Check out any art gallery, advertising agency or downtown bar where the cool kids hang out. Look at Justin Timberlake, Adam Brody, Elijah Wood or any other young actor who presumably is also not holding down a desk job. Necktie sales may have foundered in the decade or more since the words “casual Friday” entered men’s vocabularies, but in the last year or two, stylish men in their 20s and early 30s have embraced the old four-in-hand as a style statement—that is, as long as it is an optional one.
“There has been a dramatic increase among younger guys, who are age 18 to 34, expressing themselves by dressing up,” said Marshal Cohen, the chief retail analyst at NPD Group, which tracks clothing sales and trends in the US. “He is not hesitating, given the option, to grab a tie, and a fancy tie at that.” This is a news flash that will either amuse or dismay men in their 40s and 50s who, after years of wearing a tie to work, finally won the right to hang up the old choke chain.
But this is no ordinary necktie. A far cry from the storied “power ties” in aggressively coloured and printed silk twill that defined the power corridors of the 1980s, the defiantly low-key tie of today is destined for dress-up Thursday as well as casual Friday. It may be made of wool, cashmere, silk knit or glove leather; cut a pointedly skinny two-and-a-half inches wide; woven in plaid or printed with an unorthodox pattern of skulls with bunny ears. It may also boast a trendy label. Slightly offbeat in a laid-back way, the youthful tie is giving the old dress code a much-needed shot in the neck. ©2007/THE NEW YORK TIMES