I belong to a group on LiveJournal called "Vintage Ads," and the other day someone posted this ad for Wembley Ties. The nice thing about Wembley ties is that they tell you what color suit or sport jacket and pants the ties go with. Best of all, they use "guy colors," like "brown," "black," "blue," and "gray," so a guy has a reasonably good chance of getting a tie that matches the suit.
Now, I understand: there are hundreds of shades of blue (e.g. royal blue, navy blue, sky blue, cadet blue etc.), but your average guy is not going to be quite that exact about the color of his clothes. When they go into a department store to buy a tie, most of the time they’re not going to have the suit with them, so they walk up to the counter and say "I need a tie to go with a brown suit," the clerk, who’s probably also a guy, is going to show him brown ties.
I realize, of course, that there are very few department stores of the type I grew up with, and more often than not buying a tie these days is a self-service affair, so the tag on the back that says "Wear with blue, gray, or black suit" is absolutely essential.
For that matter, who wears a tie these days, anyway? Plenty of people, actually, such as the guy who helps you pick out a tie at a department store. Until the last few years of my twenty year job, I always wore a tie in the classroom. I’d carry it with me and put it on when I got to work, frequently in the classroom with clients there. I was able to tie a fairly good Windsor knot in a tie and have it come out correctly most of the time, even without a mirror. In fact, I don’t think I could look in a mirror and tie a tie correctly.
I’m happy I’m retired and don’t have to wear a tie anymore…