Buying a New Suit? It’s Okay, I’m Here to Help (and So Is My Tailor)

When men buy suits, they have a few options, and let’s look at them one by one:

Coach Boone

1. “The Hand-Me-Down” – In the words of Coach Boone (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie Remember the Titans, “Borrow one from your father. If you don’t have a father, find a bum on the street and trade him for his.” Sage advice for high school football players, but probably not a great option for the regular working class.

JosaBank

2. “The Men’s Store Suit” – This option includes going to Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A. Bank’s and buying a suit off the rack. The jacket is way too bulky and the pants are probably pleated, but that’s okay because you’re going to get three for the price of one. What a deal! Except that no matter how you get the suits tailored, you’re still not going to look great. So you’ve spent $400 on one suit, got two free, but are still unhappy. That’s what happens when you buy a mass produced suit from a warehouse.
JCrew

3. “The Mall Suit” – These are the suits that you find at stores like Banana Republic and J. Crew. They’re the “slim fit” at BR, and according to one suit at J. Crew, it’s “a tailored, modern cut.” I’m sorry. How is it tailored if you don’t know my measurements? But I digress… These suits boast of being imported and of better quality. I would hope so considering some of the jackets go for as much as $425 and the pants up to $225. So, you decide to get one, but now you’re out $650, with a slim fit suit that still isn’t custom tailored to you. Sure, it’s modern and cool looking, or at least that’s what their websites tell you.

4. “The Designer Suit” – You can find these suits by designers like Hugo Boss, Armani, and others at Macy’s, Nordstrom, and other department stores. Some sell for $695, while other jackets (yes, only the jacket) sell for $995. Some suits sell for more than $2,000. But that’s okay, “It comes with free tailoring!” you say. I’m sure these suits are nice, and I’ll be honest, I’ve never bought one, so I can’t really tell you. But for $2,000 I hope I’d be getting a really nice suit. But you’re out $2,000, probably the equivalent to your mortgage payment.
Custom

5. “The Custom Made Suit” – Simply put, these are the “couture” shops that will make you a custom made suit exactly to your body’s dimensions. The problem? While the “basic” suits start at $700, most cost more than $1,500. See last sentence of “The Designer Suit.” This picture to the left is a photo taken from Enzo Custom Suits in Washington, DC. As mentioned above, the starter packages are cheaper, but don’t scroll down to see how much their normal stuff costs.

 

 

 

 

In the fall of 2013, I met a US Army Captain, who, strangely enough, was the direct descendant of an infamous criminal from early in the 20th century. He was a smart guy and we got to talking one day…on the topic of men’s fashion. He was proselytizing about option 4, listed above. “You know what you gotta do, man, is get like a really nice Hugo Boss suit for like…$800,” he told me. “It’s going to be great, you’ll love it.”

I don’t know if he had a business interest in Hugo Boss, but he seemed passionate about it. Others joined in the conversation and started to listen to his description of his suits and how nice they were.  $800 for this suit, $900 for that suit. They were expensive, but he loved them.

“Parker, when you get done with your deployment, you going to get some of these suits?”

What I didn’t tell him, yet, was that I already had a new wardrobe of finer clothing. Because I didn’t fall into the trap of the five options above, I had a sixth option, and it was the best decision about men’s clothing I ever made.

6. “The Thailand Suit” – On my way home from Baghdad in August 2012, I stopped off in Thailand, and spent four days in Phuket with one of my best friends. While there, I looked up the best tailor on the island, and I found it: Magnifique Tailor. According to TripAdvisor, Magnifique, at the time, had 149 five-star ratings, 6 four-star ratings, and 1 one-star rating. That was pretty damn good. (Take a look now, it’s even more insane.)

I walked in and met the owner, Nick. He gave me a drink and helped explain how his process worked. So, I jumped in. I picked my fabric, my jacket and pocket lining, my cut, my stitching, everything I wanted. Then, he took my measurements. “Come back in four hours,” he told me. After a massage, I returned, they had my base cuts ready to go. I donned them, and they took more measurements. “Come back in two days,” Nick told me as he took the fabric off of my back.

Two days later, I returned. “One more measurement, then you’ll be set,” he said. He put the almost-final cuts on me one last time. The first felt like a glove. It was custom fit to me, and it was perfect. The second was the same–amazing. We confirmed the final details, and I was about to pay. “Actually, Nick, how about one more?” I was so happy with how everything looked and felt, I wanted a third suit. “Black pinstripe with a crazy lining.” And that’s what I got. “These will all be ready tomorrow before you fly out,” he said.

