An Open Letter To Richard Branson’s No Tie Policy

An Open Letter To Richard Branson’s No Tie Policy

richard branson no ties

It is no secret that Richard Branson does not care for ties, and he’s trying to convince everyone and their mom to get on his bandwagon.  He has gone so far as to promote people to carry scissors around and cut off other people’s ties (which brings to mind scenes from my beloved The Wire when the homicide detectives would cut off their sleeping-on-the-job compatriots’ ties).  As you can imagine, I am not the first men’s style site to pick up on this (check here and here), and I am sure I will not be the last.

It seems that his main argument against the wearing of ties is that they represent some form of old school stodgy business and that they limit creative thinking; not to mention they can be uncomfortable.  Although I agree in parts to the first and third ideas; I could not disagree more with the second.  But before I go further I should say that I am not of the opinion that men should always wear a tie, nor do I think they should always not wear a tie.  But I do believe there is and should be a sizable place in a man’s wardrobe for his ties.

In another, more detailed article for his column over at Entrepreneur Sir Branson (he was knighted in 2000) also makes the argument that suits and ties are obsolete in the workplace.  Which again, I disagree with; but I do understand his point and rationale.  Personally, I think he overlooks the fact that there are some professions that require the wearing of a suit and tie; law (mainly while in the courtroom), politics and banking come to mind first.  Then there are also certain establishments (like certain restaurants and clubs) that require a jacket and tie; but his case is primarily against ties for work, not for social settings.  That said, I take most issue with his argument that ties can serve to limit creativity.

richard branson no ties

Let’s think how ties could potentially limit one’s creativity.  As Sir Branson says, they can be uncomfortable which can distract people from creative thinking.  In my years I have never really connected my creative thoughts to my comfort level.  You see, I think you are either creative or you are not.  I don’t think that it is necessarily something that you are born with (although some people may be), but it is something that you can bring out in yourself.  I think creative thoughts and ideas can come from any state of mind; intoxicated or sober, comfortable or uncomfortable, naked or clothed, sitting or standing…  You get the point.

And then there is a whole other way to think about the issue.  What if wearing a suit actually helps someone be creative?  What if some men take joy in pairing the tie with their shirt, shoes, socks, suit suspenders and pocket square.  I know I do.  What if this is their creative outlet?  I remember when I worked as an auditor at Deloitte.  Putting together my day’s dress was sometimes the highlight my day before I could sneak in a nap in the cafeteria at lunch; or if I was feeling particularly unmotivated I would even get a few minutes a shut eye on the toiler.  Sad, I know; but perhaps you should go be an auditor and get back to me on that.  No matter what I did, I did not find near the joy in pairing together a simple dress shirt and pants as I did when pairing together the various elements that go with a suit.

Personally, I enjoy wearing suits.  However, I often get annoyed when people ask me why I am wearing a suit.  Sometimes there is no reason, I just felt like it.  What say you to that Sir Branson?

Like me, there are other men who enjoy wearing suits (and ties), for a variety of reasons.  A tie can mean many things to different men.  So, what if some men prefer to wear a jacket and tie?  What if that is how they feel most comfortable?  What if that is what they think they look best wearing?    Some men even think of a suit as a form of armor (emotional armor, no doubt).  Others think of it as a uniform or status symbol.  Oh, and women seem to think of a man in suit and tie as some form of sex symbol.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had more than one girl tell me that she wouldn’t mind if I were to tie her up with my tie, no doubt sometimes inspired by the habits of one Christian Grey.  Excuse me for a moment, but I find it pretty damn hard to argue with that.

But after all of this, Sir Branson does admit that he will don a tie when absolutely necessary, such as when attending state dinners.  So I suppose all is not lost.

richard branson no ties


Photo credit: here, here and here.


  1. Your tie can’t be uncomfortable: your shirt collar can be too tight though

    I think it’s Sir Richard, not Sir Branson, but, anyway, would Sir No-Tie mind if I wore an obscene T-shirt (I mean really vulgar!) into a conference with him? Bet he would. How about a G-string and bustier, bearing in mind I’m an overweight 63 yr. old man?

  2. Thanks for citing my article, Justin. You spoke your thoughts much more eloquently than myself. I was mainly reactionary and focused on how good suits and ties make men look, plus how (as you say) it /can/ be creative to pair ties and other accessories with your clothing.

    Regarding your thought, “But before I go further I should say that I am not of the opinion that men should always wear a tie, nor do I think they should always not wear a tie. But I do believe there is and should be a sizable place in a man’s wardrobe for his ties.” I couldn’t agree more. I don’t always wear ties when I wear a sport coat (I personally don’t care for the tieless business suit but it can work with linen or cotton summer suits), but they shouldn’t be completely dismissed out of hand.

  3. Mr Branson is a cretinous publicity hound. His specialty is to pander to the lowest common denomimator. He is hardly a style icon or creative for that matter.

  4. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites
    really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later on. Cheers

  5. I think most are missing the point here. Richard’s point is not about the choice to wear a tie or not, it’s about situations where there is no choice. As an example, when invited to a wedding, you’re often expected to wear a suit and tie. To me this is incredibly selfish as already i’ve made the effort to attend the wedding, buy gifts, spend time with that person … is that not enough? I think we all place too higher expectations on other people rather than allowing ourselves to be happy with ourselves. If it were my wedding, I would be delighted that people turned up, and wouldn’t give a monkeys what they were wearing. An obscene T shirt or a G string would probably make me laugh. The only people it would cause an issue with would be the Tie wearing brigade!

  6. This is an excellent defense of wearing a suit and tie. I myself really enjoy wearing a necktie, and a suit except during the hot, humid Southern summers. I often wear a tie just because I want to; this article of men’s apparel kind of causes me to feel comfortable about myself, or even really manly. (Indeed, a woman wearing this article of menswear offends me; they have their own clothing articles unique to their gender!) Also, I agree with the writer that many women consider a man in a suit and tie to be sexy.