Have you ever wondered what the history of the necktie is? Seriously. What is the purpose of having a piece of cloth dangling from the neck which serves no utilitarian purpose other than occasionally cleaning smudges from your eye-glasses? Obviously, a tie is considered an accessory piece, but, even so, it sure seems like a strange and awkward one. . . when you really think about it.
To begin unfolding this mystery, we need to travel back in time to the 17th century. During this time, men would wear a piece of cloth around their neck for the purpose of tying the top of a uniform jacket. The tie, therefore, served a utilitarian purpose, but also added an element of style. They were referred to as “La Cravate” and were the predecessor to that became a wildly-popular men’s fashion piece called the Cravat.
Cravat to Necktie
The Cravat, or neckband, was the forerunner for the necktie of today. The cravat was popular for several decades, until the late 1800s when the tie took a “turn” to look more like what you see today. At the turn of the century, cravats were on their way out and the tie was on its way in. By the time the 1920s arrive, the tie dominated over the Cravat as the preferred men’s neck fashion accessory.
In the decades that followed, the necktie has undergone many stylistic changes, but the overall design and method of tying the tie has remained unchanged. Some of the stylistic changes seen over the past century include variations in width preferences, length preferences, and pattern preferences. One of the most bizarre stylistic treatments (at least according to today’s standard) occurred during the 1960s when ties reached widths of six inches! Those ties were sometimes referred to as “kipper ties.” Then came the 1980s with the introduction of super skinny ties.
Still, though, the basic pattern and function of the necktie has remained true for over a century.
The great equalizer
Now that we’re well into the 21st century, neckties are as prevalent as ever and seem like they are here to stay. Where once ties were only something worn in higher society, ties are one of the great fashion equalizers for men. From billionaires Frank VanderSloot and Phillip Anschutz to the college student starting his first day an intern, the necktie has a place in the wardrobe of men everywhere.