There is nothing more corporate than a tie – not even a grey suit comes close. It has long been synonymous with men in finance and politics. Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer even became a Twitter meme for wearing the same tartan tie non-stop.
The tradition of women wearing ties, though, is more intriguing: small accessory, big impact.
Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall is a reference that’s often revisited by fashion brands such as Max Mara, Alberta Ferretti and Gucci. And then there was Julia Roberts’ floral-tie moment at the 1990 Golden Globes.
There’s an ease and nonchalance about these women in ties compared to the men who wear them. It’s a nod to tradition, yet the moment a woman wears one, it becomes much more powerful, norm-breaking, joyous and androgynous.
Riccardo Tisci at Burberry has made a more recent case for the tie in various camel hues, with some monogrammed and even illustrated, all layered under and over prim-and-proper skirt suits.
While the aesthetic is not exactly country-club appropriate, it does have a Brideshead Revisited formality to it – a look that Jodie Comer’s Killing Eve character Villanelle referenced in season two in a yellow-and-purple floral tie, teamed with a beige sweater draped across her shoulders.
There are endless prints, colourways and ways to wear a tie. In the Forties, Marlene Dietrich embraced the masculine look of the Windsor knot, while a four-in-hand knot (like the ties worn at school) was loved by Carrie Fisher, as it’s not bulky and the fabric is more lightweight.
And last month at the Bombshell premiere in California, Nicole Kidman wore a black tie with a white shirt and bedazzled blazer by Saint Laurent.
There are no strict rules dictating how a woman should or shouldn’t wear a tie, so there’s an opportunity to get creative, though those with bigger busts might want to consider a skinny version.
As for the tie-with-trouser-suit look, leave it to Julia Roberts, as there’s a high risk of looking like you got outfit inspiration from a fashion flip-book.
Tracking the trend
1985: Tie Di
Princess Diana in a turquoise green suit-skirt by Jasper Conran on an official visit to Italy.
2002: All ties in
Jean-Paul Gaultier presented his spring/summer 2002 haute couture collection at the L’Avenir du Prolétariat in Paris, which translates to “the future of the working class”, and heavily featured tops and dresses made out of ties.
2019: Role reversal
Nicole Kidman swapped the bodycon dresses that she wears on screen in new film, Bombshell, for monochrome androgyny.