The History of the Tie
Most sartorialist’s like myself agree that the first known use of a necktie originated in the 17th century. This was during the Thirty Years’ War in France, (to which I’m guessing they had trouble thinking of a more imaginative name for a war that so happened to last 30 years).
Croatian mercenaries, hired by King Louis XIII wore a piece of cloth around their necks as part of their uniforms. This cloth wasn’t just a decorative addition to their bloodthirsty look, or to help signify what group they represented. It also served as a practical function, helping to tie the top of their jackets.
It was King Louis who was surprisingly quite taken by the fashion sense of these men and made the tie a mandatory accessory for his subjects at royal gatherings. Most fashions in the good old days were indeed influenced by royalty and it didn’t take long for the cravat to filter down through all the classes. The word cravat, (french for tie) actually came from King Louis naming the piece of cloth “la cravate” - honouring those Croatian soldiers.
These early cravats of the 17th century have little resemblance to today’s necktie. It was however a style that remained popular throughout Europe for over 200 years.
The tie as we know it today did not emerge until the 1920’s, when Jesse Langsdorf in New York patented a method of cutting the fabric on a bias (still not sure what this is but I think it’s a special fabric machine thingy) and sewing it in three segments.
This new method added elasticity to the tie so that once it was untied it returned to its original shape. This is still the method that the vast majority of ties are manufactured today.
It was at about this time that people started wearing ties in various ways, resulting in different types of knots. After World War II, ties became wider and more colourful, with fanciful patterns. Hand painted ties became accepted, as they started to show more of the owners identity.
During the youth culture of the 50s, the ties fell out of fashion as Marlon Brando and James Dean popularised t-shirts and leather jackets. Fashion was no longer influenced by royalty, with the youth instead, looking towards their idols on the big screen and stage.
The tie made a come back in the 60’s, thanks to fashion conscious bands like the Beatles.
However, this smart and clean cut look vanished soon after the hippy culture started to spread.
Towards the end of the 70s, pop icons like Brian Ferry and David Bowie once again popularised ties and the kipper tie, which was much wider and often garish in colour, became standard for men to wear with their suits.
The upwardly mobile professionals of the 80s, had a taste for the extravagant things in life. Having children later in life and taking on significant debt allowed them to lavish themselves with luxury goods, fast cars, holidays and expensive clothes.
The 80s saw some horrendous fashion statements but also sparked a massive comeback for the tie, which was worn by everyone from pop stars to financial yuppies.
In the 90s, ties were frequently used and became a requirement in many workplaces. The many style faux pas seen in the 80s slowly faded away. Bold, floral and paisley patterns became very popular – a style that has recently resurfaced as a popular print on many ties today.
During the 2000s, ties became thinner than they were the decade before and European designers helped to encourage this re-emergence of the skinny look tie.
How you tie or knot your tie can also vary. From the basic Four-In-Hand, the Half Windsor, through to the more adventurous knots such as the Trinity or Eldredge. How you choose to tie your knot is also up to you.
Today, ties are available in many patterns, shapes and sizes. Thankfully, we have a varied choice and whatever we decide to adorn around our neck, should simply be a matter of what tie we feel expresses our individuality. Me My Suit and Tie’s how to wear your tie will also help with advice if you are still unsure of how to approach this necessary accessory.