The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues


The wide circumference of an elaborate ruff beneath his gray beard, in the antiquated fashion of King James' reign, caused his head to look not a little like that of John the Baptist in a charger. --Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter)

A scarf should always be tied in a hurry. Perfect symmetry makes it or Cancel below. Changlook dowdy. --Veronique Vienne (1997:158)

The black necktie became the 'feminist uniform' of the New Women of the 1890s . . . --Elaine Showalter (2001)

Body adornment. An item of clothing or jewelry worn a. to conceal or reveal the frailty of the neck dimple, and b. to accent the masculinethickness (i.e., strength) or feminine thinness (i.e., gracility) of the human neck.

Usage: The human neck is rather slim and suggestive of vulnerability. Thus, a man may "widen" his neck with a button-up shirt collar andknotted tie. (A long tie adds an eye-catching line to accent the vertically ascending height of the face, head, and torso; see high-stand display; cf. vehicular stripe.) Moreover, his right and left shirt-collar points juxtapose to form a visual arrow shape, which points upward and thereby draws eyes to the man's face. A woman may conceal the frailty of her neck dimple with a choker or scarf for enhanced status and formality in business. In courtship, men and women wear casual, collarless clothing to showcase the neck's appeal.

Anthropology. In battle, even shirtless men cover their throats. The costume of the traditional Masai warrior, e.g. (which consists of a red tunic worn over bared shoulders and arms), includes a layer of beaded necklaces to mask the neck. In the more verbose combat arenas of the corporate world, an executive's silk tie or MBA scarf plays a similar role.

Business scarf. "The most common [business woman's blouse] is the front tie bow; it adds softness and femininity and is almost universally flattering. It is easy to wear and looks very good with a suit. The scarf should be attached to the blouse in the back so it will stay in place" (Bixler 1984:169).

Business tie. "The four-in-hand knot is generally the best one. The Windsor knot, which is larger, was introduced by the Duke of Windsor to wear with his cutaway shirt collars. The space at the top button was quite wide, so he needed a very large knot to fill in the area" (Bixler 1984:128).

Dress down demise. Due to an economic slowdown in mid-2001, "On Wall Street and points west, much of corporate America is again buttoning the top button and leaving the khakis at home" (Kresse 2001:D3).

Evolution. The earliest necktie-like garment may have been the neckband worn by Roman legionnaires. Later in the French Revolution, neckbands signified political stances: white for "conventional," black for "revolutionary." Later still, the 19th century cravat survived to precurse the modern tie, as a means to show moods, occupations, and allegiances--and to cover bared throats around a conference table.

Media. "That's why the necks can now be bared, said David B. Givens, the director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Wash., and the anthropologist who coined the term 'neck dimple.' 'The exposed-neck look in business attire is a true paradigm shift,' Dr. Givens said. 'In the old days of just a few years ago, you had to look powerful in business. But now information has won out over brute politics and corporate hierarchy. The information-rich young staff gained power and pushed for casual dress, and the first items removed were the MBA scarf and the necktie. When you've been to Information Mecca, you no longer need to wear the veil. It's redundant as a power cue'" (New York Times [Tierney 2000]).

RESEARCH REPORT: On the streets of New York City people are four times more likely to give money to panhandlers wearing ties than to those who are tieless (Molloy 1988).


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