In case you ever wondered why men wear ties around their neck, then here is the answer. Find out the entire history of ties, bowties, the ascot, as well as the history of silk.
If the word “tie” is defined as a piece of clothing accessory that is worn around the neck, then the history of this piece of clothing will date back to the early days of weaving and spinning because scarves have been used for thousands of years to help protect against the cold. When thinking of a tie that is purely decorative rather than functional then the early roots are found in the 17th century in France. During the 30 years war (1618-1648) Croatian mercenaries came to France to support King Louis XIII. The Croats used a piece of cloth to tie the top of their uniforms. King Louis found liking in this type of scarf and adopted it as a mandatory clothing accessory for Royal gatherings after the war was over. To honor the Croats he gave it the name “La Cravate” – a name still used in France today.
These early cravats were purely decorative pieces of cloth that were made from finest and most elaborately decorated fabrics. The looks of these early ties resemble more bowties rather than a modern necktie. The necktie as we know it today is much younger in age and dates back to the late 19th century - after the Four-in-Hand necktie knot had been invented (to learn more about this type of knot please visit our guide on How to Tie a Necktie). It is said that this modern necktie knot was invented by British horsemen who used this knot to tie a scarf around their neck while holding the reigns of four horses in the other.
Several types of decorative pieces of mens neckwear originated during this time-period such as the bowtie and the ascot. The modern necktie derived from the ascot and became popular around the 1920s. Since then neckties have been worn by men, and although the width of ties has changed depending on current fashion trends, ties are still worn the same way.
The ascot tie is the forefather of the modern necktie. It is a type of tie that looks like a cross between modern necktie and a silk scarf. Unlike a modern necktie, both ends of the tie have the same width. The tie is also tied much looser than a modern necktie, and the knot is typically secured with a decorative pin. To learn this type of knot please visit our guide on How to Tie an Ascot.
The ascot originated during the later part of the 19th century in Britain. It is named after the exclusive horserace “The Royal Ascot” - an event at which men were required to wear this type of tie in combination with a tailcoat jacket (also known as morning coat). Today ascots are rarely worn but still spotted at very formal events and formal weddings.
The Bolo is a completely different type of neckwear that is mostly associated with Western/ Cowboy wear. The bolo is typically found in Texas or Arizona. It is made of braded pieces of leather that are fastened around the neck with a decorative clasp.
The bolo tie has its roots in the mid 19th century in Arizona. It was invented by silversmith Victor Cedarstaff in the early 1940s. According to the story Mr. Cedarstaff was riding his horse. He got frustrated that the wind kept blowing off his cowboy hat, and worried that he may lose the expensive silver band which decorated his hat, he decided to take it off and wear it around his neck. He liked the look and started making such type of necklaces which shortly after became known as the “bolo tie”.
Over the next few decades the bolo tie gained much popularity, and in 1971 was made the official neckwear for the state of Arizona. Then, in 2007 New Mexico followed suit making the bolo also their official neckwear.