History of the Necktie
Though it has bore witness to a significant drop in popularity in recent years, the necktie still remains a pivotal organ of our culture and wardrobe. Neckties have legendary origins dating back to the 1600s, evolving over four centuries to the icon of today, cementing its place in fashion history.
According to education expert Phil Beadle and his 2009 article with The Guardian, neckties were birthed in the smoke and fire of seventeenth century battlefields amidst the Thirty Years’ War. Croatian soldiers were commissioned to march, fight, and kill under French banners. But the Croatians, the fashion savvy people that we all know and love, differed from their baguette-eating counterparts in one particular way: their uniforms. As documented by Stephen Henderson in his 2005 article with The Sun, the Croatians comfortably draped cloth about their necks, standing out in clear contrast to the stiff, starched collars of the French. Louis XIII admired their style and declared it part of the proper dress code of his court, christening this new accessory “la cravate.” But modern neckties have wandered far from the ancient cravates.
Though its function remains mostly the same, a necktie’s appearance has had ample time to evolve and mutate over the past four hundred years. Even the past century has seen remarkable development. In her 2010 article with the Chicago Tribune, Sandra M. Jones notes that cravates remained fairly popular in the early 1900s. But Jones further chronicles a true hero and founding father of the contemporary necktie: tailor and inventor Jesse Langsdorf. In 1924, Langsdorf tailored a new, standardized design closely resembling the tie of today. Langsdorf’s patent secured a foothold in everyday dress, persevering through the 1930s with the Great Depression and appearing in military uniforms of the 1940s with World War II. Neckties saw a widespread (or should I say atomic) boom following the Second World War and throughout the mid 1900s. However, Jones goes on to note a steep decline in daily tie usage as Silicon Valley ushered in the dot-com bubble. Since then, neckties’ prevalence have remained mostly stagnant, confined to few formal occupations and left to wither and die in terms of the daily wardrobe.
Modern neckties, originating in the seventeenth century battlefields and courts of France, have made remarkable progress and development over the past couple centuries from Jesse Langsdorf in the 1920s to the Macy’s down the street. So even though it is widely regarded as an overelaborate noose, nothing can replace the necktie’s place in our cultural history and our wardrobe.