Friday, August 21, 2015

The Complete History of Neckties

The History of Fashion Neckties - From 221 B.C. to the Present


Regarding neckties, throughout history there have been random influences on fashion from left to right; A Terracotta Warrior, Leif Eriksson, Croatian Soldier, Beau Brummel, the Duke of Windsor, and Daniel Craig - James Bond 007


Nice Tie Store presents the story of neckties. Actually, the origin of neckties is not just fashion history; necktie history is part of world history.  This seemingly useless accessory of clothing that men either love or hate has taken quite a path through the ages.  Men's ties have evolved through the unique influences of political and social events that have affected men's fashion in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

What purpose does a necktie serve and how did it become part of men's apparel?  This is a question often asked by men and women, especially young men who are not so fond of tying a noose around their neck. You'll find the answer here in the Complete History of Neckties.  If you want the short and abbreviated answer to the question - the necktie is form of expression for a man. "Neckties satisfy modern man’s desire to dress in art,” Harry Anderson, American Magician, and actor. 

The history of neckties can be traced through modern civilization as a sort of evolution of men's apparel. Concerning evolution, this is not true but for fun, it is added here; around one hundred thousand B.C. a gorilla fashioned a crude necktie out of leaves and vines in hopes of successfully courting a wife.  He gets his bride and passes his ingenuity to a very great grandson who later invents the wheel a turning point in evolution. 

The necktie was invented in Croatia, or at least that is where a form or fashion of neck cloth tied as a necktie of sorts can be traced back in history as being widely used.  If you don't believe so then consider this fact; the word "Cravat" which is how they say necktie in most European languages and as well in Spanish on both sides of the Atlantic.  Historians trace the first recognized use of neck tied fabric as part of fashion attire being originated by Croatians.  The Croatian word "Croat," which also means the people of Croatia, was how languages illustrated and adapted the term to describe the article of dress that would become the modern necktie.
Modern day Croatians rein-act a military ceremony
celebrating their introduction of the necktie as
fashion
 in the 17th Century during the 30 year Religious 
War of Europe 

In fact, primitive man did adorn feathers and other forms of artistic display around their necks.  However, this would not be the invention of ties or even a predecessor of the modern necktie.  This was certainly an early sort of fashion statement that signified a way of distinction of character and personality.  That is in fact, basically what modern ties are, a form of self-artistic expression. 

Necktie history notes the tying of cloth around a man's neck into an accessory fashion about 330 years prior to the new Millennium during the Thirty Years War which was a conflict involving religious beliefs in 17th century Europe. A King, a mercenary army with an unusual addition to uniforms, and a noble cause set the stage for a fashion accessory that lives on to this day.  There is a clear-cut relationship between fashion on one hand, and power and wealth on the other.  Fashion generally follows power and wealth.   This old adage spells out the creation of the evolution of neck wear, not its true actual origin.  There are accounts of neck cloths tied as a form of necktie much earlier in civilization.  However, without this acceptance by the King of France Louis XIV, of tying cloth around a man's neck in the 17th century, neckties would not have had their fateful way in the world.  

A Terra-Cotta Chinese Army from 221 B.C. wearing neckties
The history of ties considers other discoveries by archaeologists and historians.  There are several earlier known existences of neckcloths as a fashion of necktie.  Two are noteworthy. Ties were an unusual thought as a fashion accessory in China in 221 B.C. - the first known existence of fabric wrapping a man's neck but there is clear evidence of neck tied cloths.  In the neckwear industry, certainly in Europe, this not a very highly respected thought as for sure in this was an interestingly unknown fact until recently.  Old School ideas seem to hold water with great resilience.  As a result of the excavation in China in 1970, of the "Terracotta Army of the first Emperor of China," there is a challenge to the claim by Croatians that the necktie is their innovation and their place in the history of fashion.   Among the 7000 terracotta soldiers unearthed dressed in armor, many of which have a necktie wrapping their necks.  The apparent use of neckwear in China ended after the Han Dynasty took rule in 206 B.C. and neckwear would not be seen again in China until the 20th century.  Additionally, in 101 - 106 B.C. civilization has had neckties or more likely neckcloths seen the Roman Military is seen in artworks with neckwear worn as a random uniform.  Although only Roman soldiers were probably allowed to wear a "necktie" as it is a common thought that the fashion rule of Rome kept necks free of cloth. In summary, Roman Soldiers were not allowed to wear neck clothes but their servants were not.

