How to Wear a Tie

The tie or necktie has been worn by men ever since the Roman Empire, maybe even before that. It wasn’t the tie we know and wear today, but something similar, like a scarf tied around the neck and it was an emblem of belonging to a certain group. So the tie has always been a symbol of social status and, later on, an accessory to complete an outfit. The modern necktie was actually taken up by Parisians when they saw the neckerchiefs worn by the Croatian soldiers in the Thirty Years’ War. Because of the different way Croats called themselves in Croatian (Hrvati) and the way the French called them (Croates), the cloth gained the name “cravat”. This new fashion rapidly gained notoriety amongst men and women alike. There were and still are numerous styles on how to wear a tie. In the seventeenth century, men wore lace cravats that consumed a lot of time and effort to adjust.

One of the first times when men wore their neckties similarly to how we see them today was in the Battle of Steenkerque. The princes, rushing to the battleground, rapidly wound scarves around their necks, twisting the ends and passing them through a buttonhole. Later on, in the eighteenth century, different ways on how to wear a tie surfaced, like the ”stock”, a small piece of muslin folded narrowly and wound around the shirt collar several times, then secured at the back with a pin. These cravats were worn when men’s fashion dictated they have longer hair, which they tucked into a silk bag, usually black. This was called the bag-wig hairstyle, and it gave rise to another variation, called the solitaire, which entailed that the bag was embellished with ribbons that matched the stock. The stock itself was now tied in the front, in a large bow. Towards the end of this century more and more men were interested on how to wear a tie properly, so publications with advice started springing up. One of the most famous was the Necklclothitania, a booklet that numbered up to 14 different ways to tie a tie, each with revealing illustrations.

It was about this time that the black stock emerged, totally eclipsing the previous white one, which remained in style for formal wear only. Closer to the nineteenth century, with the industrial revolution, a new cravat was designed, one that was easy to wear and arrange and that would last in place for the entire day. It was longer, thinner and easy to knot – it was the modern necktie that millions of men still wear today. The knot they used to use for it has become known as the “four in hand” and is still the most popular way to tie a necktie.