29 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 87

Q. I hale, for as long as I can remember,

as did my grandfather and father before me. worn a gold-wire stock pin in my tie. In these increasingly egalitarian and 'non-elitist' days, it appears to elicit either quizzical mirth or tiresome unfunny quips, such as 'Why have you got a safety pin in your tie — punk rock went out years ago?' and 'Why do you wear a nappy pin?' Political correctness has seen me and my ilk consign my Brigade of Guards and Old Etonian and Vikings ties to the back of my tie rack. The stock pin is the last outward sign of one's own type and tribe. Have you any suggestions as to a suitably cutting reply to the ignorant with regards to the above?

C.C.S., Norfolk A. Of course you must continue to wear it. Unnerve the mockers by smiling kindly and saying, 'Don't you worry about correct dress. You've got enough on your plate as it is and no one holds that sort of thing against anyone else these days.' Meanwhile, to those readers who have been inquiring about the acceptability of tie clips — tie clips have been considered naff but are becoming acceptable, provided they are suitably discreet and made of a precious metal. The advantage the clip has over the pin is that it does not leave a series of holes in your silk ties.