32,000 Thai Baht later, I had three custom made, well-built suits, seven custom-fit shirts, and four ties delivered to my hotel in time for my departure. How many greenbacks is that? About $900, the same price that my army friend wanted me to pay for a “really nice suit” off the rack. The suits are incredible, and four years later, I have no complaints.

Some people say, “But I don’t have the money to fly to Thailand to get these suits like you do.” That may be true, but there is a better option. Nick and his team are coming to the United States and plan on being in Washington, DC the last weekend in September (the 24th through the 26th). He did the same thing last year, and I introduced seven friends to the wonderful world of Magnifique. They’re all extremely pleased. One of my friends liked it so much that he wore it on his appearance on Jeopardy! in May (not joking).

I’ll be seeing him next month to place some new orders myself. If you’d like to join, just email me at parker@parkerschaffel.com and I’ll make sure you’re on the list and you can meet Nick and decide for yourself.

Think about it. Custom-made suits with every detail specified by you for a fraction of the cost of a suit in the US. Seems like there’s no question…

This is why Celebrity Family Feud is an insult to charities

Celebrity Family Feud, hosted Steve Harvey, is a joke.

It. is. a. joke.

Here’s why: The money donated to charity is minuscule compared to the net worth of the people on the show. If the show was serious about supporting charity, they’d donate a lot more…and make the contestants donate a lot more.

Let’s break it down…

Back in 2016, I watched an episode of the show that featured two teams of NFL players, one from American Football Conference (AFC) and one from the National Football Conference (NFC):

Let’s meet the players:

ABC's "Celebrity Family Feud"
AFC: (Left to Right) Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Amari Cooper, Jeremy Hill, and Marcus Cannon. Charity Supported: Active Minds

what_to_watch_on_sunday_nfl_again_tackles_celebrity_family_feud_m14

NFC: (Left to Right) Cliff Avril, Malcolm Jenkins, Tyrann Mathieau, Terrance Knighton, Thomas Davis, Host Steve Harvey. Charity Supported: Got Your 6

As I noted above, each team was playing for a designated charity. The AFC’s charity, Active Minds, is a nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. The NFC’s charity, Got Your 6, works to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population. Clearly, both of these causes are noble are worth supporting.

The NFC team ended up winning the game against and achieved the necessary 200 points in the final round to win $25,000 for the Got Your 6 organization. The NFC players celebrated, and the AFC team joined them on stage to celebrate with them (the AFC Offense’s charity also received a smaller donation).

Therein lies the problem. The winning team’s charity got $25,000.

A measly $25,000.

That sounds like a lot, right? It’s not, and here’s why.

The information below shows each NFC player, his current contract term, the price of his contract, his signing bonus, his total cash earnings for his career, and the total amount of fines the player has paid to date. All data comes from http://www.spotrac.com/nfl and was current as of the original publishing of this post in 201.

Player Contract Price Signing Bonus Cash Earnings Total Fines
Thomas Davis 2 years 18,000,000 9,000,000 51,463,000 46,218
Cliff Avril 4 years 28,500,000 2,500,000 37,866,497 15,000
Malcom Jenkins 4 years 35,000,000 7,500,000 26,521,960 41,893
Terrance Knighton 1 year 1,750,000 250,000 11,819,173 36,025
Tyrann Mathieu 5 years 62,500,000 15,500,000 2,390,333 10,000

One look at the numbers above had me dumbfounded, and I think you should be, too. Those earnings are astronomical to anything most of you and I could ever imagine.

The point here is not how much the athletes make, it’s how much they won for their cause on Celebrity Family Feud: $25,000. That’s pennies compared to the millions and millions of dollars per year they earn from their salaries and other bonuses.

Three of the players on the winning team have each paid more in fines to the NFL than the amount that was donated to the Got Your 6 charity. That’s just pathetic. “But wait,” you might say, “the NFL donates that fine money to charity!”

And you would be correct, but dig deeper. The NFL does donate the money to charity, but according to the NFL’s website on fines and appeals, “the fines collected do not go to the NFL, but instead go to programs for former players. The Players Association and the league have agreed to donate fine money through the NFL Foundation to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust.”

So, the almost $150,000 in fines that the aforementioned players have paid goes right back to players, while needy charities out there get a measly $25,000. In 2016 alone, these five players will make a combined $36 million. That’s why this doesn’t make sense.