Roman soldiers wearing neckwear depicting in artwork
Overlooked by fashion historians is a conclusion regarding Norsemen and their adventures in Europe and even the Americas pertaining to their influence in men's attire during the Viking Age from the late 8th century through the mid 11th century. Vikings often wore capes or draped overcoats of fur to keep warm in their lands of extreme cold climates and while at sea. You may note that a statue of Leif Eriksson in Reykjavik, Iceland celebrating his discovery of the New World in 1000 A.D. depicts a necktie cloth attached to his cape. An illustration below also has a Viking with a cloth tie fastened to his coat with the ties resembling a modern necktie.  Since it is was accepted that shirts and coats had to have fastening cloths that could be tied to the personal likeness and fit it is fair to speculate that the evolution of the necktie had a dynamic use prior to the invention of the button and button hole first appearing in Germany in the 13th century.  These cloth ties evolved into a neck cloth and eventually a neck-tie that resembles the modern tie.

Leif Eriksson and the Viking Neckties
About 15 centuries later, again in the form of military dress by Croatian Soldiers - is the introduction of men's neckties seen by historians.  Historians noticed for the third time, and also the first widely recognized appearance of ties, during a thirty-year 'religious" war in the early 17th century waged by King Charles V of Spain against reformists.  Fashion trends developed as soldiers from all of Europe fought and cultures and dress clashed.  Mutual respect and honor followed the battles that inflamed all of the European Continent creating changes that affected at the very least acceptance of religious belief, geography and national borders, cultural tolerance, government, a realignment of European power and influence, and even fashion.

The dress accepted "fashionable" throughout most of Europe was lace ruffs around the neck. Even after the Middle Ages, fashion dress was "ruled appropriate" strictly for each class.  War was expensive forcing many cost savings measures, and fashion was one cut back as men were to adorn ruffs with a strict law allowing men to wear ruffs only at funerals and other such occasions, ( ruffs were an expensive use of lace-up top 15 meters ).  The Croatian soldier wearing a cravat or cravat ( English translation "necktie" ) as part of his uniform caught the attention of the continent.  This Middle Age Custom or dress was in part, a form of identification on the battlefield and also part of folk costume.  Wearing this necktie as part of their uniform in battle throughout Europe, the Croatian Soldiers gained respect - widely known for their mercenary ways. They were recruited along with German Soldiers by France, in 1635, after France declared war on Spain - entering the conflict, short on troops and willing to hire soldiers.  

King Louis XIV of France accepted
the cravate as fashion accessory

The Croatian soldiers and their cravats were noticed not only by the people of many European nations including the fashionable French but more importantly by royalty.  By fate, around this time the shirt collar - turned down came into fashion, a result of the formal decree by all countries ruled by Spain, Austria and other Catholic countries banning ruffs" Capitulos de reformacias 1623".  This was a time that the "golilla" a Spanish term for a linen and cardboard collar was accepted as fashionably correct.  And, a fine cloth to wrap the collar closed was a perfect solution.
Croatian soldiers and cavalry of the Thirty Year 
Religious War of 17th Century
Fascinated with the valor of the Croatian mercenaries in a religious war the King accepted neckties as appropriate dress.  However, the necktie or cravat was only noted by the French, and not accepted as a fashion style.  

Only after two decades, did King Louis XIV of France, 1638 - 1715, fancy the cravat.  The necktie-cravat was not "accepted attire" at court as old standing customs governed fashion. This changed when the Queen Mother Anne of Austria ( born in Spain ) died giving King Louis XIV rule of his right.  A painting by Henri Testelin hangs at Versailles depicting King Louis XIV wearing a cravat.  His necktie collection was extensive made from fine fabrics and styled by the most revered fashion designers of the time.  He had his own "cravatier" who would lay our several cravats each day for the King to select which one he would wear.  With-in one year of King Louis XIV acceptance of the cravate, London's elite became enamored by the fashion and King Charles II of England the British spent fortunes on expensive lace from Venice to have his neck wear made.
 
The "Royal Cravtes" regiment of Croatian soldiers, formed in 1667, wore cravats made of linen, lace, and muslin.  Uniforms, especially accessories for soldiers were not commonplace among the military and the use of this necktie was a distinctive dress.  They were fighting as mercenaries for France and with the French support, suffered great losses politically while attempting a "Coup D'etat" in a struggle for self-rule.  The country of Croatia never fully recovered from the failed conspiracy against their unwanted rule by the Halsburgs.  They were different, noble and they had a political cause that may have drawn sympathy from King Louis XIV.  His acceptance of the Cravat was the birth of a fashion phenomenon that swept the globe and continuing today in men's' attire.  The Dutch, Belgians and even English authors were fond of cravats but the credit for making the cravat fashionable was King Louis XIV.  Thus, "fashion follows power and wealth."

