The Most Depressing Picture Of The Year

Ladies and gentlemen, the most depressing picture of the year. Yes, worse than the pic of Joe Biden bringing muffins to lock-ins during the government shutdown.

The future is business casual.
The future is business casual.

These, my dear readers, are the “leaders” of the (what used to be called) free world.

Angela Merkel looks like an LCWR nun on her way to a lecture on the Theological Importance of Pantsuits. David Cameron resembles one of those guys stumbling to the continental breakfast at the company’s annual sales meeting after a long and unsuccessful night at the hotel bar.

And just what is Enrico Letta so happy about? That he was the only guy who thought about khakis? Saying anything about The One would be racist, so I’ll remain mute. I can only imagine that the French/Semi-French contingent were thinking “La cravate est morte!”

Putin had probably stripped off his shirt altogether and was out of frame stalking a journalist. Shinzo Abe, the only wise one of the group, was evidently so embarrassed about the assemblage that he carefully avoided the camera.

Damn politicians. What JFK did to the hat, Obama and confréres want to do to the tie. (I stole that line from the Blonde Bombshell.)

Oh, yes. According to the Wall Street Journal Mr Obama “even convinced Chinese President Xi Jinping to go tieless when they met this summer.” If only he could have talked him into eschewing hair dye, then we’d be somewhere. But why talk him out of a tie?

A lot of ill-informed men say they don’t need it. Sure they don’t. They don’t need underwear, either. But there’s still good reasons for not going without.

The paper dug up a quote from somebody nobody wanted to hear from, a certain Gavin Polone, who said, “It’s stupid. It makes no sense. What does it do? It’s just a decoration, an affectation. If I see a colleague wearing a tie, I usually ask if they’re going to a funeral or a job interview, or if they’ve been indicted.”

If you want to see what Polone looks like without a tie, click here; not that I recommend it. You can practically read his thoughts: “Do I look caring?” Ugh. And did you notice in Polone’s quote the tacit realization that to appear like a grown up and attend events intended for mature adults that a tie is a necessity? What Polone is really saying is, “I like to be a slob and you can’t make me change.”

A tie is not “just a decoration.” It is there to provided a necessary visual balance, to even out the, what would otherwise be, abrupt transition of your neck popping out of your shirt to the expanse below. Without a tie your head appears too large, like it doesn’t really belong with the rest of the outfit. Go tie-less and your chest looks smaller. But put on a tie and balance is restored.

When gentlemen first thought of becoming guys, they didn’t toss out their ties but invented replacements, like the turtle neck. Not that this is recommended, but the idea was to “relax” and still maintain the balance, i.e. hide the neck. Incidentally, a cravat (in the American usage of the word) is far, far better than a tie when not wearing a coat. Wearing a tie without a coat and people think want to sell them insurance.

If you insist on not wearing a tie but do wear a jacket, and you’re not going to button the top button of your shirt, then at least leave the coat unbuttoned. Buttoning the coat is sending a mixed signal: formal informality.

Was it exhaustion with formality that caused our leaders to appear like “one of the people”? How far will the horror of egalitarianism spread? How long until we see Francois Hollande with a Je Suis Avec Stupide t-shirt over “dress” jeans? Could it be the president will show up to a press conference on Obamacare in a knit shirt emblazoned with the UnitedHealthcare Logo?


  1. Igor

    Революция против монархий не страшна, – страшна революция против носового платка.
    (М.А. Алданов)
    The revolution against monarchy is not frightening, – the frightening one is the revolution against handkerchief.

  2. Ray

    In the 1970s I bought a leisure suit. I wore it one time and said, what the hell was I thinking? I gave it away. Everyone can make a dress mistake.

  3. Phil B

    Very nice rant. Actually, it could have been worse – polo shirts, cargo shorts and dweeby ball caps, or mom jeans all around.

  4. Larry Geiger

    Unfortunately, one of the few areas of life where you appear to be clueless. ALL GOOD people support board shorts and t-shirts as the only necessary attire. Ties were invented by very evil folks to inhibit the inhalation of air to the brain by folks smarter than them 🙂

  5. Person of Choler

    Forget the offenses against taste in clothing. The most depressing feature of that picture is the reminder these incompetent quacks are the so-called leaders of the so-called free world.

  6. max

    Polo shirts, cargo shorts & dweeby ball caps have been a much better choice and sent a clear message. The message sent by this picture is “we’re a bunch of serous/casual people engaged in important/frivolous business which is important trivia and we’re dressed up like adults but aren’t old enough to knot a tie.” Well except for 1) Cameron who sends the clear message of “too much tequila last night, please make the sun less bright” and 2) Merkel who seems to be saying “please buy my brownies at this bake sale.”

  7. We are in a serious leadership crisis in all countries of the Western World. That is what is depressing.

  8. Sheri

    There is a serious “dressing down” in many places. I don’t know how many of you watch the
    “new” version of Hawaii 5-0 (yes, I’m risking my credibility here, I know), but not only did one detective have a sex change (of course the original was on in the late 60’s and through the 70’s when gender was still what you were born with), but they dress like adolescents. On most detective shows, the detectives wear suits. I always thought that was so in a shoot-out, people would instinctively avoid shooting the well-dressed men, but now if involved in a gun fight, one could very easily decide the 5-0 detective was actually a bad guy and shoot them.

    Perhaps we just dress in accordance with our mental ages and our actual seriousness about life. Which puts most of the country at about age 5 and totally capricious.

  9. DAV

    “Wearing a tie without a coat and people think you want to sell them insurance.”

    Strangely, at least one of those in the photo want you to buy insurance — and rather insistently.

  10. Ties are the evolutionary descendants of sashes and stoles of office.

    Lack of ties is the literal and metaphoric abdication of accountability to one’s official duty.

    Archie Goodwin observed that while he dressed down when he knew he had to spend time in the slammer, Nero Wolfe in contrast dressed to the nines. It was a clear statement of philosophy left to the reader, about power, servitude, and freemen unbowed by circumstance.


  11. poetcomic1

    I have a phobia of dressed down leadership. WHERE ARE THE SUITS! WHERE ARE THE ‘DADS’. WHERE ARE THE…GROWN-UPS! It is like a nightmare world run by children in play clothes.

  12. John B

    Tieless and/or open-neck not with a suit.

    Tieless, open-neck with a jacket (open) needs a bold light colour or a dark colour shirt with button down collar, and buttons darker that the shirt.

    The button-down collar brings order to the neckline; the contrasting button mimic a tie.

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