ABC, here’s where you should listen: the next time you want to have a charity game with celebrities, either:

  1. a) put real money behind your effort, or
  2. b) make the players match, double, triple, or quadruple the amount you’re willing to donate.

In fact, here’s a third option: do both. The charities, and perhaps the world, would be a lot better off because of it. And next time, I won’t be insanely disappointed when a bunch of millionaires get on your show and get excited for donated less money than they have paid in fines.

As Workplace Dress Codes Go Away, Here Is the One Simple Question to Ask About the Future

Having recently gone to New York City on a weekday, I was keenly aware of how people dressed on their way to work, as I rode the subway with them. Some men were wearing suits, others wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, others t-shirts and shorts, and some women were wearing everything from dresses, to shorts, and everything in between. So this made me think, as I have many times in the past but just decided to post about it, why do we dress the way we do? And what can we do to change it?

Here’s the underlying point of the above rhetorical questions: the only thing that should matter in the workplace is the impact of our work–basically, how successful we are. That may be my opinion, but I think it is one shared by most people.

So getting back to the questions above, and keeping my above point in mind, most agree that we dress the way we do because of a dress code at work. However, a recent New York Times article called “The End of the Office Dress Code” begs to differ. Dress codes are going away. In fact, most US Government agencies don’t have official dress codes anymore. Even further, the New York City Commission on Human Rights indicated that dress codes in New York City could only be enforced if they equally applied to both men and women. Basically, if a company required men to wear ties, then women had to wear ties, too. So, it is clear that we are seeing the beginning of the dissolution of dress codes.

Other people state that they dress in the way they do because it’s considered “professional attire.” So that begs the question, “What is professional attire?” which, of course, gets the standard response of “suit and a tie” (at least for men). But when asked, well why do you wear a suit and tie, the answer inevitably is “because it’s professional attire.” And you can see how the circular argument begins to spin.

A smaller group of people I’ve polled (unscientifically, of course) indicate that they dress the way they do because they feel empowered by doing it. This, to me, is the most legitimate reason for wearing what you do. Your clothing, just as your hair, glasses, earbuds, or any other accessory, shows the world who you are and the styles you prefer. Just as some people like wearing Beats by Dre headphones because it’s a status symbol, others will wear a suit and tie to work because they want to put off that image. And in our open society of the United States, you’re free to do that.

But this last point is the critical piece: the people feel empowered when they wear the “professional” clothing. This begs the next question: What if I feel empowered by wearing something else? What if I feel empowered by wearing a Slayer t-shirt and shorts? What if I’m at my best when I’m wearing that, instead of a suit and tie when it’s 100+ degrees out in the summer? Well, that’s just not acceptable in the workplace. Yet, at least.

But why is it not? I should be able to do what is necessary for me to be able to achieve my absolute best in the workplace, and if I determine, based on my own self-awareness, that I am better at work and achieve more when I wear a Slayer t-shirt, then shouldn’t I be able to do that?

The answer I usually receive to that question, aside from the typical “it’s not professional attire” answer, is that it is distracting in the workplace. Just as blue hair, facial piercings, or exposed tattoos, “unprofessional” clothing can cause a distraction in the workplace for other employees. Therefore, I’m putting other people in situations where they are not able to be their best at work, and that is detrimental to the mission.

However, that speaks to a deeper issue: the apparent psychological immaturity and/or closed-mindedness of those people who would determine my Slayer t-shirt to be improper. Why is the exposed tattoo or a facial piercing a problem, when the actual problem is that the co-worker isn’t mature enough to look at someone for the job he/she does and doesn’t judge the person for the clothing he/she wears? That is the real issue at play. It’s not so much the blue hair or my Slayer t-shirt, it’s the mindset of those who judge because they’re not mentally mature enough (or just so stuck in the past) that they can’t look past the initial facade. They judge the book by its cover.

I’ve spent time in the private sector as a financial adviser, as well as a diplomat working in Iraq, so I understand dressing for the job and or “dressing to impress.” But if I’m sitting at a computer most of the day, interacting only with my team and/or a few others, what’s the difference in what I wear?

Next time you’re at work and are questioning someone’s appearance, whether it be hair color, clothing, or anything on the surface, ask yourself this question: What is the impact of this person to my group’s mission? Dig deeper and your answer might surprise you. Once you realize the positive impact the person has, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be a little bit more comfortable with the Slayer t-shirt.

