The Tie – A Brief History And Some Hot Tips
For about 100 years now, tradition has dictated that in order to be fully and properly dressed, a man must wear a long colourful silk ribbon around his neck, tied in a knot under his chin! So what it is it with ties? After all they don’t keep you warm. And they don’t hold your clothes together. In fact, ties don’t serve any real practical purpose at all. Yet there is perhaps no article of a man’s attire about which he can be so passionate about as his tie.
A tie has quite a bit of responsibility. It is one of the few expressions of creativity and personality allowed to men. It can convey the mood, emotion and elegance of the wearer. A choice of a tie may be the only way for a man to express his individuality and inner self.
A Brief History Of The Tie
The origin of neckwear dates back over 2200 years ago. The tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, discovered in 1974 in Xian, contained a terracotta army outfitted in what is the first known necktie. When he died in 210 BC, his terracotta “army” was buried with him as his “protectors” throughout eternity. Each statue wore a wrapped neck cloth, the earliest known predecessor of the modern tie.
The modern necktie though can be traced back to the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War in France. The French were inspired by the neckwear of the Croatian mercenaries’ hired by King Louis XIII. These mercenaries wore a piece of cloth around their neck as part of their uniform. While these cloth bands served to ward off the weather as well as sword slashes, they also had a decorative effect which King Louis was quite fond of. In fact, he liked it so much that he made these ties a mandatory accessory for Royal gatherings. Parisians quickly translated the Croats’ scarf into a new clothing accessory, and, voila!, the cravate was born.
The early cravats of the 17th century have little resemblance to today’s necktie, however toward the end of the nineteenth century, three varieties of neckwear branched out to form distinct styles of their own – the bow tie, the Ascot and the necktie.
The Tie Today
The tie as we know it today did not emerge until the 1920s, but since then has undergone many (often subtle) changes. As the administrative work force grew, laborers longed for a tie that was comfortable and easy to manipulate because early neckties were tricky to knot. In 1924, American tailor Jesse Langsdorf patented a new way of cutting fabric on a 45 degree angle and then sewing it in three segments to create the (aptly named) Langsdorf Necktie. It laid flat without getting twisted, and could spring back to its original shape after each wear, opening the door to even more knots.
In the late 1950s, ties got skinny, and in the 1970s they got fat—real fat. Nowadays, virtually anything goes. Self-expression is the new norm.
Some Hot Tie Tips
When sporting a tie, you are welcome practically anywhere. It’s like a Platinum Club card that you wear on the outside.
A tie allows you to pull together the contrasting elements of your wardrobe with a touch of texture or complementary color. Once you have learned to do it correctly, you’ll have dressing for success all tied up!
Your tie is the first thing that people will notice. Now while you do want a tie that looks great all on its own, it shouldn’t be a novelty piece. It’s meant to speak to the rest of your outfit, not stand apart from or clash with it.
A tie should anchor an outfit. Although they offer the perfect platform to express your personality, always reach for solid or subtly patterned ties. They ground a busy shirt like a plaid or a gingham, and they stand strong against a crisp white or pale pink. They’re fail-safe.
If patterns and colors confuse you, don’t sweat it. A solid dark tie with a white or light-color shirt is a can’t-miss combo.
It’s always best to err on the side of something more classic and give anything with a cartoon on it an extremely wide berth.
Give large polka dots a skip if you have a round face, and no skinny stripes for skinny-necked guys. Wide stripes and large patterns will be flattering for a man with a large face.
Tie bars, are another easy but very stylish way to add your own personal touch. To make sure that it’s not too high or too low, the simple rule is that it should be positioned between the third and fourth button of your shirt.
For a modern look, go for a tie that’s between 5 and 7 cm wide.
No matter your height, the tip of your tie should reach exactly to your beltline.
Match your ties to your suit fabrics – cotton ties with cotton suits in summer, wool ties with wool suits in winter.
The Four-In-Hand Knot
You really need to know only one knot—the four-in-hand. It’s neither too big nor too small nor too perfectly triangular. It’s natural and elegant, and it works with every collar, from a spread to a point. Learn it, never forget it, always use it.
Dress For Success
As we discussed previously, the way you dress plays a significant role in your success. And remember, your tie is the first thing that people will notice, so do get it right and you’ll have dressing for success all tied up!