(We nicked both these photos from James Joyner.)
Joyner also did a lot of this round-up, but we’ll just repeat it here.
Jon Stonger wants to get rid of the tie:
So the tie is traditional. So are togas, and they look comfy. Why do we still wear the tie?
One possibility is that enough people think that a tie looks good, so it stays in fashion. I understand nothing of fashion (and don’t want to) but this doesn’t seem to make sense. Ties are worn far more often in the context of business or politics then they are by celebrities and movie stars. When you think about it, a tie is really just a colorful piece of cloth hanging from someone’s throat. It makes just as much sense to find shiny objects to stick in our hair or colorful feathers to shove up our ass.
Another possibility is that men just like to be choked. After all, some people like to be tied up, and this is just a different version of that. We’re even honest enough to call it a tie (same word as tying someone’s hands or feet) rather than ‘cravat’ (or ‘noose’). Perhaps I’m deviant because I don’t enjoy the sensation of pressure around my throat. Maybe everyone else gets their jollies from oxygen restriction.
Of course, if you’re going to play S&M asphyxia games at the office, it’s important to have everyone’s consent, and they certainly don’t have mine. If there was a necktie-safeword, I would use it.
I don’t think that most people find ties to be spectacularly fashionable. I don’t think most men find them comfortable. If you had a group of 100 men and you announced that starting tomorrow, all of them were going to have to wear goofy-looking strands of rope wrapped tightly around their throats in order to come to work, they would all refuse.
John Derbyshire has an ode to ties:
I shall be sorry to see the tie disappear. I still have my school ties (both regular and Old Boys) and my college tie. The latter is a replacement. I lost the original on my travels, and went to the tie shop for a replacement. This wasn’t just any tie shop, it was the tie shop, a wonderfully atmospheric old place in Southampton Row, west-central London. The proprietor was a very old man in my college days (mid-1960s); and he was still running the place, and still looked the same, 25 years later when I bought that replacement. It’s possible my imagination has embroidered the memory, but I could swear he used to wear a tail coat in the shop. He could get you any tie at all — club, regiment, school, college, guild, lodge, . . . Last time I was there, my father had just passed away. I asked the old guy if he could supply me with the tie of Dad’s old regiment, the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, already long defunct. He tottered over to an old wooden cabinet, pulled out a drawer, and produced the tie. I almost bought it as a memento, and now wish I had. It would of course have been grossly wrong of me to wear it, not having served in the KSLI myself.
Andy McCarthy at The Corner:
Derb, I’ve noticed that President Obama frequently forgoes the necktie — lately, even in public appearances. That reminded me — I have no idea why — that the Iranian regime has shunned the necktie ever since Khomeini pronounced it a symbol of Western decadence. I’ve always assumed that’s why Michael Ledeen is often pictured wearing a big, bold tie — you know, as a signal to the other conspirators.
Conor Clarke at Sully’s place:
I too have absolutely no idea why McCarthy would draw such a connection.
Amanda Terkel at Think Progress brings some artwork:
One of the right wing’s favorite petty complaints about the Obama administration is over its dress code. Former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card has said that President Obama has brought a “kind of locker room experience” to the White House. The Washington Times yesterday published an account from an “observant source” who complained that “[f]lip-flops, tennis shoes, unbuttoned dress shirts with ties, and casual wear are now in style at the White House. Razors are out for men. Many male staffers seem to shave every couple of days.”
The afore mentioned piece in the Washington Times by Jennifer Harper:
“The new Obama staffers, usually no older than 30 years of age, seem to have never heard that loose lips sink ships. Instead of tucking their blue or green White House badges discretely into a shirt pocket as Bush staffers did, the Obama staffers flaunt it in public. And their loud talk is always about shop. We recently listened to White house staffers in a pizza parlor on the 1700 block of G Street discussing details about forthcoming White House policy toward communist China. On another occasion, at Potbelly Sandwiches, we overheard White House staffers discussing details of the upcoming Russian summit and policy toward the Republic of Georgia.”
“The happening and hip Obama staffers look and act like they are on campus. On the afternoon of July 31, three White House staffers were at McReynolds Liquor at 1776 G St. The three loaded up boxes of wine bottles, hard liquor and several bags of ice and carried the party straight into the Old Executive Office Building. Another July day, other young White House staffers were seen carrying two cases of Bud Light out of the White House personnel office.”
