Reflecting Power and Strength with a Power Tie
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The idea of a power tie might seem relatively new to most people. Mention “power tie” and images of recent tycoon, both real and imaginary, might spring to mind. The Gordon Gekko character from the movie “Wall Street” was an icon of the power tie, while in the real world, Donald Trump may represent the essence of a power tie-wearing businessman.
But in one form or another, power ties have been around for many years, going as far back as the 16th century.
The idea of a power tie is simple: a tie worn by an individual to demand respect and attention. A power tie is meant to compliment a suit of clothing, but not in a mundane or average way, but rather as a splash of color that is not gaudy but, well, powerful.
One of the first forms of power tie was actually very early in the creation of the tie itself. In the 1600s, Croatian mercenaries began fighting for France in the Thirty Years War. These mercenaries often wore pieces of cloth tied around their necks and tucked into their shirt, partly because of fashion and partly because of protection from the cold. This style soon caught the attention of King Louis XIV who adopted the style for his own wardrobe, making it the ultimate power tie. Others in the royal court adopted this style as well and it became the favorite fashion accessory of the upper class.
Ties soon became popular with the working class as well, so much so that even the lowliest worker during the industrial revolution wore a tie to work. To set themselves apart, the aristocracy began to add certain colors to their power ties to represent their status or class. In the late 19th century, ties in England began to use patterns and colors that designated their wearer’s school affiliation, their social status, even their military rank. The dark blue and magenta colors in the Brigade of Guards power tie, for instance, was selected because the blue represented the blue blood of the Royal Family and the red blood of the members of the Brigade.
As most nations moved from industry-based to corporate-based, ties took on an added significance. Because nearly everyone in the workforce was now wearing a tie, the colors and patterns took on a whole new significance. A power tie now meant less about what you were born into but what you had accomplished. CEOs and executives began to wear men’s neckwear that was different than the ones work by the midlevel or entry-level workers. Whether it was a different color or a different style (bow tie, etc.), men’s neckwear for the upper level management was in a class by itself.
Today, power ties may not have a particular designation such as school ties, royalty ties or guild ties, but they have more to do with the look and the feeling they evoke. Today, power ties are ones that dominate the look of the wearer but not in a gaudy or ostentatious way. Power ties today usually have more to do with the quality, fabric and color of the tie and how it plays off of the suit.
The suit is an important part of creating a power tie look. Power suits are usually “royal” colors such as different shades of dark blue or black. And a power tie is one that contrasts sharply with the suit (but not too much) but is also of a “regal” color. The classic power tie is a sharp red tie that stands out and commands attention but not in a gaudy. There may be subtle designs on the red power tie (small repeating designs, or a pattern) but nothing that takes away from the commanding color.
Or a power tie can be a color on the far ends of the spectrum, such as silver/platinum or salmon. When worn with a dark suit, say a dark blue or a black suit, they create a commanding fashion presence. To avoid blending in with all of the other men who are going for the power tie look, try a contrasting color tie with a unique striped pattern (but not too unique): stripes that are in the same color family but not exactly the same color, a contracting small pattern (nothing too large or ornate).
Experiment with different power tie looks to find the one that helps you stand apart from the crowd.