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The history of the necktie

Depending on how one defines the term “necktie”, there will be a more or less long line of ancestors in the history of the tie. If you see the tie as a modification of a scarf or neckerchief, you will have to go back to the early days of spinning and weaving – because even then men and women wore longish pieces of cloth as adornment or to protect the neck from the cold.

When taking a look at the modern silk necktie, we don’t have to go back quite that far. It might be interesting that the word “tie” is derived from the neckerchiefs usually worn by Croatian soldiers, but this piece of information has barely any relevance because those neckerchiefs bear hardly any resemblance to the modern tie.

The actual ancestors are more likely to be found in the late 19th century, when step by step, the scarf was worn hanging down the neck in several variations. An improvement was the invention of the four-in-one-hand-knot. For more information on this type of necktie knot please visit our tutorial on How to Tie a Four in Hand Knot, as well as our general overview on all popular necktie knots: How to Tie a Tie

While to the end of the 19th century there were several popular “adornments” for the male neck, the necktie - the way we know it nowadays - took over in popularity with the beginning of the 20th century. Only the bow tie and the ascot tie survived in the fashion world from earlier times.

From1924 on it became accepted to cut the fabric in a right angle to the weaving direction instead of parallel to it – and this method is still used today. The American Jesse Langsdorf came up with the idea and had it patented under the brand name Resilio. Tie tailoring has changed little since then. The products only differ in quality of material and inlay, the quantity of outer fabrics used and the amount of hand labor.

After the tie had been predominantly rejected in the 60ties and 70ties since it was considered a symbol of the ascendant class of society as well as an indicator of the bourgeois attitude, in the 80ties a more moderate perception prevailed. Nowadays one chooses whether to wear a necktie arbitrarily, not necessarily because of an ideology. Contrarily, the tie lover does not have to justify his choice, not because the beginning of the 21st century is quite a tolerant era, but because the necktie has lost its polarizing effect.

The release from the “collar and tie compulsory” which has found its way into many occupational fields has by no means set an end to the necktie though. On the contrary: the manufacturers currently post the highest demand since the 50s.

Besides modern neckties, there are several other types of neckwear worn by men throughout the world today. One of the most popular alternatives to the necktie is the bow tie. Bow ties are much more formal and usually associated with formal black tie dress or specific jobs, such as architects and professors. Then there is the ascot tie and the bolo tie. The ascot resembles a cross between scarf and necktie. It originated in England in the late 19th century and was a required clothing accessory for the infamous horse race “The Royal Ascot”. The bolo tie has the least resemblance to the modern necktie. It is a string of leather that fastened with an ornamental clasp. The bolo tie originated in the early 1940s in Arizona. It is commonly associated with western and cowboy wear.