DUNCAN BARKES: Slacker or slicker? Time to get knotted

How important is a tie? I ask because during the coverage of the recent G8 Summit in Northern Ireland it was glaringly obvious that some bright spark had advised world leaders to dump the neckpiece.

Quite what the intention was I do not know, but it made them look slack.

Cameron, Obama, Putin etc all stood there with their collars flapping in the breeze.

Even Barroso, the president of the European Commission, was tieless (but what do you expect from a man representing an organisation that none of us voted for?)

I think chaps who do certain jobs should wear a tie. To be seen without one gives the impression of being either a half-dressed impostor or having been caught on the hop.

Politicians should always wear a collar and tie. It gives them a certain gravitas and, let’s face it, many need all the help they can get in this department.

When I was growing up everybody in authority wore a tie. The doctor, the teacher, the politician – even pub landlords sported a carefully-tied Windsor knot.

Nowadays it seems that minimal effort at the neck is de rigueur.

As a journalist and broadcaster I am rarely required to raid my collection of ties.

However, I suspect that many go without in a bid to blend in.

Weddings and memorial services aside, the last time I wore a tie was for lunch at a London club.

The East India Club is the kind of place where failure to don a jacket and tie may well see you shot on sight, stuffed, and mounted on the club wall above the fireplace.

All too rarely now do you see anyone wearing a tie for a trip to the theatre or a restaurant, never mind in church or to see the accountant.

But it gave me a certain frisson to have to dress for lunch and I plan to start getting knotted more often. After much thought I have decided to pursue the ‘middle-way’ when it comes to the neckwear situation.

As ties start to fade, and an open-necked collar seems too informal, I am considering a dalliance with the cravat.

If it is good enough for David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Nicholas Parsons, then why not a chubby newspaper columnist who wants to maintain certain dress standards?