can’t honestly say I ever noticed any such benefit and even if it did then surely it would be far more suited as an outdoor garment in colder climes and entirely unnecessary here in Taiwan? And anyway, I’m sure we already have something taking care of the neck-heat department. It’s a scraf or a scurf or something like that.

So temperature is out. Perhaps it’s something to do with security, fulfilling much the same function as belt, braces or suspenders? Let’s put it to the test – does removal of tie lead to increased risk off spontaneous shirt de-buttoning? You’ll have to take my word for it but in all my years as a dedicated non-tie wearer I’ve yet to experience a single instance of my shirt suddenly dropping open mid-meeting. I’ve had shoes slip off, shorts fall around my ankles and hats disappearing in a stiff breeze but never once have my buttons let me down. So let’s scratch that from the list.

And then there’s.. what? I’ve searched every possibility but can’t find any other function. Okay then so it’s not about that, it must somehow make us appear more commanding, more respectable, more knowledgeable. Well, yes, if you accept flaps of fabric protruding from below the chin as a mark of experience and ability. I mean just think back to when we were still up in the trees. A monkey couldn’t get anywhere in the tribe unless he had a good bit of vine around his neck. Oh, wait, wouldn’t that just leave him open to sudden strangulation from a would-be usurper. Hmm, there’s a flaw in that logic.
And that’s my problem with neckties. There is no logic to them, no rhyme nor reason whatsoever that could compel any sane person to either wear them or to put stock in another wearer. It’s a ribbon tied round your neck. A slip of cotton draped down your front. An elbow tassle. Seriously, if it looks that good to you then why not just paint them onto shirts and be done with it?

And another thing while I’m on a roll – what on earth is the big deal about ironing shirts? Or trousers for that matter? “Oh heavens to Betsy, I can’t possibly perform my allocated duties, my sleeve has a bit of a wrinkle in it.” Since when did flatness of attire correlate to improved faculties or dependability? Is it something to do with making you more aerodynamic and therefore more suited to swiftly traverse today’s teeming office environment? Doesn’t it simply suggest that the wearer of creaseless clothing has nothing better to do with his time than apply hot metal and steam to his apparel day after day? Seriously, get out for a run instead, the improved fitness actually will increase your abilities in all aspects of life. For the record I have never once looked at someone in a position of respect/authority and had my opinion of them in any way diminished by the fact that their ensemble did not appear to have been run over by a steamroller.

Oh well, if anything it goes to show I must really love this job. Way back in the mists of time I actually turned down a position involving a fair pay rise largely because it would have involved me being required to wear such fancy dress costumes every day and becoming a part of the city’s clone army. Here I am working unsociable hours for far-from-stellar money and complaining not a jot (apart from this rambling jest of a post) because the job and situation more than make up for it.

One last thing though – don’t get me started on cufflinks. Ever.


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