The manner in which neckties evolved with the passage of time reveals a lot about how men’s fashion evolved as a whole. Although the concept of wearing a necktie could be traced back to ancient times, the modern necktie’s conception began when mercenaries of the Croatian Military Frontier started wearing them as part of their uniform while in service of the French crown during the Thirty Years’ War (mid-17th century).
They looked like simple pieces of cloth that have colors which did well to highlight the bright colors of their wearers’ uniforms. Even so, it actually served a practical purpose, which is to keep the upper portion of their jacket fastened, unlike today’s neckties which are pretty much worn for aesthetic purposes only. Such was its popularity that it eventually became a fashion preference in many parties and gatherings, where it was called La Cravate (or cravat).
From there, the cravat pretty much underwent robust changes (guides were even made on the many ways that you can tie a cravat, very similar to today’s plethora of necktie knot styles). It wasn’t until the mid-19th century when people began calling them neckties or ties instead. From that point on, it began to enjoy mass use, particularly in most Western countries. The four-in-hand necktie was worn by most men in Great Britain. Besides serving as a symbol of self-expression, it also became an emblem for various clubs and organizations.
In the beginning of the 20th century, designer ties as well as the so-called Macclesfield tie became widely-used. The former prioritized art more, though, while the latter served to emphasize one’s social status in America during the Roaring Twenties. Both are made of costly materials. The year 1936 is a pivotal one in the history of the necktie as it’s during this time when the Windsor knot was invented. This knot’s longevity (even now, it’s still the most popular and preferred necktie knot in the workplace and formal events) is a testament of how appealing its overall look is. Even its variation, the half-Windsor is equally favored.
Since then, necktie trends came and went, from Elvis’s kipper to the bolo tie and skinny leather ties, which eventually lead up to the introduction of the ABC necktie. At present, most men prefer wearing noticeably wider ties, with numerous eye-catching color patterns. Most designs are generic, featuring patterns such as stripes or polka dots as well as solid colors.
How to Tell the Difference between Each Type of Knot
Classifications of the modern necktie are not so much based on its connection with its predecessors (cravat, skinny tie, etc.) as its current styles or knots. The most popular knots are the four-in-hand knot (aptly also known as the simple knot because of the relative ease that you can do it), the Windsor, and the half-Windsor.
To the untrained eye, it could be hard to discern the differences between most knots. After all, the finished look of, for instance, the half-Windsor, Windsor and the Pratt knot are seemingly identical. Well, besides the apparent difference in their tying methods, most necktie knots are set apart by three main factors, namely: their shape, size, and symmetry. And, upon closer inspection of each knot, these aren’t hard to gauge.
Know that the type of necktie that you have could also dictate the knots that you can only do on it. For instance, if your tie is evidently thin, then it’s better to go for a knot like the four-in-hand. Additionally, if you’ve been wondering what the difference between the half-Windsor and Windsor is, the former is simply smaller than the latter. And, because of the near-perfect shape and symmetry of their triangles, they are always favored over the Balthus or Pratt knots.
Recent knots that are gaining popularity are the Elderidge and Trinity knots; however, they are considerably difficult to pull off. With that said, you can only ever expect more necktie knot innovations to come in the future. Most sartorialists and fashion experts have also been saying that neckties as part of men’s fashion isn’t ever likely to go the way of the dodo, at least, any time soon.