Californians aren’t exactly known for their stuffy workplace attire. Even so, the mayor of Lancaster, Calif., wants to forbid all city employers to require workers to don the enemy of the casual wardrobe: neckties.
At a meeting last week, Mayor R. Rex Parris asked the city attorney to look into whether such a policy is feasible.
The seemingly random proposal is a matter of public health, Parris said. Recently he read in a blog post that a new study in the journal Neuroradiology suggests wearing neckties lowers blood flow to the brain. The study contends that restricting circulation — by 7.5 percent on average, according to the research — could have fatal implications for someone with high blood pressure. And prior research showed that good cerebral circulation is associated with creativity.
“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.”
Because the policy would involve issuing infractions to offending employers, Parris has asked the city’s Criminal Justice Commission to look into whether such a rule is practical.
Parris, a well-known litigator, said he could buy a car with the amount of money he has spent on ties. And he has not stopped wearing them yet. That’s because most courts require attorneys to wear “business attire” in the courtroom, and for most judges that means wearing a tie.
Parris said he was unable to affix a tie when he broke his hand about 30 years ago. When he showed up in court without one, he was reprimanded by the judge.
For the new study, researchers in Germany scanned the brains of 30 men, half of whom wore neckties. A third of the men in the necktie group experienced at least a 10 percent drop in blood flow.
Because of the study’s small sample size, Parris has asked the city’s Healthy Community Commission to check its reliability.
The study does not explain how the 7.5 percent average decrease in blood circulation might affect brain function. But generally speaking, poor cerebral blood flow can lead to brain tissue death and result in stroke, hemorrhage and other conditions, according to Healthline, a consumer health information site.
This isn’t the first time neckties have gotten a bad rap. A 2003 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology showed that wearing ties too tightly may increase risk for blindness and glaucoma.