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Whither the Necktie? The End of One Natty Era

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The number of men who wear neckties has been declining rapidly. According to a recent Gallup Poll, less than 6 percent of the male labor force wore a tie to work every day last year.

Now the Men's Dress Furnishings Association, an industry trade group for the makers of neckties, announced that it is shutting down.

Has America come to the end of the necktie? By no means, says Marty Staff, CEO of JA Apparel. Staff showed up for his interview without a tie, which he says reflects the kind of personal choices men feel freer to make these days.

Staff notes that Democrat Barack Obama often appears in a jacket with an open collar. The style "looks modern," he says.

"I think when we look at guys 22 to 30, they recognize the need to wear a suit, but they don't want to lose their ability to express themselves," Staff argues.

"It's become more of a fashion accessory ... like an iPod case."

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