Three Presidents, No Neckties

Simultaneously historic and perhaps a big nothing, the shot was snapped on Thursday in New York City when President Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton gathered, before a Democratic fund-raiser, for the taping of “SmartLess,” a podcast hosted by the comedians Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.

With his beard and rumpled corduroy pants, Mr. Bateman was clearly the odd man out in a group of radiantly healthy alphas dressed in crisp blazers or suits. As one social media quipster put it, Mr. Bateman, the “Arrested Development” star who is soon to appear in a limited series with Jude Law, looked as if he was celebrating his release from the hoosegow. The other dudes were on hand to help cut the cake.

It was not Mr. Bateman, though, who generated online buzz with his attire. It was those three presidents appearing without ties. (Messrs. Arnett and Hayes also skipped the neckwear, and as it happened, the three presidents remained without ties straight through the evening’s event.) Were we once again at the precipice, as some commentators seemed to suggest? Was civilization nearing its end? Or were we yet again being reminded of the inexorable march from casual Friday to casual everyday, and to a world in which chief executives dress like field hands and the only people who can be relied on to sport a suit and tie outside a courtroom are bodyguards and limo chauffeurs?

Pity the poor tie. Pundits are forever writing its obit. Back in 2022, the doomsayers piled on when, at a G7 summit in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, world leaders including Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson “declared the end of the necktie,” according to Women’s Wear Daily, by posing for a group photo in suits and open-neck shirts.

World leaders at a G7 summit in Germany in 2022.Credit…Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Women’s Wear Daily, citing the pandemic and the corresponding boom in athleisure and active wear, noted that the formal suit — with that sadly diminished phallic accessory, the necktie — “no longer yields the intellect and vim it once did.”

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