Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Troy's Tuesday Tie Trivia # 1 -- Necktie Trivia

Welcome to the Troys Tuesday Tie Trivia.

This feature was inspired by a great deal I got at a local thrift market on a whole bunch of unusual ties:

Each week I want to highlight one of my ties, and explore some related trivia.

I thought I'd start with a general highlight of the whole bunch, and explore Necktie Trivia in general.

Nobody knows the true origin of the necktie. As with all things unknown, theories abound, and they are as widely varied as necktie patterns themselves.

Among the various theories of necktie ancestry are:

A band of cloth that was worn around the neck to prevent the collar of the underlying garment from becoming excessively soiled. In the "pre-laundry-facility" days, a strip of cloth could be rinsed, or discarded much more easily than a tunic or blouse could be washed.

A wide swatch of fabric worn at meal times, as a sort of bib, again, to prevent the soiling of the front of the shirt. Or, conversely a swatch worn on formal occasions to hide the soiling and stains from mealtimes.

A symbol of class, rank or station. Often a military symbol used to designate or differentiate between armies, or assignment therein.

Since there is no way of knowing which one is correct, the necktie wearer of today is left to choose whichever one suits their own fancy, or make up a new one of their own devise. In fact, I challenge each person who reads this post to leave a comment, detailing a possible origin, serious or fanciful.

There are a few things that we do know though.

Art from ancient Egypt, China, and the Roman Empire show men wearing some type of cloth around their necks.

Neckties, in the form of cravats became popular in Europe in the 17th century, following the example of Croation soldiers who wore matching cloths around their necks as a part of their uniform, or livery. (In fact, the word “cravat” stems from the word “Croatia”.

Cravats were often lacy ruffles that started at the throat and cascaded down the shirtfront. Tying a cravat was complicated, so the wearing of such an item was reserved mainly for the more affluent.

Balzac introduce neckties to literature for the first time in 1827 when he wrote: The Art To Bear a Necktie.

In 1924, Jesse Langsdorf, a Tailor from New York, developed a method for cutting Ties on a Bias. His pattern was patented and is the basis for today’s ties. Up until that time ties had been cut straight across the fabric, and had difficulty keeping their shape.

Cutting ties on a bias allowed for diagonal stripes. The stripes on British ties were colored to indicate the wearers Regiment, thus the term Regimental Stripes. Regimental striped ties had the stripes running from the left shoulder down to the right. Traditionally, diagonal striped ties ran in that direction, however, Brooks Brothers, when they started selling striped ties, chose to break tradition and cut their ties with the stripe running the opposite way.

Tie widths have varied over the years from the skinny 1 ½” wide ties of the sixties, to the flamboyant 5” wide ties of the post WWII era and again in the 70’s.

Lengths have varied as well, as men’s fashion changed. When men wore their pants higher, ties were shorter, when vests were fashionable, tie lengths were short, so as not to extend beyond the bottom of the vest.

Novelty ties, with cartoon characters, food, or other printed designs made their debut in the early 1990's.

Tying a bowtie properly is an art, so bowties are often worn by those who wish to set themselves aside intellectually, or economically, from the “commoner” who cannot master the technique.

Bolo ties, consisting of a cord, or string, joined at the throat by a slide fastener, have appeared everywhere from the plains of Argentina, to the American Southwest, to the stage at Bon Jovi Concerts. Like traditional neckties, nobody is really sure where they originated, but like bowties, they are often worn by those who want to express their individualism. I myself have several in my personal collection.

Tie fabrics, designs, patterns and styles varied from decade to decade throughout the 20th century. The beginning decade of the 21st century showed a mishmash of those decades, almost an “Anything Goes” philosophy.
There are several possible explanations for this, among them:

There was a big “retro” movement early in the 21st century, (in the decade I call “The Zeros”) Retro means different things to different people, so for a large group of people to celebrate a retro culture would necessarily entail a widely varied set of fashion looks.

This was also a decade of upheaval, economically, politically and culturally, and each generation was scrambling to find their own identity and their own security. This led to an eclectic world of fashion.

Freeganism, Thrifting, and Recycling , all big elements of the decade, led to a new attitude where many people, by either necessity, or to make a statement, chose to look to the back of their closets, before buying a new item.

Whatever the reason, current trends show traditional conservative ties for formal occasions, and anything goes for most other occasions.

Personally, that’s a trend I can live with.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting reads! There are many things that can be created out of unusual neckties - quilts are one of them! You have some very strange looking ties pictured - love it!