Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On tie clips

As some of you know, I have been imprisoned in a full-time job for most of this year. For the first time in nearly a decade I have had to dress up and put on a tie almost every day.

And while I dislike wearing ties intensely, I do get to bring out my small collection of one of mankind's most under-rated inventions: tie clips.

See, as much as I hate ties, I happen to love tie clips. They are mindbogglingly useful - they keep your tie from blowing around, from dipping in your food, from getting all wet when you wash your hands. When you're wearing a suit, the tie clip can keep your tie fixed at exactly the perfect rakish angle.

And they look nice (at least I think so. "Very Spencer Tracy," observed one movie-obsessed friend once. I am not sure if it was an approving comment or not). I have gold ones. Silver ones. Inlaid ones. They're cool.

But wearing a tie clip has begun to make me sad in a sort of existential way. And that is because a tie, to which a tie clip is a nifty accessory, is in itself perhaps the most useless accessory ever invented by mankind. It serves no practical purpose at all and is only marginally attractive, so it serves a limited decorative purpose.

Nobody really likes ties.

This has forced me to contemplate the place in the universe of the useful little tie clip - what does it mean to be the world's most useful addition to the world's least useful accessory ?