The Tie Makes A Comeback

For fans of fashionable neckwear for men ... what's old is new again. Our Sunday Morning contributor Mo Rocca, who follows these matters, has his own ideas about it.

Way back in the 1990s, freedom was ringing everywhere.

Women were making huge inroads in the workplace. As for men - business casual would liberate them from stranglehold of the tie. Millions of American males heard the call: "Mr. Businessman. tear off that tie!"

But reports of the tie's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Sales are way up among 20-somethings.

"I feel strongly that you could throw a tie on just about anything it and it sort of ups the look a little bit," Stephen Escobar, manager of the John Varvatos store in New York City, said. "Makes the look a little more refined. And you still leave your jeans on and Chuck Taylors on and it still has that rock 'n' roll edge."

It's not surprising that the tie has survived. After all, ties and men have been bound for more than a millennium. Among the earliest models were knotted scarves worn by Chinese soldiers of the third century B.C.

Three hundred years ago, men wore cravats, which were unapologetically impractical. Over time the cravat became the necktie. By the middle of the 20th century, though, the tie had lost some its personality. It had become obligatory - part of a uniform dictated from on-high.

Then with the arrival of business casual, it seemed to sound the death knell for the tie. Or did it?

In fact men have embraced the responsibility of choosing what to wear to work, and more and more they're choosing the tie. It has become something that can set an outfit apart and make it more fashionable.

"Men's fashion I believe is very limited in what you can do," one man told Rocca. "So by adding a tie, or even by how you tie it, says something about who you are."

"You definitely have a lotta freedom of expression," another man said.

Indeed, no longer required to wear a uniform, today's man is fit to be tied.