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'Ties impose conformity and remind the wearer that his bosses have him by the neck'.

Byline: By Paul Rowland Western Mail

A newly formed global society has called for an end to the humble necktie as it faces a fashion onslaught from the open-neck look. The Mandarin Collar Society, formed by Hong Kong-based businessman Raphael le Masne de Chermont, has issued a manifesto demanding the end of ties, describing them as restrictive, unnecessary, and potentially damaging to health. But while offices around the nation adopt less formal dress codes, there have been warnings that abandoning the tie - so long the ultimate symbol of formal male attire - risks sending out the wrong message. Despite the adherence of several politicians, most famously David Cameron, to an open-neck look, Welsh political consultant Steve Morgan said there remains a time and place for a more formal appearance.

'I think it's only shifted in certain circumstances,' said Mr Morgan, who formerly worked for both Bill Clinton and John Kerry in the US and now runs the consultancy Morgan Allen Moore.

'The idea that we would see David Cameron without a tie at Prime Minister's Questions is still inconceivable.

'Certainly a tie is always worn when politicians want to give a formal message to the public.

'The one that is perceived to present the right message is a red tie and a blue shirt. You'll often see Blair and even Bush wearing those colours.

'You will see many of them without a tie on Sundays, and in certain circumstances doing walkabouts, but it's inconceivable that it would be abandoned when they want to deliver a serious message.'

Mr Cameron last month raised eyebrows by appearing at the Conservatives' winter ball sans cravate, but his relaxed approach to formal dress would find favour in the offices of Cardiff law firm Hek Jones.

'On a daily basis, we'll normally wear trousers, shirt and jumper,' said Paul Jones, a partner in the firm.

'If the client is a little old school, we will stick a suit and tie on.

'Normally we bring a suit and tie with us to work, but end up hanging it on the back of the door.

'People don't want a stuffy old solicitor these days.'

Mr Jones said the tone of his outfit tended to have an impact on his clients, and often himself as well.

'For most people, particularly with residential deals and with younger clients, there's no barrier when you don't wear a tie.

'People feel freer to speak their minds and see you as more approachable.

'But then if I'm sitting in a meeting with two older guys, and I'm wearing a tie, I'll often feel a bit more confident.'

A series of companies, including big corporates like Admiral and British Gas, have abandoned their dress codes in recent years, but the trend has not affected retailers of menswear. Shoppers at Howells in Cardiff can - and regularly do - spend anything from pounds 15 to pounds 70 on ties, according to store manager designate Natalie Bartz. 'It's a nice way of finishing off a formal outfit,' she said. 'If you wear a conservative suit, you can express your personality a bit with a choice of tie through the colour and style that you choose.' Styles expected to be popular this year, she added, would be those with monochrome colour schemes, nautical themes, and, conversely, bright colours were also likely to be a key theme. According to the Mandarin Collar Society's manifesto, unveiled in twin launches this week in London and New York, ties are 'historical relics', which not only 'impose conformity, invite enslavement, and remind the wearer that his superiors have him by the neck', but also pose a health risk. There are reported to be links between having a tie knotted too tightly around one's neck and developing glaucoma. Ties, the society says, are fundamentally useless, serving 'no obvious function other than as a soup bib'. The document concludes with the words, 'Loosen the noose! End the oppression.' Olympic sprinter Linford Christie and French chef Pierre Gagnaire have already registered as members of the society, which judging by the popularity of the open-neck look, appears likely to grow.: Ties that bind:With the help of our clues, can you say which prominent Welsh organisations are represented by these ties? A. Hopefully, you'll be going places with this tie. B. How appropriate to have the claw marks of a tiger on the front of this bay-front organisation. C. Should really be a nautical white bird on the front of this tie. D. Not what's normally on the chests of these birds of prey. E. One way to look smart at the big match. F. All aboard - don't be the last! Answers: A: Arriva Wales B: National Assembly C: Swansea Council D: Ospreys E: Millennium Stadium F: First Travel
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 8, 2007
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