Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.07.06
Stanstead, Quebec


How this Canuck writer ties one on

I may be about to pronounce on a heretofore unpronounced-upon trend. I've looked all over the Internet and I've found no judgement on this matter. So it's up to me.

The world needs to know.

Zipper ties: yes or no?

You may have seen them, probably in not-better department stores everywhere. Usually they're next to the real ties, hanging sheepishly from their hooks, as if saying, "Sure, we're real ties, all respectable-like. We'll fool everyone, just like a really fine toupee."

Of course, we all know there is no such thing as a really fine toupee.

If you haven't seen one, a zipper tie comes pre-knotted on a loop you slide over your head. In the skinny end of the tie is a zipper. You simply slide the knot up to your throat, lock it in place and, voila, the perfect knot, the perfect length.

You kind of have to marvel at the technology, the same way you marvel at cheese-stuffed pizza crust… not that you'd actually want to eat it.

As a commercial Internet site mentions, the zipper tie has "The ease of the clip-on with the style of a knotted tie."

It's that conjunction of "clip-on" and "style" that has me worried, for I am a zipper tie owner.

I'm also wondering why there is virtually no discussion of zipper ties anywhere on the Web, other than "Zipper Ties at Cheap, Cheap Prices!"

Are men secretly ashamed about wearing these pseudo-ties? Usually, though, when there is a secret shame, someone somewhere is mocking it. Someone like me, for instance.

So, I guess I have to take a stand.

But first some perspective:

Five months into my new job, I no longer fret about getting dressed in the morning, mainly because standards, like the creases in my pants, have slackened. But there is still the morning struggle tying the tie.

I can tie a knot. It's getting the length just so that's tricky. My morning tie-tying routine usually goes like this: Tie tie. Too long, re-tie. Too short, re-tie. Yell at kids, re-tie.

So the pre-knotted tie my mother gave me for Christmas solves pretty much the last stressful aspect of the morning dressing routine. But are people laughing at me behind my back, I mean other than for the usual reasons?

Is the zipper tie an acceptable alternative, like plastic corks in wine bottles, or an abomination of taste, like wine-in-a-box?

To help me decide, I asked some tie-wearing men.

For some, the topic dredged up painful memories of clip-ons past. Some sneered but could not give a firm reason, although you could sense that they felt there was something lowbrow about the zipper tie, like it was something you would wear to the Nascar Cotillion and Tire Show.

Some had never heard of it. One colleague said, "It takes a big man to wear a zipper tie," and I think I know why.

For style to truly be style, it has to be as difficult as possible. It should involve some pain, sweat and yelling.

This is more evident for women, for whom fashion dictates that they occasionally have to tape their breasts together. Thankfully, men rarely have to tape anything together. We just have to worry about lapel widths and being sure to wear clean socks.

The tie is one of the few things we really have to work at. Take that away, and it's too easy. Wear a zipper tie and you run the risk of being shown up as a shirker. A shallow shirker. And shallow shirkers are shunned. It's shameful.

Bottom line, a tie should reflect the wearer. In this case, a zipper tie is a cheap, corner-cutting fraud without much character. In other words, it's a perfect fit.