Quelle honte!

The French president, Francois Hollande, has a personal problem. It's been noted that his tie has been crooked on two-thirds of the public events he's attended since his election last May. Even more embarrassing for a Socialist president, it's been seen to stray to the right.

So hot a potato has this issue become, thanks to a website called "Francois, ta cravate" (Francois, your tie), that he's now appointed a spin doctor to keep him on the straight and narrow. People are saying that their leader's (blue) tie is a visual metaphor for his indecision, and have suggested that he should drop wearing it altogether. Doing so would put him one step apart from his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, with US President Obama, and PM David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond, all of whom regularly, though not always, choose not to wear one.

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The debate about whether men who work in office, or any office come to that, should still feel obliged to wear a tie has been rumbling on for decades. For a time it seemed that no tie equalled no barriers, and that the tie-less man was cooler than cool.

But as far as I can tell, this is the first time the outcome has not been so predictable. Take Tim Davie, the acting director-general of the BBC. He had his collar thoroughly felt, so to speak, by sartorial commentators for not wearing a tie with his navy suit and white shirt on his first day in post. He was even accused of looking "silly" and warned that he would not be taken seriously. Eschewing the tie reflects an obsession with presentation over substance, said critics, and just looks insincere.

So which way will Francois go? It does appear he's caught between a knot and a hard place.