Men’s neckties, where did they come from and who started the trend and for what purpose? And how has the cravat changed throughout history until the present day?
It just so happens that the cravat-style is much older than many may have thought. Once discovered in 1974, all 7,500 ‘terracotta army’ soldiers who were formed during the third century BC wore neck cloths. It’s interesting to note that there have been no other agreed upon accounts of others wearing such pieces of neck-attire until centuries later.
After that, as shown through the cravat-timeline, there have been instances where Roman orators wore a type of collar-like neck-piece to keep their vocal cords warm.
However, the cravat, as is commonly known as today actually originated from the ‘Croatians’, who used the knotted neckties as part of their distinctive battle attire. Since then, the tie has become associated with Croatia, since it was a part and parcel of their military uniform around 1950.
When the Croatians with their neck scarves came to France, King Louis XIV soon adopted the cravat attire, which comfortably overtook the pleated ruffs that were distinctive and common to European males of the time. The French then named such knotted neck pieces ‘la cravate’, and sourcing their word for the item from ‘Croat’.
Their elegance, ease of wear and aesthetic appeal soon attracted the rest of Europe who readily embraced the Croatian tradition of comfortable muslin cravats.
Since that time, there have existed many variations of this ultimately male-essential and sign of elegance and reserve. Interestingly however, in and around the nineteenth century, it was considered enough to start a duel or fight if one man touched another man’s cravat. And so, it was very much something not touched by other men.
The name by which many know the cravat today, namely tie, came into use in 1818, when a book exhibiting numerous ways to tie it used the word ‘tie’. A couple of decades after the publication of the book, the name ‘tie’ officially overtook the formerly known ‘cravat’. The vintage book features a number of lessons, etiquette and history concerning the neck piece, detailing issues such as various styles like the Americanized style, Oriental style among others.
Among the tips for wearing a cravat, the book states that “whatever style” one may use to tie the knot, once tied, it should not be changed “under any pretence whatever.” It’s therefore quite obvious to see the extent of how the tie was taken so seriously in those times.
In 1846, Germany and the US were producing ties on a mass-scale, and they increased in popularity around the world.
Over the twentieth century, all sorts of designer ties were created, some inspired by Art Deco movements of the 1920s and others were designed with certain geometrical patterns that became associated with wealthy individuals.
Ties today come in all sorts of designs and can be tailored to one’s specific requests. They are often worn with suits and symbolize professionalism and smartness.
The tie today is most commonly tied in a single or double Windsor knot, namely after the Duke of Windsor who introduced the triangular knotted style in 1936.