Napoleon Bonaparte had his influence on 
men's fashion, as with any man of power 
Napoleon was always in grand attire
Napoleon had his influence on fashion as did most military leaders. The French led the fashion world through the 18th Century up until the French Revolution of 1789-1799.  English influence became predominant after the beginning of the 19th Century.  George Bryan "Beau" Brummel 1778 - 1840 a leader in British Fashion of the day brought the necktie to great innovation influencing the Prince of Wales - later to become King George IV.  Beau Brummel's details of necktie knotting and design won him favor with England and most of Europe.  He is credited with fashioning the modern men's suit worn with a necktie. He claimed he would spend five hours of the day just dressing and extravagantly boosted a man's boots be shined with champagne.  

Ties were still black or white and great discussion was involved about this in England, Germany, France, Italy and other European nations.  In 1820 when King George V was crowned he introduced the black tie, which was not so popular with his guests who often kept a white tie in their pockets.  After the beginning of 19th Century colored neckties and ties with patterns appeared partially due to schools, hunting, sports, and military influence.  By the mid 19th Century neckties started to resemble modern day neck wear.

Ludwig Van Beethoven with a necktie under his collar -
clearly not a scarf
Since the British had colonies throughout the world their necktie fashion spread to almost every continent with China the only exception.  The French did not except the British fashion and tried to go their own way concerning men's fashion and neckwear.  Great men throughout history wore neckties as depicted in paintings; Napoleon, I Emperor of France wore his cravat - a soldier from a young age, as did George Washington - soldier and the first President of The United States, Benjamin Franklin a statesman, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, ( certainly not soldiers or politicians ).  Any painting depicting these honored men and other celebrated men over the past 300 years will illustrate a cravat tied around their necks.  

The shape and design of colors and patterns of the cravat changed and of course, the military again dictated this.  Before the turn of the 20th century, realizing that their soldiers were easy targets wearing bright red uniforms, the British were outfitted with drab green uniforms.  Each regiment decided on their own, what tie to wear with a different stripe going across the tie in a pattern of colors and stripe width.  With this need to be individual the "Rep Stripe" necktie was born.  Across the Atlantic American soldiers followed suit, however, the stripes go the other way.  The distinction between the European Rep Stripe tie vs. American Rep Stripe tie is simple enough.  The difference is the direction of the stripe from the left shoulder crossing the heart or from the right shoulder crossing the heart.

“A well tied tie is the first serious step in life,"
 Oscar Wilde, poet, play write of great acclaim,  
1854 – 1900.  He tied his first tie at he age
of 2 while wearing a smoking jacket


This New World American vs. the Old World European look was distinctive and of course gave way to British designers fashion designers creating ties with polka-dots and colorful patterns.  After the turn of last century, these fancy designs produced an unlikely trend with retailers - ties were designed much like a women's' thought for fashion - but for a product meant for a man. This was a marketing ploy probably, as fashion houses took note that women were buying their men neckties.  Appealing to their sense of color and style was a natural conclusion.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their influence in necktie history is quite another story about fashion and love.  It was not just by chance that the famous necktie knot became to be known worldwide as the Windsor.  This British Royal made famous, to the World the beautiful and symmetrical Windsor Tie Knot.  The most popular necktie knot "The Windsor Knot" was named after the Duke of Windsor against his wishes.  Folklore has it that his father King George V passed down this tie knot along with the crown jewels.   He is not known for inventing the Windsor tie knot however he is the reason it became so popular.  In 1936, after just a one-year reign as King of Britain, Edward the VIII abdicated his throne to marry Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson an American divorcee - women he was rumored to having an affair with.  His brother took his throne and the title of Duke of Windsor was given to him.  The dashing gentleman captivated the world with his sacrifice of the throne for love.  He sported the symmetrical necktie knot that American journalists adorned and inadvertently gave him credit for during the fan fair of publicity and photographs of the Paparazzi.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

The Windsor Tie knot was a very meaningful contribution to men's fashion as this necktie knot commands the most attention and respect.  The finished look is a symmetrical knot with a dimple below.  It is fairly easy if you know how to do it.   The problem is almost no one knows the easy way to tie this fashionable tie knot.  The Duke in a series of photographs showed the World a very complicated method to create this tie knot.  What could be the greatest hoax of last century, save the Beatles Paul McCartney being dead, the Duke made the tie knotting difficult by changing a key move when completing the knot.  Presumably, he must have motivated by the fact that the no one should be so handsome and distinguished as the Blue Blood Royals.
The Duke of Windsor tying his tie in a famous photographic sequence

