The History of the Necktie

History of the NecktieNeckties have become a prominent of daily attire for men, especially professional working men. Neckties are worn on collared shirts, suits and are also being used as a fashion icon nowadays. However, the history of the necktie dates way back to the time of the Chinese and the Romans, who used to wear it as a part of their uniform, or as a type of an emblem which was used to discern their group or faction. Throughout the centuries, some type of neck wear, different than the standard outdoor scarf, could be traced through, but it did not exactly resemble the modern day necktie, although it is said that such neckwear managed to lay down the foundations of the necktie that we see at present.

The first traces of the modern necktie can be traced back to the Western Europe, when it was spotted first being worn by Croatian mercenaries, who were currently serving in the Croatian Military Frontier in the French Service. This was the time during the Thirty Years’ War, which ran through 1618 to 1648. These men used to wear what was a tradition in their service; a small, knotted handkerchief. This handkerchief managed to arouse the interest of the Parisians. Ultimately, the term ‘cravat’ was formed mainly due to the minor difference between the native Croatian word for Croats, which is Hrvati and the difference between the French word for Croats, Croates.

All of a sudden, a fashion craze broke throughout the European nations, as both men and women began wearing pieces of cloth around their necks, tied in a similar fashion to the ‘cravat’. In the later years of the 17th century, the men used to wear intricate lace cravats, which took a significant amount of time and effort to arrange. Commonly, these lace cravats were tied in place with the help of cravat strings, which were neatly kept in place and tied together in the form of a bow.

Another major event that propelled the fame of the neckties during that time was the battle of Steenkerque, which happened in 1692. During that time, the princes just wound the cravats around their necks and let the twisted ends pass through a buttonhole in their jackets. Ultimately, these became known as the Steinkirks, and were a major symbol throughout the war. By the 1720s, a different kind of neckwear had made an appearance in the market, known as ‘stocks’. Basically, this was a tiny piece of muslin, which was folded in to a little band, and wound several times around the collar of the shirt, and then secured from the back with the help of a pin.

Even though these were not exactly related to the neckties, they did manage to influence the overall design of the necktie that is worn in modern times. In the later years of the 18th century, the necktie managed to rise to the fore again. Their appearance can be attributed to a small band of young men, who were known as the macaronis. Basically, these were Englishmen in their youth who came from different countries of Europe, mainly Italy, bringing with them unique and different ideas regarding fashion.

During the middle years of the 18th century, when the cravat was rising to fame, there was a significant amount of interest in how to tie a proper cravat. Ultimately, this lead to a series of different publications which were made in order to promote the types of cravats and their different designs. The first book to be published regarding this topic was called Neckclothitania, which provides detailed instructions and illustrations that can be used to tie a total of 14 different types of neckties.

By the time the industrial revolution began in the 1860’s, a need for something that was easily wearable, comfortable and lasting for an entire workday became very high. This was the time when the modern necktie, which is currently worn by millions of men around the globe, first came in to being. The tie was long, quite thin and it wasn’t easy to undo it unless people had appropriate knowledge on how to tie it properly.

Several changes were made to the design during this time, and the famous ‘four in hand’ knot was made. There is no evidence or proof as to how it became to be known as the ‘four in hand’, but unconfirmed sources state that because it resembled the reins which could be found in a four horse carriage that was primarily used by the upper class of the British Empire. During this time, the larger and the more complicated version of the cravat which was used was replaced by the standard neckties and the bow ties, which was essentially a shorter version of the popular cravat. For formal gatherings such as dinners and parties, a different type of neckwear was created, known as the Ascot tie.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, there were different designs and patterns that were used, and by the time of the ending of the First World War, the colored, hand painted neckties became a common feature all throughout America. Some of these ties also had a width of up to 4.5 inches. Up till the 1950s, these ties were very common and worn by a large number of the general public.

Before the beginning of the Second World War, the ties that were worn were slightly shorter in size than what they are today. This was mainly because men used to wear their trousers at the natural waist as well as the success enjoyed by vests, which meant that the tie length was not as important as the tips are usually hidden. This lasted until 1951, when the unique ‘I’ look was created. This was promoted greatly by tapered suits, smaller brims on hats as well as slimmer lapels. The widths of ties decreased down to 3 inches, and kept on thinning up till the 1960s. The length of the tie also decreased to somewhere around the 52 inch mark. Minor changes were made until the necktie of the modern day began to get popular.