Harry Mount

If you want to get ahead in politics, wear a tie

If you want to get ahead in politics, wear a tie
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O tempora, o mores! The Speaker yesterday announced that men no longer have to wear ties in the House of Commons.

In fact, until now it's only been a convention - not a rule - that they should wear one. And that's exactly as it should be. Politics is far too important to be trumped by sartorial rules. If you elect your representative, they should be allowed to wear shorts or a T-shirt in the chamber. 

But not encouraged to. The thing about a suit and tie is that they just happen to make men look smarter than they do in shorts or T-shirts. A suit and tie lead to minimal wobbly flesh on show; they create a harmony between top half and bottom half that comes with a jacket and trousers of the same cloth; while a tie helps conceal that flapping wattle which emerges beneath the chin in middle age.

As I watched the Commons on telly just now, a lone, tieless MP looked that tiny bit less serious than his colleagues in ties. Bear in mind, too, David Hockney's wise words about suits. He told Tom Hodgkinson, editor of the Idler and a Spectator contributor, not to bother with dieting, but to wear a tailored suit instead. 'Anyone can look good in a properly fitting suit', Hockney told him.

Throw in a tie and you have the best-looking - and most serious - set of clothes a man can wear. Any MP that wants to get ahead should get a tie.