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From Cravats to Catwalks: The History of the Necktie

From Cravats to Catwalks- The History of the Necktie-1

Today, the necktie symbolizes elegance and refinement, and is a must-have component of formal and business attire. But it didn't start that way; the necktie's journey from functional accessory to fashion statement has been a fascinating evolution. Join us as we explore the history of the necktie, including its origins, symbolism, and the various styles that have graced fashion through the ages.

Who Invented the Necktie?

The widely accepted origin of the necktie is traced back to the 17th century during the Thirty Years War, when Croatian mercenaries, known as Hravat, donned long cloaks and scarves tied at the neck. The French, captivated by this accessory, renamed it the cravat and swiftly introduced it to high society.


The Earliest Instances of Neckties

While the Croats may be credited with popularizing the necktie, evidence of neckwear dates back much further than the 17th century. Archaeological findings in ancient Egypt reveal the presence of the Knot of Isis, a precursor to the modern tie, around the necks of mummies in 1550 BC.

The Terracotta Army of China (210 BC) and the Column of Trajan in Rome (113 AD) also depict soldiers wearing cloth around their necks, indicating symbolic rank and status.


Why Was the Necktie Invented?

Neckties have historically served both practical and symbolic purposes. They could indicate military rank, class, and socioeconomic status. They also served the practical purpose of keeping shirts closed. Tying scarves around the neck during battle metaphorically connected the head and body in times of war. Women would also tie scarves around their husbands' necks to symbolize love and fidelity.

Neckties Styles Throughout History

Over the centuries, artists and photographers have captured a myriad of tie styles. Ties have undergone significant transformations from impractical and complicated designs to the more conventional ones seen today.


The dominance of black and white ties shifted over time, reflecting changes in fashion and societal norms. In America, post-World War II neckwear saw a burst of color that prevailed through the 60s and 70s, when leisure suits encouraged more casual dressing and fewer occasions for ties. It was not until the 80s that more conservative styles started to reappear, and the necktie became the norm again.

In the present day, neckties come in many colors, patterns, fabrics, and forms of formality. The standard tie measures 3.25 inches wide and 57 inches long, with the four-in-hand knot being the most popular. Interestingly, the four-in-hand knot originated in the 1860s when coachmen would tie slip-knots to prevent their cravats from blowing in the wind while driving four-horse teams.

The necktie's journey from a military accessory to a versatile fashion statement is a testament to this accessory's appeal. What began as a symbol of rank and status has evolved into a staple of formal wear, adapting to changing trends and styles throughout history. Today, the necktie reflects personal taste and serves as a nod to the rich tapestry of its fascinating history.

Reference: The History of the Tie

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