Ever stare into the mirror tying a necktie and wondering who came up with the rather peculiar idea of wearing a strip of cloth around your neck? Today, I discovered its history started with Roman soldiers. But the modern necktie can be traced to the 1600s when Croatian mercenaries in French service were seen wearing knotted neckerchiefs in Paris. Which is when the term cravat was coined.
In 1646 the boy-king Louis XIV began wearing a lace cravat, when he was seven, setting the fashion for French nobility and creating a fashion craze throughout Europe. Both men and women began wearing pieces of fabric around their necks.
In 1710 stocks appeared—a piece of fabric folded into a band and wound around the shirt collar then pinned in the back. At the time men wore their hair past shoulder length and tucked the ends into a small black silk bag worn at the nape of the neck. Ribbons attached to the little bag were brought around the stock and tied in a large bow at the throat.
In the late 18th century, cravats reappeared, when young Englishmen called macaronis (as in the song "Yankee Doodle") returned from Europe with ideas about Italian fashion. It is also when it became popular to wear a scarf held in place with a ring—the forerunner of today's bolo tie.
The necktie as we know it came to be during the industrial revolution when people wanted something easier to put on and more comfortable. A variation on the simpler tie was the ascot. They were considered proper dress for male guests at formal dinners and for spectators at horse races.
It was an American, Jesse Langsdorf, who in 1926 came up with a method for cutting fabric on the bias and sewing ties in 3 segments. Since then millions of men around the world have worn the "Langsdorf" tie.
The earliest versions of today's knit ties, date from the 1920s. Mostly worn by working classes or poor college students after the stock market crash. They were long and skinny with a square tip and frequently hand made.
Finally, to my surprise there is an International Necktie Day, celebrated on October 18 in Dublin, Como, Tokyo, Sydney and other cities around the world. It seems to me that Father's Day almost doubles as that holiday in the United States. If so, Happy Father's Tie Day.