“Flip-flops, tennis shoes, unbuttoned dress shirts with ties, and casual wear are now in style at the White House. Razors are out for men. Many male staffers seem to shave every couple of days. While it might seem cute and whimsical to have a young bunch take over the reigns of power, the world is more serious than these folks seem to realize.”
A few points. One: Who cares? Second: In all my interactions with White House staff they’ve been impeccably dressed. Three: Who cares? Four: It’s actually incredibly irrational for men to be walking around wearing suits and ties in the DC summer. Five: Who cares? Six: On behalf of bearded Americans I’m offended by the implication that a man with some hair on his face can’t do a serious job. Our greatest president wore a beard!
Back to the necktie debate, Shorts And Pants:
Is your place a business ever “casual” in nature? Does your Corporate policy occasionally “bend” the rules of formal dress for the sake of a more “relaxed” environment? If so, you too can be the President of Iran! Get excited, America. Our President doesn’t always wear a neck-tie, which to some apparently makes him a terrorist.
WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE SIGNS COMING. Ladies and gentleman, the demise of National Review continues in full swing.
How many people will rise up in rage about this issue? The pitch forks will come out of the barn, and the next episode of Animal Farm shall commence in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. That’s a hell of a lot faster than a NASA launch.
Onward from neckties to shorts (see, that’s why we ended with shorts and pants, for the nice segue possibilities.)
Robin Givhan at WaPo:
Obama, who joined the president and their two daughters for an excursion to the national park, looked like any other American tourist. Indeed, many sad-sack sightseers could take a few lessons from her style. The shorts fit her figure; she was not wearing a souvenir top that read: “My family went to Washington and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.” She was not sporting a fanny pack. Or wearing beaten-up rubber flip-flops. She looked fine.
But that doesn’t make the ensemble okay.
(Kind and civil enemies of fashion: Do I have more pressing concerns on my to-discuss list? Yes, I do. But I’m sandwiching this in between negotiating world peace and restricting short selling on Wall Street.)
The image of Obama in her shorts was strikingly modern. And for a long time, modern was not a word typically associated with the role of first lady. The women who have most recently occupied that nebulous position often seemed terribly constrained by its traditions, by the contradictory demands of the public, by the desire to do the nation proud and by the need to live a fulfilling and authentic life. Balancing all that is impossible, and so these women have cherry-picked some things that are inviolable and gone on from there. The public has been free to applaud or criticize each woman’s choices. The resulting analysis has had first ladies declared, among other things: elitist, dowdy and tragic victims of chauvinism.
Bringing up the subject of the current first lady’s shorts — indeed even admitting to noticing them — already has people booting up their laptops and taking big, gulping swigs of self-righteousness before firing off e-mails and tweets declaring the whole discussion pointless. But until the West Wing — and not the East — starts regularly fielding inquiries regarding china patterns, decorators and the menu for upcoming White House dinners and luncheons, the first lady will be burdened with matters of aesthetics. And her person remains the primary device in communicating her philosophy.
Anya Strzemien at Huffington Post:
When we asked readers on Monday whether it was appropriate for the first lady to wear shorts on Air Force One, nearly 13,000 opinions poured in. In response to the question “Does Michelle Obama have the right to bare legs?,” 59% of readers voted “Absolutely,” while 25% believed it was fine, but suggested she wear longer shorts next time. Only 17% said that shorts are inappropriate for a first lady.
Joan at Right Fashions:
The Obama’s were reportedly visiting the Grand Canyon. Sounds like a reasonable place to wear shorts, eh? I personally think she has a very keen sense of fashion, something that’s very refreshing after some of the frumpy First Ladies we’ve seen recently.
But who really thought the shorts were too short? Some feel it is the product of a slow news-month, and that there is really no evidence of any outrage over the shorts at all. One poll, conducted by the Chicago Tribune, found that over 80% responded that they were perfectly appropriate.
No doubt about it. This story’s got legs. The first lady took a look-see at the Grand Canyon with her family this weekend while the rest of the country got a good look at her gams. Michelle Obama braved the blistering Arizona sun with an even braver style of shorts.
This winter we got a view of the fashionista-in-chief’s powerful arms, and now there’s proof that she’s got stems to match. The bare legs set off a firestorm of buzz on the Web, with looky-loos typing in “michelle obama short shorts” into the Search box.
This is probably a no-win situation for Mrs. Obama. Had she disembarked wearing a sun dress or linen Bermudas, critics would have scoffed that she was an elitist who didn’t know how to dress for a hike.