What do you usually wear to work? What do you think of the above post? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

3 Reasons Why Capital Bikeshare Will Reign Supreme in Washington, DC

BikeshareWhen I was an intelligence officer in the navy, I took a class on intelligence support to expeditionary warfare…you know, the marines crashing the beach, that sort of thing. They told us that the three things we had to first evaluate was the acronym, WET, which stood for weather, enemy, and terrain. Those were the three keys that were key to establishing a good, swift action into enemy territory.

The same idea, with a slight twist, can be used to assess why Capital Bikeshare, Washington DC’s system for common use bicycles, will be a flourishing success for years to come. Three criteria apply, and two are the same as expeditionary warfare–weather and terrain. Instead of enemy as the third assessment, let’s substitute public transportation.

Let’s go through it one-by-one:

Weather: a successful bikeshare system must exist in a climate that is amenable to biking, at least much of the time. Areas that are too hot, too cold, too rainy, too foggy, etc. are not conducive to biking. In Washington, DC, the weather is mostly manageable: spring has rain but is general mild and quite nice, summer gets hot but not too hot, autumn brings in a cool breeze and gorgeous colors, and winter gets cold, but snow does not fall often. Overall, the climate in Washington, DC is good for bicycling.

Terrain: Two key factors that impact bicycle usage are the physical terrain and the human terrain. First, having a bikeshare system in an area that is too hilly does not work very well–people just don’t want to bike uphill. Bikeshare data from the Washington, DC system supports this and indicates that more people down hill than uphill. While the distance above sea level from the Columbia Heights neighborhood is only 180 feet above the Washington Monument, this clearly turns off some people. A city with much more terrain variation than that could have problems. Second, Washington, DC, although it is not New York or Chicago, is fairly densely populated. Compare DC to a city like Dallas or Los Angeles, and you can see that the city is relatively small enough to bicycle around in less than 30 minutes.

Public Transportation: This third point is perhaps the most important in determining bikeshare success: the status of a city’s public transportation system. As has been on display across the DC area and perhaps the country, Washington, DC’s public transportation system is garbage. The Metro system just announced a year-long maintenance plan called SafeTrack, which is aimed at fixing three years of problems in one year. As DC residents would expect, the system was neglected for 40 years and is now in dire straits. Even when the system wasn’t undergoing massive maintenance, the system performed poorly and was wildly expensive–a one-way ride from one end of the system to the other could cost almost $6.00 during rush hour. The bus system is mediocre, although it is more reasonably priced at $1.85 per ride. It has good routes, but with very few express bus lanes, buses get backed up with traffic, and are often late, while some don’t even show. Lastly, driving your own car in the city is a pain. Parking garages are few and far between, and the roads are ineffective for cars to adequately get around. Washington DC’s public transportation system, as a whole, is unreliable, overpriced, and riddled with problems. In cities with adequate, reasonably priced public transit systems, like New York, Chicago, and Boston, there is less demand for a bicycle sharing system simply because you can get anywhere in the city on public transit faster than on a bike. In Washington, DC, you can get almost anywhere faster on a bike than riding public transportation.

So, the new acronym, which I think should be used for the viability of bikeshare programs, is WTPT: weather, terrain, and public transportation. If you have a weather pattern fit for bicycling, a physical and human terrain that makes it manageable, and inadequate and overpriced public transportation options, you have an environment ripe for an effective bikeshare system.

As of the publication of this post, since February 2015, I have used bikeshare cycles 440 times for more than 75 hours. According to the tracking system, I have biked at least 560 miles (which is a gross underestimate in my opinion). For $85 a year (which is the equivalent of about 25 metro rides, 45 bus rides, or 10 Uber/cabrides), I have unlimited access to Capital Bikeshare for up to 30 minutes per ride. If I need more time, I check the bike in, and check it right back out. Bottom line: I can get anywhere in DC faster and cheaper on a bikeshare than I can driving, taking the metro, or taking a bus.

Seems simple to me.

 

This is why the George Washington Memorial Parkway needs to be part of the interstate highway system

The George Washington Memorial Parkway, the four-lane road that travels about 25 miles north and south along the west bank of the Potomac River provides some beautiful scenic overlooks of the river, features a well-used bike path, and provides direct access to Mount Vernon, the home and burial ground of the first US President George Washington.

