A California mayor wants to ban neckties in his city after he read about a recent study in Germany that found the wardrobe staple found in many men's closets may be reducing blood flow to their brains.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris asked the city attorney at a city council meeting Tuesday to look into the possibility of instituting a ban on workplace dress codes that require men to wear ties, the Los Angeles Times reported. The mayor said he read about the report on the blog Big Think.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate in America today to make anyone do something that is now known to be detrimental to your health,” Parris told the newspaper. “Especially, if it’s based on gender.”
But such a policy would also involve issuing infractions, so Parris also asked the city’s Criminal Justice Commission to look into whether such a rule would make sense.
Parris, who said he has dropped loads of money on neckties over the course of his career, isn't sure about how many of the city's employers require ties, but the city's department heads usually wear them.
So, how was the study conducted?
The University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein study published last month in Neuroradiology used magnetic resonance imaging to study the cerebral blood flow of 30 participants.
Half of the participants wore ties during their MRIs, and the other half did not.
The results showed a significant decrease, 7.5 percent, in cerebral blood flow after tightening the tie, but the venous flow showed no significant changes.
For people with high blood pressure, that amount of decreased blood flow could be deadly because blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
An older study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology in 2003 showed tightly worn ties might increase the risk of blindness and glaucoma.
What did the city attorney say?
City Attorney Allison Burns told the Times she has just started looking into the idea of the ban and wasn't able to comment on whether it would be feasible or not.
Parris said he's not afraid of fighting for the ordinance.
“I’m aware I’m going out on a ledge, but I live my life on ledges,” Parris said. “We’re interested in going in a positive direction until we’re stopped.”
What do legal experts say?
Michael Colantuono, an expert in municipal law who serves as city attorney for Auburn and Grass Valley, told the newspaper he has no knowledge of a city trying to regulate clothes that can or cannot be worn at a private business.
He said a city could face lawsuits for infringement on an employers freedom to enforce a dress code.
But cities in California have the power to regulate activity if it's deemed necessary for the health and safety of residents, but, of course, the city would have to prove that ties are a public health problem.
Steven Derryberry, managing partner of the Lancaster law firm Kestler Derryberry, said his office doesn't require its lawyers to wear a tie in the office, but they are asked to wear them in the courtroom.
“As hot and warm as it is in the Antelope Valley after Memorial Day, it’s too uncomfortable to wear ties anyway,” Derryberry told the Times.
Derryberry added that people should stop wearing ties altogether, even in court, if the study's claims are true.
What do tie proponents say?
Dress codes have become more relaxed across the nation over the past decade or so, but some menswear stylists think businessmen shouldn't cut their ties too quickly.
Aaron Marino, a menswear stylist in Atlanta, Georgia, said there's been a resurgence of tie-wearing among fashionable young men.
The tie is more than just a tie, Marion explained. The fashion accessory symbolizes confidence and care in an increasingly competitive world and believes it could make a difference for those who are just starting their careers.
“If you’re wearing a necktie and it’s cutting off circulation to your brain, your collar isn’t the proper size. It’s too tight,” he said. “Don’t blame the tie.”
The mayor, who admitted he hasn't yet given up wearing ties, said he spends a lot of time exercising.
“I spend a lot of hours every week on an elliptical or a bike just to increase blood flow to my brain,” Parris said, “and it turns out every morning when I put on a tie I’m diminishing it.”