A Brief History of Ties
The necktie has been a fashion accessory with both men and women for hundreds of years. Some believe the fabric strips were designed to hide buttons while others feel they were a way to look a little dressier. The truth is that they were actually formed as a part of a military outfit.
The Croatian Military Frontier
Today's neck tie actually dates back to the 1600s when members of the Croatian Military Frontier wore knotted pieces of fabric, “croates,” as part of their battle attire. At the time, the Croatians did not have military uniforms. The general rule of thumb was that soldiers wore neckbands made out of inexpensive materials, while officers received silk ones. This caught the interest of French soldiers who called it the “cravate.” Soon King Louis XIV was wearing one because he found it more comfortable than the constricting high collars worn in France. This created a fashion trend among French nobles.
During the late 1600s, the cravat was pushed aside by the “steinkirk.” The legend is that the French were surprised by the British and didn't have time to properly tie their cravats, so they twisted the ends and shoved them in their button holes. The steinkirk remained fashionable until the early 1700s and soon the cravat became the key fashion trend again.
For many years, cravats were white. In the late-1700s and 1800s, men and women started experimenting with color. Some started twisting a white and black cravat together to get a contrasting pattern. More colors emerged, especially with women starting to add cravats to their daily attire.
Enter the Tie
In the late-1800s, collars changed and a new “winged” collar entered the fashion scene. To meet the size of the newer collars, the size of cravats changed. Soon men were wearing bow ties, string ties, and official ties that were tied with a four-in-hand knot. Materials also changed and in addition to silk ties, moire and satin ties also started to enter the fashion scene.
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