Cultural ties

by Osita Nwanevu

Detail of a painting ca. 1925 shows the lower face and shoulders of a young man wearing a dark jacket and waistcoat, white shirt and crimson tie.
Detail of painting by Ethel Walker (1861 - 1951), 'Young Man With a Red Tie', public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Presidents Obama, Biden and Clinton meet before a fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall; all are seated, in dark jackets and shirts unbuttoned at the throat.
Screenshot: YouTube (via Biden campaign)
(L-R) G7 world leaders European Council President Charles Michel, Italian PM Mario Draghi, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.S. President Joe Biden, UK PM Boris Johnson, Japan's PM Fumio Kishida and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose during the 2022 G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps. All excepting von der Leyen are wearing dark suits, dark shoes, and light shirts unbuttoned at the throat, with no ties
Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed] via Flickr

What do these two pictures have in common? 

Up top, we have a group photo of Presidents Clinton, Obama, and Biden before their headline-making March fundraiser in New York City. And below, the attendees of a 2022 G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps. There are no neckties in either photo, but their absence is less interesting than who’s decided to ditch them. The most powerful people on the planet—including a few men who have or have had the ability, technically speaking, to extinguish life on Earth several times over—are increasingly opting for a mode of dress that is still generally called “business casual” but that we might as well just call business now. They are formal and formidable, but affectedly and conspicuously at ease; not relatable, exactly, but angled in the direction of relatability. All it took was losing the ties. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

Read this post and get our weekdaily newsletter for $3 a month