‘Silk status’: is the tie a masculine symbol or a ‘colonial noose’?

The ties They made world news last week when Maori MP, Rawiri Waititi, was kicked out of the New Zealand Parliament debate. He refused to wear a tie and evocatively described her as a “colonial rope”.

Not that Mr. Waititi avoided ties. Rather, he explained that the Hei tiki The traditional greenstone pendant he wore instead represented for him both a tie and a bow to his people, culture and Maori rights.

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A post shared by Rawiri Waititi MP (@rawiri_waititi)

In the intense debate that followed, ideas around acceptable business attire, long based on western dress codes, were questioned against the expression of the indigenous cultural identity. Ties are no longer required as part of men’s “appropriate business attire” in the New Zealand Parliament.

In Australia, members of the Parliament they were allowed ditch the tie in 1977 when safari suits were officially considered business wear. Since then, however, the dress standards of the House of Parliament have informally changed, with male politicians wearing ties uniformly on camera.

Ties have been embroiled in controversy here as in New Zealand. This narrow strip of fabric has many meanings for those who use it.

“” The claim that Maori should wear a European tie in Parliament has nothing to do with a standard of dress. It has a lot to do with affirming the power of ‘Pākehā’ (a word referring to New Zealanders of European origin) “Rawiri WaititiInstagram @rawiri_waititi

Shells, feathers, gold and fabrics They have adorned people’s necks for millennia. The origin of the tie most commonly dates back to Croatian mercenaries of the seventeenth century who wore cloth around the neck. One of the purposes was to protect the neck from the sword blade.

Ties, wrapped or tied with bows, and “traps”, a rigid fabric that is tied at the back of the neck, were worn in Europe during later centuries and by the first colonial administrators of Australia. They were made of lace, linen, silk and muslin.

The ‘bow tie’ and tie, in a way recognizable today, were increasingly visible in the 19th century.

The tie symbolism draws a particularly heated discussion about the male body style. While the suit jacket creates a V-shape from shoulder to waist, the tie draws attention from throat to groin, in the same way, some argue, as did the fly.

It has been suggested that this “overcompensation” explains former US President Donald Trump’s preference for long ties, and one observer compared them to the fly.

Donald Trump, former president of the United States.Donald Trump, former president of the United States, Bloomberg

When the captain James cook landed on the Australian shores, wearing a uniform with linen tied around the neck, or so many paintings suggest.

The early administrators also used neat and clean ties, while the convicts had a neckerchief as part of their uniform.

Meanwhile, influential aborigines were sometimes presented with a cuirass to wear around their necks.

The artist ST Gill He illustrated life in the Victorian gold fields in the 1850s, with some of his digging workers tying scarves around their necks. But the spendthrifts and dandies he drew splurged on flashy clothing, including brightly colored silk ties with gentlemen-style gold pins.

In the early 20th century, when manual workers took off their jackets and ties, wearing a three-piece suit and tie it turned into a short form of authority and professionalism.

To the extent that business suit became a staple of men’s fashion in the early 20th century, the popularity of ties skyrocketed. In 1950, when The Sun newspaper in Sydney published everyone’s ideal wardrobe: the extensive list recommended only 18 ties.

However, the suits and ties were hot, if not oppressive, as Australia’s climate “dress reformers” insisted. When Ray Olson photographed the fashion of the new season of David Jones in 1939, captured two men in contrasting outfits walking down a city street.

One wore a fashionable double-breasted suit, a cheerful hat, and a fitted tie. The other wore a short-sleeved shirt, no tie, and tailored shorts. Radical for the time, this look was adopted decades later, with the Prime Minister of South Australia, Don dunstan, leading the charge on relaxed dress standards.

In 1967, The Bulletin described Dunstan’s set of shorts, long socks, and a short-sleeved shirt without a tie as a “summer example” for government and bank employees.

As attitudes towards ties have transformed over the decades, their styles have gone out of style. The slim tie popularized by bands like The Beatles in the 1960s it was favored by young Australians.

The wide tie it has also had its moments. In the 1970s, wide, eye-catching ties were right up there with fashion. For the political flamboyant Al GrassbyWearing wide colored ties marked a move towards “a new colorful Australia”.

These days, politicians can use certain colors to mark their allegiance – the coalition has a lot of comments about the preference for blue, for example, although this is not always obvious.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken wyatt, he often chooses a tie with an indigenous design to mark his heritage.

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A post shared by Team Ken Wyatt (@teamkenwyatt)

Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians, wears a tie with indigenous art.

Ties do many things. Although they express identity, they can just as easily act as a “uniform” for those who wear them. They empower some while taking it from others. Does Rawiri Waititi’s critique of the “colonial noose” suggest that Australia may also be heading towards a reckoning with the place of the tie in our history?

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* You can read the original note by clicking here.

* By Lorinda Cramer, who is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Australian Catholic University. He is working on a project that analyzes the social and cultural history of men’s clothing in Australia in the 20th century.

* The Conversation is an independent, non-profit source of news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.