Speaking in more practical terms, it serves hundreds of thousands of cars daily, accesses all seven bridges across the Potomac River in the metropolitan area (five of the seven are direct exits from the GW Parkway, while two bridges, Chain Bridge and the Wilson Bridge, have secondary access via a few turns to another road), and has entry/exit points to most of the major highways in Virginia and DC (I-495, VA-123, US-29, US-50, I-66, I-395, and US-1). The road sounds like a travelers dream: it has access to everything. However…

The GW Parkway is one of the biggest piece-of-crap roads in the entire United States. It is riddled with potholes, especially on the northern section from I-495 to the Key Bridge in Arlington, has no shoulder for emergency pull-offs or accident reports, has no lighting, has exit signs are about the size of a stop sign, and has no exit numbers. Let’s go one by one:

  • Potholes: The GW Parkway is riddled with potholes, particularly the section north of Arlington toward I-495. Why are there so many? The GW Parkway is maintained by the National Park Service, part of the Department of the Interior. These are the people that run national parks and make sure you have park rangers at the Civil War battlefields to answer your questions. They’re not in the transportation maintenance business. For example, it took the NPS more than 18 hours to clean up an oil spill that occurred when the engine of a tour bus exploded, spilling fluid and parts everywhere on the road. If it takes an organization 18 hours to do that, how do we expect them to maintain a smooth roadway? Just imagine if I-66 or I-495 or I-395 had as many potholes as the GW Parkway. There would be a riot… Those roadways are smooth simply because they have ample funding from the Department of Transportation.
  • No shoulder: When a vehicle is disabled on the GW Parkway, it sits in the roadway, simply because there is no shoulder. Even worse, there is a three-inch lip that separates the roadway from the grass line, and unless you’re Hulk Hogan, you’re not going to be able to push a car over the lip on to the grass. So, then the car sits there, and so do motorists stuck behind the disabled vehicle. It could be hours until help arrives, again because there is no shoulder for a tow truck to drive on to get to the disabled vehicle.
  • No lighting: The road is pitch black at night. Normally, for NPS roads, this is not a problem because national parks close at night. However, when you’re the GW Parkway and hundreds of thousands of commuters use you on a daily basis during the winter when you’re driving home at 6 p.m. (and it’s dark out), you could use some lighting on the road. Moreover, because the GW Parkway sits in a “national park,” there are deer and other animals that end up in the roadway. With no lighting, any animal can get in the road and cause havoc for drivers.
  • Exit signs: One of the most confusing things about the GW Parkway is the lack of adequate signage. This is especially chaotic for new drivers to DC…it takes them months to finally figure out how the road works. The exit signs that do exist are small, and few and far between. There are a handful of “Upcoming Exits” signs, which are also few in number and difficult to read. When an exit finally does appear, sometimes it is too close to an exit, and many drivers will completely miss the exit. The GW Parkway needs large green, reflective signs, (just like on highways) which are illuminated and actually usable by drivers.

The list of problems with the GW Parkway goes on and on. When thinking about the GW Parkway, and other roads like it (especially a road like Rock Creek Parkway), ask yourself this question:

Does this road belong in the hands of the National Park Service, or does it serve a greater purpose?

When debating the GW Parkway, the answer to this question is “no.” Skyline Drive, a gorgeous, scenic route that that runs the ridge line of the Shenandoah Mountains, belongs to the NPS. The GW Parkway accesses seven bridges across the Potomac River; seven major highways into Maryland, DC, and Virginia; and runs 25 miles parallel to the most important city in the world. It should be treated with the same level of seriousness. It deserves Department of Transportation federal, state, city, and local funding. It deserves to be a road fit for its mission.

Update from 2021:

The GW Parkway was significantly repaved in 2019-2020. That said, the other issues listed above still remain. The road will continue to plague drivers until all of these issues are addressed.

Why Trains Are So Great, and Why America Needs More

I grew up in the Washington, DC area riding the metro subway system for fun with my grandfather. I remember taking the Red Line, switching to the Orange/Blue line, and going to Rosslyn, Arlington to take a picture for my grandpa and a book he was writing. I remember when the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) extended the Green Line north of Fort Totten to Greenbelt. I was there at the Greenbelt Station as a news reporter was reporting live, but I dared not to run behind him while he was live on camera.

When my grandpa’s brother Fred was still alive and living in Brooklyn, we used to take the Amtrak, sometimes from Union Station, but other times from New Carrollton (just because it was easier and faster to get to) to New York’s Penn Station for a day trip. We’d board a train around 7:30 a.m. and be in Manhattan by 11. We’d spend the day with his brother, buy him some clothes, and take him to lunch. We’d visit a tourist attraction, then be on a train by 5 p.m. and were home by around 9:30. It was a great day, and it was so easy, and relatively inexpensive.