To learn more about the Duke of Windsor and the necktie knot inadvertently name after him check out The Mystery of the Windsor Necktie Knot - A Love Story Like No Other,   a King, a Would be Queen and a Tie Knot Fashion Statement.  This tale of Duke of Windsor is a part of a controversial history and is a well-known sore in the British fashion and political world.  Many Brits do not give the Duke credit for his wonderful necktie knotting and a prejudice of sort has followed to this day.  So much so that even Ian Fleming's spy 007 James Bond considered a man that wore a Windsor Tie Knot as a Cad and not to be trusted.  It is no wonder that some of those bad guys out to conquer the World, that Bond had to eliminate - looked so handsome with their perfectly symmetrical Windsor Knotted ties.

A major contribution to the necktie was by an American tie manufacturer Jesse Langsdorf in 1924. His idea was simple; three pieces of fabric cut, with a stiff wool lining and sewn together with the invention of the slip stitch along the back of the tie closing the envelope.  This stitch allowed the tie to move along the closing thread while tying knots; eliminated ironing and necktie damage from the abuse of the taking the tie on and off.  The necktie had reached its present form in this patented design. The modern tie as we know it evolved from this form.  Shrinking in width every 15 years or so from about 1 ½ inches to about 4 ½ inches in accordance with shirt collar and lapel width and shape of a jackets' opening. 

In the 1920's the Art Deco ties of the Jazz Age are attributed to artists Picasso and Braque.  Salvador Dali created the first recognized novelty ties taking his artwork as illustrations on ties much to the surprise of the art world.  Very likely this could be an early form of branding that would later become a mainstay in marketing "the modern T-shirt illustrating a company logo."  


The belly warmer tie
An American trend in the 40s were ties as wide as 5 inches or more affectionately called the “Belly Warmer”, often with a pinup girl or a hula girl and palm trees painted on it. Introduced as a fashion spoof, the belly warmer tie became rather trendy after actors like Bob Hope, Alan Ladd and Danny Kay started wearing them. A sexy version followed with beautiful naked pin-up girls painted on the lining of the back side of the bottom of the wide blade which became a fashionable secret.

Mark Abramhoff and Ralph Marlin's famous fish ties
The 80s saw the "Power Tie" and the 90s saw casual dress take its toll on ties.  Still, neckties remained a statement of being serious about business and by contrary, of course, being personal and even silly.  The silly side gave way to fun novelty theme ties.  Mark Abramhoff's patent of the fish shaped tie became the brainchild of a shift in necktie design that became an extension of a man's hobbies, his personality and character, and charm.  Novelty neckties illustrating hobbies, Van Gogh and Monet artwork, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe, and oddly enough Harley Davidson Motor Cycles by Abramhoff's Ralph Marlin Company became wildly popular in the 90's.   

Four unlikely necktie designers Salvador Dali, Jerry Garcia, Peter Max, and Rush Limbaugh
A line of ties illustrating the Beatles music themes became popular in the 90's and in soon after ties with pictures of the Beatles themselves.   Pianist and pop rock star Elton John's music inspired a line of ties, themed after his lyrics were made by Castle Neckwear in Los Angeles.  

Ties illustrating the "pop" art of Peter Max set a new stage for artistic ties. Others artists like Christian Lassen famous for his underwater scenes followed.  These tie lines were mostly licensed by necktie manufacturers providing unique artistic neckties for a man to express himself. Ties illustrating the licensed artwork of Marvel Comics and D.C. Comics, Disney, Bart Simpson, Star Wars, and ties with Tabasco and Endangered Species themes became the rage of non-conservative dress.  Licensed novelty ties became a big retail draw especially popular with young men and even women who waitress at Denny's, the Cheese Cake Factory and other restaurants.

