The perennially relevant Oscar Wilde once said, “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life.” I bear it in mind when clients are about to step into the ring of litigation and never forget the expectation for attorneys to don a necktie. Society’s expectations but more importantly, my own.
Why? We are visual creatures first and foremost, quickly assessing the landscape and its people within seconds. Your presentation tells a story, whether you are aware of it or not. You are signaling to the world via subtle visual cues regarding your values and priorities in life. The well groomed individual stands out from the slovenly by virtue of showing up. Often times, people tend to respect more those who respect themselves first. I have heard friends say that “Your personality is not the first thing people notice.” When others lay their eyes upon you, they see your countenance, framed by your choice of attire and ideally a strip of silk handsomely tied around one’s neck.
Why a tie? Because it is a true act of rebellion in our world. Because it looks nice. Because you can: it is frivolous and is essentially a fancy scarf, besides hiding one’s buttons, it serves no practical purpose. Yet the fact you wear one indicates you care about matters beyond practicality. You appreciate art, beauty, and fine things which heighten the senses or awaken the spirit. Sometimes, if we get lucky, we get to experience both at once. These moments that take our breath away are what life is all about.
Furthermore, many people have proclaimed the death of neckwear and in this sense I am a proudly anachronistic. Not while I inhabit this planet most certainly. Indeed, a look at most people in public reveals a dearth of neckties. That will not deter me, in fact it makes wearing a tie all the more enjoyable and countercultural. It is a statement of values which heighten and prize beauty, aesthetics, and elegance as things worthy of pursuit. Never mind the majority of the world in their informal wear, such fickle fashion tastes change too often to endure with any sense of timelessness. This author is quite immune to transitory fads and gives them no weight in the pursuit of elegance.
With one chance to make first impressions, what principle if any should guide one’s behavior? Part of living for yourself and dressing for yourself includes no regrets. A philosophy where you do things because they are the right thing to do, motivated by internal and inexorable forces. Showing up in public requires you to do so dressed well because you care about your own person. The first reason is simple: for yourself and your own well-being. A secondary motive may be that you also care about others and how they perceive you. Dressing well is a matter of good manners, according to Tom Ford and I agree. Much like shining your shoes, paying attention to detail shows you care about things beyond the thoughts swimming between your ears.
Good manners, like dressing well, are an indicator of discipline and effort. After all, it takes some effort, study, trial and error to find one’s style and get comfortable with it. I suggest you start today if you are to live life fully and attract all the good things you seek. There are people waiting to meet you because you command respect and exude confidence in your true act of rebellion. Opportunities abound and life is there for the taking. Go live yours in style and enjoy.
- Juan P. Bernal
From Jackson, MS
August 28th, 2021