There has been a point in every man’s life when he pondered, why do we wear ties? What is the reason for it? How did it become such an integral part of a man’s dress? Let’s now examine the origins of how the man’s tie became what it is today.
The earliest predecessor of the tie was discovered in Xian, China back in 1974. When the first emperor of China, Qin Shih died in 210 B.C. hundreds of terracotta solider sculptures, was found buried with him to protect him in the afterlife. Around each and every statues neck was found “neck cloth” which is not found anywhere else in Chinese culture at this time. In ancient Rome around 113 A.D. the Emperor Trajan’s column was erected to commemorate his conquest of Dacia which show thousands of soldiers wearing an assortment of neckties, just like the Chinese there is no other record of anybody wearing neck wear in Italy at that time, nor anywhere else. The theory is that they were worn as a special symbol of honor.
Around the middle ages we find this same type of isolated wearing of “neckties” involved with soldiers in the military. The Croatian soldiers during the 30 years war to show their support of France, wore before King Louis Xlll, colorful “knotted neckerchiefs” around their necks which caught on with the French soldiers and began to be used to protect the soldiers ruffled shirts and buttons, and by the time of Louis XlV came to be king, these “neckties” became very popular with men in France wearing them in different fabrics and colors. It is said that the French word “cravat” for “tie” was a variation of the word “Croat” because the style was taken from the Croatians.
The cravat was considered the proper prototype of the modern day tie that we wear today, however a few hundred years later is when it started to turn into the long strip of cloth that we know now. After King Charles reclaimed the throne in England in 1660 the fashionable cravat made its way into English society, as the exiled aristocrats who followed him brought this new fashion craze from England to the English colonies, and became the fashion statement of the well dressed gentleman. Around the 18th century men wearing a cravat around the neck became the standard for all social classes.
Napoleon Bonaparte, who was in the habit of wearing all black, sported a white cravat at the battle of waterloo in honor of the duke of Wellington. This was also the time men started to refer the “cravat” as a “tie” as it is tied around the neck for the very first time.
The industrial revolution during the 18th and 19th century led to the modern tie, as the conservative knot was more practical on the factory floor and also this was around the time people started to wear ties to show their affiliations with different groups. A member of the Oxford university rowing club in 1880 created the very first “school tie” by removing the ribbons from his boaters hat and “four in hand” tied them around his neck and started the trend, and from there the idea caught on and developed into wearing ties to identify with various groups and clubs.
Also in the 1880’s saw the morning formal dress for men in the “ascot tie”, which became the standard as it was made famous by the fashionable King Edward Vll, who loved to wear it at the horse races, and all of Britain followed his lead. Thus it got its name from the famous horse racing event in England “The Royal Ascot” or “Bow Tie” usually worn with a pin in the middle.
A tie maker from New York “Jesse Langsdorf” started cutting the fabric of ties at a forty five degree angle, while utilizing a three piece construction, which allowed when tied in standard knots to drape evenly without twisting and giving us the modern look that we all wear today. No matter what size the knot, skinny or short, nor what fabric or color, the modern tie is still made in the basic “Langsdorf” design. Interestingly enough, Psychology relates the men’s tie as a “phallic symbol”.