Vintage & Fashion news, pretty vintage items and of course wee bit personal life style ramblings of an eleven year on line vintage clothing seller, avid fashion, antique and vintage lover

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Knot Bow or Bolo the History of Men's Neckties

Possibly not the most "comfortable" thing in the world to wear, but I don't know a woman who doesn't admire a man in a tie! Men always look so incredibly handsome wearing them. Personally, I even love the casual "Texas tuxedo" ~ a sport coat, jeans and a neck tie.

Who could imagine neck ties date back to 210 BC, when clothing itself was predominately animal skins or tunics of wool?

In 1974, neckties were actually discovered in the mausoleum of China's first emperor Shih Huang Ti. His tomb contained replica's of officers and soldiers with different armor, uniforms and details, yet all were wearing a necktie. The ties were a mystery, as they were not common to the wardrobe during those times according to historians.

The mystery of the origination of ties continues with marble columns, carved in 113AD in what is now Romania, depicting men wearing various neckties.

By 1660, ties were already fashionable in France, called Cravats and made mainly of muslin; they then became popular in England by royalty and were made of everything from cotton and ribbon to imported Italian laces. Both men and women wore fabrics around their necks, twisted the ends and tucked them into their shirts

Neckties then became a symbol of professionalism. From the 18th to the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought a need for ties to remain tied all day, and the bow tie, ascot and long tie evolved.

A book published in 1818, entitled "Neckclothitania" illustrated 14 different ways to tie a cravat, and today many of those knots are still popular, including the Windsor, Half Windsor and "four in the hand."

In the 20s the tie as we know it was patented by Jesse Landsdon, including the innovation of the tie fabric being cut at a 45 degree angle so it laid flat.

By the 40s, ties were wide and nick-named "belly warmers." They became a fashion statement and were available in fun patterns and colors

Ties were drastically narrower in 50s and became "skinny ties" to match the trend of skinny lapels, and were longer at 51". We'd be remiss in not mentioning the popularity of bow ties, made famous in movies with Humphrey Bogart and still worn today by Pee Wee Herman.

The 60s brought ties were that were again skinny and solid colors became popular, even longer at 54". By the late 60's, Ralph Lauren began designing ties as a fashion statement and brought back wider ties.

Not all neckties are fabric or knotted. The Bolo, a leather or string tie fastens with slide. The slide is usually decorative and most common in silver or turquoise, possibly from their origination in the west. The Bolo was named the official state tie of Arizona in 1971, and was made trendy among a younger crowd by Bruce Springsteen.

The 1977 movie "Annie Hall" featured Diane Keaton in the staring role ~ wearing a tie, vest and hat. Neckties immediately became fashionable for women, the movie actually starting a huge trend.

Soon everyone was designing ties. In the late 80s, Ralph Marlin designed conversational ties as well as his famous "fish ties" and other celebrities joined in. From talk show host Johnny Carson, actor Christopher Reeves, Regis Philbin and even rocker Jerry Garcia were designing their own unique line of ties.

The work place became more casual by the 1990's, with necktie requirements being virtually phased out in most offices. Today it is rare to see a man in a tie in most offices.

Not being required attire, There's just something special when you see a man in a necktie against a crisp shirt. It's even more fun when the tie reflects the personality. From his favorite sport to a movie star he admires to that favorite designer or color, there's a tie for all personalities.

Of course, women can enjoy them too.. as a tie under a trendy vest, as a belt with your jeans or worn as a cute head scarf!


  1. great article, Von!!

  2. Thanks so very much! I apologize for the length, I got totally absorbed and carried away. This is actually "condensed" lol.. so thank you! :D

  3. Oh I love seeing Bruce Springsteen in his neckties and black coat.