The fascinating history of the neck tie

We now take the neck ties for granted as we can find them in any shop, any colour, thousands of designs and for every budget. You can even create your own neck tie in a 3D Tie Creator!

But, it wasn’t always like that.

The presence of the neck tie was first recorded in 210BC when the famous Terracotta army was build. Each statue wore a wrapped neck cloth, the earliest known predecessor of the modern tie. Historians believe that these neck ties might have been used here more or less as a badge of honour for Qin Shih Huang’s army.

During the middle ages, another example of the neck tie was worn in a military setting. In the early 1630s, during the Thirty Years War, Croatian soldiers in support of France were presented to the French King Louis XIII. The Croats wore colourful, knotted neckerchiefs as a part of their uniform which attracted their French partners who were accustomed to wearing starched, ruffled collars. Apart from its decorative purpose, the neck tie was more practical than these stiff collars and could protect the soldiers’ shirts and buttons. Some people even believe that “cravat”, the French word for “tie”, was even just a corruption of “Croat”, as the style was adopted from the Croatians.

The industrial revolution from the eighteenth to nineteenth century was the catalyst that led to the neck tie as we know it today. “White collar” workers of the day sought comfort and simplicity over previously excessively elaborate dress. Stiff, fancy, hard to tie neck ties had no place on the factory floor. Men tied their neckwear four-in-hand allowing for a knot at the throat with two ends of fabric trailing down. This method of tying was a much less intricate way of creating a knot than was necessary when wearing a cravat, and the knot remained secure. It remains a popular way of tying a tie to this day.

Around this time also, the idea of wearing a tie to show one’s affiliation developed. In 1880, the first school tie was fashioned when a member of Oxford University rowing club removed the ribbons from his boater hat and tied them four-in-hand. The trend caught on and ties for various affiliations developed.

In the 1880s, the ascot tie became the standard for formal morning dress. It was made a famous fashion item by Britain’s King Edward VII, also known as Bertie, who wore it to the horse races and his subjects followed. The name is derived from one of the most celebrated horse racing events in England, The Royal Ascot.

McDade’s over 60 years of experience in creating neck ties is a proof of appreciation for this amazing accessory.

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