In the mid 90's Wall Street became amazed at a rather very surprising tie line that became a fashion statement that was a contradiction.  A man who wanted to be a rebel and still wear a tie had his wish with the creation of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead ties.  These ties were designed and modeled using Jerry Garcia's art; he had been at first a talented art student in San Francisco's Art Institute. 
At a time when fashion was pushing all limits, Gianni Versace created neckties with enough emotion, color, and vivid design to stop traffic and get recognized.  As well Pancaldi neckties were a great success with ethnic men and non-introverts thanks to their elegant and super colorful designs.  These "avant-garde" style ties became popular with men that wanted to be noticed.  Similarly, Rush Limbaugh No Boundaries designs were created with enough color and abstract patterns that they gave way to cause a national fashion phenomenon in America.  Martin Wong ties became were also very popular with ethnic men.  They were extremely attractive designs were Art Deco themes and abstract panels that highlighted subtle hues.   These neckties were the opposite of conservative styles that were striped, simple patterns, or small medallions, that were the preferred choice of bankers, accountants, and other professionals that had to be careful not to offend anyone wearing a flashy or loud tie. 


"Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" Regis Philbin's 
Monochromatic necktie fashion trend
Television and movie stars had been an influence on fashion however until Regis Philbin wore a solid color tie that matched the color of his shirt did that phenomenon make its mark on necktie fashion.  The monochromatic tie and shirt look became known as the Million Dollar tie craze, getting its name after his very popular game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

After the turn of the 20th Century necktie design turned conservative taking a turn back to rep stripes.   An event that had caused great despair and even greater political and diplomatic changes also created a fashion trend, short-lived but none-the-less very widespread.  Neckwear retailers and manufacturers answered the call as the tragedy of September 11, 2001 encouraged American men to sport patriotic ties with the same vigor as most Americans who displayed American Flags on the car antennas, and their front porches.  The seriousness of the state of Geopolitical climate attributed to conservative dress.  Television anchors and reporters, politicians and of course bankers could not be seen as soft or not on guard.  

Throughout the decade conservative ties were the norm, although liberal fashion buffs held out fancying novelty ties and bold colorful abstract panel designs.  The opposite of conservative neckties was sharp and exact.   Ties that screamed in color and loud design seemed to blossom.   Electric ties evolved from the Rush Limbaugh No Boundaries ties which came to an end in 1997 after selling about 6 million ties.  Sold almost exclusively through the Rush Limbaugh mailing lists and through online stores, these bright ties were wild and practically electric in attraction. 

The Internet retailing of ties became a source for wild and different ties as most department stores went with the conservative trend.  Additionally, many retailers either severely cut back on their stocking of neckties or stopped selling ties altogether.  Save the Internet, novelty ties became hard to find with the exception of specialty retailers in kiosks for the holidays.  Collector novelty neckties became a unique business for Internet retailers as almost all licensed novelty ties were discontinued making fancy "conversation" themed ties illustrating Marvel Comics Superheroes and the like a sort of commodity. 

"The Apparel Off Proclaim the Man," 
William Shakespeare
The recession of 2008 and the casual dress trend that started a decade earlier had taken its toll on the necktie industry, especially on unique licensed royalty-burdened novelty ties that were costly to manufacture and risky to venture into.  The designs and themes of novelty ties became a casualty; as often fashion is influenced by outside forces other than designer whims and ideas not to mention die-hard consumers that cannot live without Tabasco or Endangered Species ties.  

In 2009, despite this cautious manner, a rather odd thing happened on the fashion world and neckties which were carefully crafted by Christian Aguilar a marketing wizard.   Clothing, sunglasses, sneakers and ties, of course, illustrating tattoo art by San Francisco artist Ed Hardy became very popular proving that although there was a recession a fresh idea could still spark interest and profit.

Ed Hardy, Christian Aguilar Tattoo Art Neckties
Think of the dashing spy James Bond 007 wearing casual clothes. Daniel Craig may still have his good looks but command the authority Bond style - Hardly!  How about Frank Sinatra, he was always dressed to the "nines." and getting 100% respect. No doubt the dashing men that are movie stars have a great influence on fashion trends.

With an understanding of necktie history and how various cultures and societies have contributed to this fashion accessory, it is fair to say that neckties are here to stay.  Not only is wearing a tie a tradition of manhood, they are an important element of men's fashion.  Women love them and the casual trend has seen its run.  Being serious about dressing is a commonplace habit for men as Shakespeare had noted: "the apparel oft proclaim the man." 

Ties have truly become an important fashion accessory using color and pattern to create a means of a gentleman's self-expression.  If the King of France, Louis XIV could have ever imagined what he started when he decreed wearing neckcloth was acceptable for men.  Well, that is one thing the French can claim for the record.  Although the invention of the contemporary necktie is a Croatian contribution to men's fashion.  Unless of course, you would rather give credit to the "lover-boy" gorilla 100,000 years ago.

Watch this great video The Origin of Neckties












Jeffrey Hunter
Nice Tie Store