By Ashley Frost
Maybe it’s because I’m single, but I’ve recently become obsessed with men’s fashion. With Paris Fashion Week currently going on it is not women’s fashion I am fawning over, but men’s. I’ve always loved a well-dressed man, and neckties are the pieces that, literally, tie an outfit together. Neckties are an iconic part of menswear with a rich and fascinating history, can you think of any other fashion item which does not serve a functional purpose that has been around for centuries?
In the mid-1600s Croatian officers were presented to the French royal court, these officers wore scarfs around their necks as part of their uniforms. This look was immediately adopted by French high society who called it “la cravate”. In 1784 Beau Brummel created the three piece suit, including the necktie as the focal point. Brummel is said to be the first person to start using neckties for expression of individuality. In the mid-1800s the word tie replaced cravat and ties started being mass produced.
The first designer tie was created in the 1920s by French designers; they started making ties from nicer fabrics such as silk with various designs on them. Throughout the rest of the 20th century neckties went through various trend cycles. In the 1940s they started growing thicker, and then the trend switched to thinner ties in the 1950s. Due to men’s trousers moving lower on the hips and vests becoming less popular, ties have become much longer.
In the late 1800s and start of the 1900s bowties were primarily worn by intellectuals. Men who were architects, professors or attorneys were frequent wearers of the chic bowtie. Bowtie wearers began to be thought of as snobby. Today the bowtie is worn mainly at formal events. Clowns and comedians such as Pee-wee Herman have helped the bowtie loose its snobby stigma. Historians are unclear whether the bowtie led to the necktie or vice versa, but as long as handsome men are still wearing both I could care less which one came first.
Neckties are not a fashion item that can be only worn by men. Thanks to fabulous trendsetters like Diane Keaton ties are a trendy part of today’s women’s fashion. In fact during New York Fashion Week several female collections included ascots and bows. If you want to use a necktie in a little less chic way, try wearing it loose over a white button down or V-neck. Think Avril Lavigne, early Brittany Spears and Jennifer Aniston… but with clothes on.
Public figures such as Winston Churchill, Carey Grant, Frank Sinatra and many other dashing men have helped neckties withstand the test of time. Alber Elbaz, Gucci, Brooks Brothers, and Karl Lagerfeld are just a few designers continuing the legacy of the necktie. These designers emphasize ties with quality and functionality while remaining stylish. The necktie is my favorite part of men’s wear and I sincerely hope it never goes out of style.
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Top left picture.
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