Attention, men: are your neckties too tight?
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.