Search the Site

What Is Your Necktie Hiding?

If you’re wearing a necktie right now, you might want to take a moment to loosen it — especially if you’re a doctor.

Years after studies first found that dangerous bacteria routinely hitch rides on the neckties of doctors, U.K. health officials have banished the old four-in-hand, along with jewelry and long sleeves, from their hospitals. They hope the ban will slow the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a so-called superbug that accounts for more than 40 percent of inpatient blood infections in the U.K. (Health officials in the U.S. might be advised to follow suit: a 2004 study found that half of the neckties worn by doctors in a New York hospital harbored dangerous pathogens.)

But your tie just might be hiding something besides germs. In a letter to the Financial Times, top Google lawyer Peter Fleischer had the following to say about neckties:

Decorative camouflage for the business suit, designed to shield the middle-aged male physique, with its shrinking shoulders and protruding paunch, from feeling sufficiently self-conscious to hit the gym…. Wouldn’t you like to know whether your business partners are fit? Why should you trust a man in business if he abuses his own body?

Or in politics? Political reporters often fawn over candidates who go tie-less on the campaign trail.

If Fleischer’s crusade catches on, and the tie becomes a symbol of shiftiness, will the presidential necktie go the way of the presidential beard?