At­ten­tion, men: are your neck­ties too tight?

The Review - - OPINION - Jim Smart Of All Things Visit colum­nist Jim Smart’s web­site at jamess­mart­sphiladel­phia.com.

A magazine ar­ti­cle I clipped a while ago re­ported on re­search that found that a neck­tie tied too tightly re­duced the flow of blood to men’s brains by about 7.5 per­cent.

The re­searchers claimed that, while that may not be enough to cause se­ri­ous dam­age, any re­duc­tion in the blood flow car­ry­ing oxy­gen and nu­tri­ents to the brain may have at least a tem­po­rary ef­fect on a man’s brain func­tion.

The men who were tested wore ties with Wind­sor knots of vary­ing de­grees of tight­ness and had MRI scan stud­ies of their brain ac­tiv­ity.

The ar­ti­cle didn’t ex­plain why the Wind­sor knot was sin­gled out for the study. It is a bit tricky to tie but is nicely cen­tered in the col­lar com­pared to the con­ven­tional four-in-hand knot that’s been around necks for more than a cen­tury.

Some sources say the four-in-hand goes back to the bunt­line hitch used in the rigs of sail­ing ships. On necks, it has been called the school­boys’ knot be­cause it’s fairly sim­ple.

It is said to have orig­i­nated at the Four-in-Hand Club in Lon­don, which was founded in 1856 by men who en­joyed driv­ing car­riages on which one driver holds the reins of four horses.

It’s claimed that the knot that holds four sets of reins together in­spired the neck­tie knot. Folks driv­ing fourin-hands still pop up along the Wis­sahickon now and then. I don’t know their po­si­tion on neck­ties.

The Wind­sor knot is named after the Duke of Wind­sor, who made it pop­u­lar and may have in­vented it. It might have be­come called the Ed­ward VIII knot be­cause that was the num­ber of king he would have been, but he re­signed as king and be­came the Duke of Wind­sor and took his tie de­sign with him.

Some stu­dents of royal be­hav­ior be­lieve that the knot was ac­tu­ally in­vented by the duke’s fa­ther, King Ge­orge V. I never saw a pic­ture of him in a neck­tie; he usu­ally was in a high mil­i­tary col­lar.

When Word War I com­menced, Ge­orge V dumped the Ger­man fam­ily name he was stuck with and as­sumed the fam­ily name Wind­sor, after the palace he lived in. If it wasn’t for that war, the neck­tie might be the Saxe Coburg & Gotha knot.

I don’t wear neck­ties of­ten th­ese days, ex­cept for wed­dings, funer­als and sim­i­lar diver­sions. I don’t re­mem­ber when I shifted from the four-in-hand my fa­ther taught me and started ty­ing the Wind­sor. But I never re­call feel­ing that a tie was cut­ting off my blood and oxy­gen sup­ply.

The magazine ar­ti­cle says that the re­searchers found, by com­par­ing MRI scans of loose knots, tight knots and no knots on a bunch of men, that the tight knots re­duced the blood flow to the men’s brains by that av­er­age of 7.5 per­cent.

The re­searchers used the phrase “so­cially de­sir­able stran­gu­la­tion” to de­scribe tight tie-wear­ing.

But after scar­ing us to the point that we might swear off ever putting a neck­tie around our necks again, they made the wimpy backpedal that the stran­gu­la­tion may not be all that se­ri­ous. Maybe they were wor­ried about pos­si­ble law­suits from the neck­tie in­dus­try.

I sus­pect that quite a few men who are read­ing this are now, con­sciously or un­con­sciously, reach­ing for their neck­tie knots.

And there are some guys I know whose men­tal be­hav­ior is some­time such that I’ll be tak­ing note of the knot in their neck­ties. Maybe they’ve been ty­ing them too tight.

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