The Evolution of Neck-wear: From Cravats to Ties
The history of fashion is decorated with continual changes, trends that come and go, and persistent classics that fashion-forward thinkers always seem to revamp and incorporate into the modern style. Among these fashion constants is one accessory that deserves our attention: Ties.
Neck-wear, as an accessory, started back in the 17th century during the 30-year war in France. King Louis XIII hired Croatian mercenaries who wore a piece of cloth around their neck as part of their uniform. The aesthetic value of it intrigued the king and thus, the birth of fashion accessory we now refer to as the ‘Cravat’.
The Journey to the Tie
The cravat, a precursor to the modern tie, underwent numerous transformations. In its initial stages, it was broadly classified into two categories: the long unfolded versions wrapped several times around the neck and the shorter version that was more intricately wrapped and knotted.
The 18th century saw the cravat evolve in both complexity and material. This was the period of the ‘Steinkirk’, named after the battle of Steinkirk, where soldiers allegedly had to quickly twist their cravats into a knot to prepare for battle. This improvised style became pop culture and a part of the court dress code. It was an era of elaborate knots and lace designs.
However, the 19th century saved us from the intricacies of complicated knots and frills with the introduction of the ascot, named after the famous horse race ‘Royal Ascot’, where it was first embraced. The ascot was easier to tie compared to its predecessor and more comfortable, bearing much resemblance with our modern ties.
The Tie as We Know It
Come 20th century, the tie manifested into something more recognizable by today’s standard. It was turned into a long piece of cloth, thinner and much easier to knot. The ‘four-in-hand’ knot became popular during this time and continues to be a standard way of tie knotting even today. There were, of course, other knots in trend, such as the Windsor knot introduced by Duke of Windsor, but the ‘four-in-hand’ always remained a classic.
Tie designs also evolved drastically during this period. Dot, stripe, paisley, and other prints were introduced. Neckties became a canvas for creative expression, reflecting the trends of the time.
Great Success, Substantial Failures
While the story of the necktie is one of great success, the journey was not without its failures. One notable misstep in the history of the necktie was the ‘Bolo tie’, a neckpiece consisting of a braided leather string secured with a decorative clasp or slide. Made popular in the 1950s in the United States, Bolo ties did not stand the test of time and went out of fashion.
Similarly, the 1970s saw the rise of broad, colorful ties, often referred to as ‘Kipper ties’. These excessively broad ties were trendsetters in that era but were not able to maintain their popularity.
Present Day Ties
In current fashion, the tie still holds a high remark. While the formality once associated with ties has decreased, it hasn’t lessened its influence on fashion style. Ties have become a symbol of professionalism, class and a complete ensemble that defines the modern gentleman.
Today, the resurgence of Skinny ties and Bow ties is reshaping the modern definition of glamor and sophistication. Designers are venturing into experimental prints and bold colours, thereby pushing fashion boundaries.
Future of Ties
The journey of ties from cravats to its current form is a testament to the long-standing relationship of fashion and functionality. While the future of ties may bring an evolution in style, fabric or design, one thing that is certain is that ties will continue to be an essential part of our wardrobes.
Whether it’s a classic four-in-hand knot or an experimental Eldredge knot, the tie continues to be a statement piece, a symbol of one’s personal style and a nod to the remarkable history of neck-wear that dates back to centuries.