Sanjeev Bansal, 36
Head of finance, Premier Oil, India
For this chartered accountant, who started his career with the now-defunct Arther Andersen, wearing ties was never a joy. Till he quit his job, that is. “It was a must to wear a tie daily and it was torturous to have it around your neck 24/7. After 10 years, when I put in my resignation, the first thing I did was go into the alley behind the office building in Connaught Place and burn my favourite tie. It was a symbolic gesture.”
Now, Bansal wears ties for pleasure and on most days, his wife Purvi helps him choose which one to put on. “I have a collection of about 25 to 30 ties which I upgrade every time I visit London. I buy ties only from Tie Rack at Oxford Street because they are cheap and of good quality. For £10 to £15 you can pick a tie which looks formal.” He has three sets of ties—formal, semi-formal and fun, like the Mickey Mouse tie he bought at Disneyland. “Whenever I come back with a new collection of four or five ties, the old ones move to the not-so-formal wear rack. The fun ties are the ones I wear to parties and kiddie functions.”
Manu Goswamy, 36
Head of sales and marketing, Jaypee Greens
Manu Goswamy knows first-hand just how important a necktie can be—when the situation demands it. His favourite necktie memory goes back to the early 1990s, when he was a B-school student. The occasion was a friend’s engagement and before his pal went out to get “leg-shackled”, Goswamy, along with another friend, took him out drinking in Delhi.
“Somewhere along the line, we had taken our ties off and left the pub without retrieving them. Halfway to the engagement venue, we realized we weren’t wearing them,” recalls Goswamy. The poor to-be-betrothed, who was dressed up in an expensive imported suit, knew that turning up without a tie was not an option, and panicked. The revellers had no money left (all had been spent on buying some Dutch courage for the groom-to-be) to afford fancy ties. “We were students and had no credit cards. So we did the next best thing. We headed for the pavement next to Regal cinema and bought cheap polyester ties worth Rs25 each. I still laugh every time I think about how without that tie, my friend may not have gotten engaged and how far that Rs75 went towards gaining respectability and style for us.”
Anish Trivedi, 45
CMD, The Banyan Tree Communications
Trivedi is an investment banker turned media expert. Wearing ties was very much part of the work wardrobe, but it was given a twist when he turned veejay on the popular MTV show, Mangta Hai in the mid-1990s.
The team decided that as an ex-banker, Trivedi should keep part of his “uniform”. “We decided that no tie would ever be repeated and, of course, each one would be fun, not a boring banker’s tie, says Trivedi.” For each one of the 52 episodes, Trivedi had a new tie, most of which he remembers buying from the streets of New York. From dollar signs to Disney ties, he wore everything. Mangta Hai went off air, but Trivedi still owns part of that collection, “which is sometimes flicked by the kids”. His favourite tie, however, is an Hermès moon-and-stars tie he bought in 1994. “In fact, the best present I can get from anyone is an Hermès tie. They have a great collection and there is always a right tie available for every occasion.”
At present, he has a collection of over 50 ties, which he upgrades regularly.
THE EXPERT | RAVI BAJAJ
THE TIE’S JOURNEY
As tailoring skills improved, the old-fashioned scarf or cravat gained a more constructed form, finally emerging as the modern-day necktie. As with most things from that era, it originated in England and its arrival was not restricted to our shores; it accompanied the colonizers wherever they went. In fact, there’s a Hindi word for it too—kanth langot.
I feel a tie is a great unifier and it cuts across cultural and political boundaries. Believe it or not, it is a great conversation starter and for me, many good conversations have started with the simple sentence, “I love your tie.”
I am a great one for neckties. For me, Friday dressing means dowdy dressing, and it breaks my heart to see that the necktie is being abandoned. Do you know that in countries such as Mexico, it’s considered discourteous for a gentleman to attend a business meeting without a necktie?
In India, though, things are a bit different. We either wear them to work or to weddings and I think, in both cases, with much discomfort. Men should look at a tie as an accessory, to enhance their ensemble and add a dash of colour to their personalities.
Neckties can be worn as per fashion, but it remains an extension of one’s personality and, therefore, not much changes seasonally. Within the same genre, one can wear different ties to suit different occasions. So, if I was to wear a black and white suit, I would use a tie with a smaller motif for a business meeting and a tie with a floral print for an evening function.
Good neckties are always made of silk. Jacquard is the best weave for silk neckties. A real couture necktie is handmade and it takes seven folds to create it, hence the name seven-fold tie. While knotting can be left to an individual’s preference, the length is more or less set. It has to end at your belt buckle.
You don’t need a suit or blazer to wear one. It can be worn over a white shirt and jeans. Go ahead and dig out those neckties from the bottom drawers. They’re a top draw with the ladies, trust me.
(Ravi Bajaj is a well-known menswear designer based in Delhi)