Call me a traditionalist. Each morning as I walk past my tie rack, I pause to admire the vividly colored collection of Ferragamo and Brioni masterpieces, all neatly hanging in ordered rows and beckoning me to ‘tie one on’. Alas, though, the office-casual nature at my workplace is far more amiable to the sweater and jeans attire, with nary a collared shirt even under the slightest of considerations. And so whenever the opportunity comes my way, a tie is knotted around my neck without a moment’s hesitation, partly for the pleasure of dressing up but also for the nostalgia of a bygone era when this piece was all but compulsory.
Being of a more ‘scholarly’ age, donning a suit and tie comes naturally to me. Looking in the mirror, I selfishly feel at least a bit more professional in demeanor with a psychological boost in tow. What is equally refreshing is how often I encounter hoteliers who are similarly dressed – both male and female, most likely in supervisory roles and ranging from their mid-20s to their late 60s. In this new millennium of anything goes fashion-wise, hospitality may become the last bastion of classical couture.
Lately, however, even I have eschewed the formality of a necktie in favor of the de rigueur style of Silicon Valley – a sport jacket with t-shirt underneath. Presenting at conferences in this garb has been met with little pushback from the hosts and audiences alike, but, as it concerns the everyday hotelier, does this trendiness support an authoritative tone? Broader, do the clothes maketh the man (or woman)? Here are my thoughts on the necktie and the accompanying collared shirt in the modern hotel workspace:
- If you’re the GM, always wear a shirt and tie. You are the leader. Set an example of the highest standard. Even if you are GM of a purported lifestyle property, I see nothing wrong with sporting an appropriately patterned tie. The one possible exception may be a tropical beach resort where the heat can be cumbersome, but if your office has adequate air conditioning then this should not be a problem.
- If you’re hoping to be a GM one day, dress the part. No one will criticize you for being professionally dressed. You can always take the tie off to recognize a post-work, more relaxed environment. Conversely, you will definitely be noticed for a lack of necktie in situations where they are warranted. Plus, there is a matter of getting into a good routine whereby the suit and necktie become your uniform to the point where you are wholly comfortable wearing these clothes on a regular basis.
- If you’re selling your services to the hospitality industry, show respect. Wearing a tie shows deference to this community of traditionalists and will underscore the importance of your presentation. Better to dress above your audience, then chance being below. Moreover, by dressing the part, it will help to quickly build rapport with your target audience.
- If you’re interacting with guests, demonstrate that you are professional. A necktie commands authority, personal control and knowledge. The simple act of wearing a tie when the guest is not will reflect a strong commitment to service. Plus, this look will set a good tone with customers, subtly reassuring them that all their needs will be met.
- If you’re going to Europe, formality is the name of the game. Remember to bring a good selection of ties with you as well as one nicely fitted suit at a minimum. If you forget them, you’ll find yourself at a nearby boutique restocking your selection. This may cost you a pretty penny but ostensibly this continent has the best haberdasheries in the world so you may actually benefit from a bit of clothes shopping!
You may think after reading this that I am some sort of Neanderthal, pushing back against the millennial-I’m-brilliant-no-matter-what-I-do-or-wear generation. Yes, your fashion sense is a personal expression, and not necessarily representative of your knowledge base or work ethic. However, people will judge you by the clothes on your back, so strike the best pose possible by dressing in a manner befitting our time-honored industry.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in eHotelier on March 1, 2017)