The comfort in these straitened times is tradition - which is swiftly achieved with the tie. Photo: James Davies
Go out looking like you want to be seen - reliable, respectable; a man who can deliver, not one of the boys,'' says Lizzie Wagner, a business etiquette expert. ''That's what I advised a politician who once told me he went tieless when he went out to his constituents.''
The same applies to the workplace. Today's workplace.
The tie is not redundant. What it is is overlooked and under-utilised and it is the clever worker - and even wiser boss - who makes a habit of knotting one on in the morning and keeping it on till leaving the office.
Mad Men's Don Draper and his fictional suave, tailored and inebriated contemporaries might have raised the tie in the public's consciousness but there's a certain school of men that has long-capitalised on its implications.
Wearing ''the old school tie'' may still have its benefits in certain professions (and then only if it's from certain private schools and then sometimes only from certain years) but it still comes with no guarantee that the wearer is not stupid.
Most effective in business in Australia today is the quality, textured, unshiny, solid-colour tie in blue or maroon, worn in a double Windsor.
Available to any man with a bit of nous and awareness, the younger the better for him. It's easily learnt.
''It's a sign of respect and good manners to wear a tie,'' Wagner says. ''Being solid and being reliable is projected through a tie.''
Of course there are certain workers who need to look supremely reliable - avaricious lawyers, all government workers and tiddly-tenterhooks management and mid-management - but it's everyone else who should be endeavouring to reap the benefit of the tie.
''If I was bombarded by a pack of journalists I'd talk to the one with the tie on, someone who looked like they were professional,'' Wagner says.
Tying a tie is a time-user in the time-stretched mornings. ''Pre-tie your tie and pop it over your head,'' Wagner says. Consider a bow tie if you fancy yourself uber-cool (which they are, selectively urbanely) or if you are in the medical sphere (ties, charmingly, are bacteria carriers). At lunchtime, food stains on ties are a liability.
''Ask for a glass of soda water - it gets rid of fatty stains,'' Wagner says. And red wine? ''Pour on white.''
Wagner believes not wearing a tie is as bad mannered as wearing a tie that ends, on a big tummy, at the bellybutton with ''a vast distance to the belt line''.
Seems the comfort in these straitened times is tradition. It's swiftly achieved with the tie. And cuff links won't go astray. Go for an ultra-polished presentation. Says Wagner: ''Dress for the big people's world.'' And you might be OK.