Have you ever asked why you had to wear a necktie to go with your business wear? Did you ever wonder how this style evolved to what it is today? You could be thinking how this piece of cloth whose value is purely ornamental, as it does not offer any protection from the elements and surely not going to offer any comfort, has become the norm. It is undeniable that men around the world would wear neckties to improve their look. From the first ever necktie, to the custom ties ordered from the internet, this article will study how neckties came to be.
Where it all began
Historians agree that the conception of the necktie happened in France. It was the 17th century, during the 3-year far. France’s king then, King Louis XIII procured the services of some croatian mercenaries who had fancy piece of cloth hanging from their neck. It was part of their combat uniform. Unlike contemporary neckties, however, they did serve a purpose. They were used to tie the top of their jacket but their decorative effect was prevalent which King Louis III had taken notice of. In fact, the king liked it so much that he ordered that all royal gathering attendees will have to wear a similar piece of clothing. He later named it “La Cravate”, an ode for the croatian soldiers who helped him in the war. Not trying to point out the obvious, but, this was the inception of another neck worn accessory, the cravat.
Evolution of the necktie – a timeline
During the 17th century, the early cravats resemble nothing like the one we wear to work today. This however was the norm in europe for at least two centuries after they were popularized. The neckties we wear today at work did not become mainstream until the 1920s. It has gone through a lot of changes since then but are sometimes too subtle to notice. The next part of this article will break down the events that unfolded from, a few years before the creation of the modern necktie, up to the designer ties and custom ties that we have today.
The tie in this period was already gaining traction and was considered a must-have accessory for any men. Cravats were the preferred accessory which were first demonstrated by the Croatians and later on popularized by the French. These ties were not the same however as now they were actually tied. It was not until a score earlier where the four-in-hand not had been discovered that was the only known way to knot a cravat. Until today, this form of knotting is still the most popular in tying up a cravat. Other neck worn apparel for men in this era includes the bow tie which goes well with evening white tie attires and the ascot which is a required formal accessory for men’s formal daytime wear in England.
The demand for more casual wear during this decade saw a decline in wearing ascots, bow ties and even cravats. Men during this era preferred wearing clothes that emphasized comfort, fit, as well as functionality. At the end of this decade, the ties are slowly inching in closer, by way of look, towards the modern neckties that we all know today.
This is probably the most important decade for the necktie. Modern New York taylor and inventor Jessie Langsdorf incepted a new way of cutting fabric when creating a tie. This invention would let the tie retain its shape even after wearing it. It also saw the inception of other new tie knots that are used until today. Neckties, during this era, finally overtook bow ties as the choice for men. Bow ties were relegated as a formal evening wear, reserved only for special occasions. Furthermore, this era was witness to the first appearance of the repp-stripe, a diagonally striped tie, and the British regimental tie.
This was the era of the Art Deco movement of the 1930s. This saw the noticeably wider usage of neckties which would often display bolded Art Deco designs and patterns. During this time, the Duke of Windsor came up with a new method of knotting which would later be known as the Windsor knot. It allowed men to wear the neckties shorter.
The world wars were fought in this era. Due to this, men’s fashion slowed down and did not offer anything stylishly exciting in men’s neckties. It is probably understandable as the whole world then had many more important things to worry about. The conclusion of the war, however, reenergized the fashion industry with brighter colors which is probably a testament to the optimism ahead. Necktie colors were bolder than usual and the patterns would stand out. Grover Chain Shirt Shop was a retailer then which advertised their neckties using scantily clad women wearing the neckties they were selling.
The 50s was famous for the prevalence of the skinny ties. These custom ties arose to complement the form fitting and tailored clothes that were dominating the fashion field. This was also the era were designers boldly took on new materials as the base of their neckties.
In a sudden shift from the 50s, the 1960s took necktie sizes to the other extreme. This era saw the creation of the widest neckties that have ever existed. They were named Kipper ties which were common then. These ties come as wide as 6 inches.
This was the time of the disco which greatly influenced the designs of every piece of clothing and the necktie in particular. The 70s took the idea of the wide ties from the 60s and really ran with it. The Western Tie, also known as the Bolo tie, was also invented during this era and became Arizona’s official state neckwear since 1971 up to today.
There is still about half a century more of tie evolution! Stay tuned for more!