Today, I wonder why more people don’t use trains, where applicable, of course (you’re not go to ride a train from DC to Los Angeles, unless you care to spend two days doing it). Driving these days is going to cost you about 50 cents per mile of wear and tear on your car, using the US Government’s reimbursable rate. That accounts for fuel, repairs, and the eventuality that you will have to replace your car…every mile you drive is another one you can’t. If we estimate the trip from Washington to NYC as 200 miles, then you are already spending $200 on a round trip ($.50 x 400 miles). Then add in the massive amount of tolls, especially the ones that NYC charges to drive into Manhattan. So why would anyone drive?

Because the national train system is subpar. It’s on time, sometimes. Its cars are old and outdated. It’s wifi works, sometimes (as I type this from a train, the wifi is not working). The train stations are crummy. Perhaps, most importantly, on the east coast corridor, the cost for getting a train ticket close to your trip is exorbitant, and it’s usually cheaper to get a plane ticket. I will admit, though, that I bought this ticket five months in advance and purchased a $98 round trip ticket.

I think of Europe–its fast, clean trains, beautiful and effective stations, and it’s continental network that seems flawless. I think of how my overnight train ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway, was seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. I think of how I was able to easily take trains from Kortrik, Belgium to Cham, Germany, over 13 hours to see a small heavy metal concert. I couldn’t have done that in America if I were European. I thought of the train ride from Copenhagen to Berlin, where my name appeared on my seat for the duration of my journey–no more, and no less (and then I am reminded of the frenzy of passengers on this train vying for a seat as quickly as possible, because, despite my ticket saying “reserved,” in fact, nothing was). I remembered purchasing my inexpensive ticket from Berlin, Germany to Kutno, Poland the day before I was taking the trip (buying a ticket from DC to NYC the day before could cost you more than $200).

People take trains in Europe because of those reasons–effectiveness, ease, cost, convenience. We could do this in America, where it makes sense. We could reinvest in our infrastructure to make our train system that of Europe’s–effective, easy, cost-friendly, and convenient. Will we?

Men’s ties are stupid, so here is why they should go away forever

The perpetual “definition” of male professional dress is a wool suit, generally black, gray, or blue, a button down shirt, a belt, a pair of shoes, and a tie. The infamous tie. Many Wikipedia pages about ties exist with many reasons for how they came about. Some reasons discuss warmth, while others describe a way of keeping the shirt in one place close to the neck. Yet more pages describe as a homage to the flyers of the early 20th century (image: the Red Baron flying a bi-plane in World War I).

The thing is this: ties serve no functional purpose, it’s purely aesthetic. Even high-heeled shoes provide a benefit. In the words of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, “You can take the biggest, burliest truck driver in America and put him in a pair of high-heeled shoes, and he’s gonna walk like this.” (As he proceeds to stand on his calves describing how good his legs and butt look).

But the tie isn’t needed for warmth. We have scarves, hats, and other paraphernalia that we used in cold weather. It’s not for keeping our shirts tight at the top, that’s why we have buttons.

The tie is merely aesthetic. It looks nice, sometimes, as long as its wearer displays it at the correct height. But in the end, all we do is spill food and drink on our ties, get them caught in shredders, and occasionally turn them upside down to mockingly hang ourselves.

To me, the argument is simple: Functionality = 0; Potential for problems = 100.

And this is an argument I made before the COVID-19 pandemic changed  “professional workplace attire” forever. Many people are wearing hoodies and sweatpants for work meetings, and the shift to telework is likely permanent.

So let’s live in the modern world and ditch the ties.

If you must, wear a tie, considering going the inexpensive route on Amazon and get six ties for a great price, like the ones below.

One Obvious (to Some) Tip To Making Videos People Want to Watch

I realized recently that a lot of high-level senior government officials want to make videos, and do video interviews, seemingly for the sake of making a video. But they forget the critical rule in making a video: it has to be visual.

There has to be a visual component to making a video; there has to be something for the viewer to see. This is the same reason that the standard talk shows on ESPN, while the anchors discuss Tom Brady, will play Tom Brady highlights on repeat several times. It’s the same reason that Wolf Blitzer on CNN will show footage from Syria while talking a pundit about the same topic. It makes sense.

So the next time your principal tells you s/he wants to make a video and stand there in front of a green screen, remind him/her the reason for making a video–it has to be visual and has to have a visual component. If it doesn’t, ask yourself the simple question: Why wouldn’t someone just read a transcript? If you don’t have a good answer to that question, it’s probably better to skip the video.