Whether it is wide or narrow, silk or polyester, striped or solid, there’s no article of men’s clothing quite like a tie. Ties come in all styles, shapes, and designs. Some people prefer bowties, others take pride in their ability to tie their neckties in half- or full-Windsor knots. Schools, clubs, and corporations have their own ties, and even the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia designed ties for his tie-dyed followers.

Ties weren’t always a staple of menswear. The forerunner of the tie was the cravat, a frilly neckband that was popular in Croatia in the early 17th century. When the Croatians encountered the French while fighting on their behalf in the Thirty Years’ War, the French took a liking to the cravat, and it soon became a favorite of King Louis XIV. From the cravat came the bandana in 18th-century America, but still neckties were nowhere to be found.

Ties as we know them today did not gain widespread acceptance until the late 19th century. During the Industrial Revolution, ties became a symbol for British gentry—later they were embraced as neckwear for white-collar workers. Students at Oxford and Exeter, as well as Ivy League schools in the United States, made special ties and jackets for their exclusive communities.

The late 19th century also saw the appearance of the Windsor knot, sometime called the double or full Windsor (as opposed to the half Windsor), which was devised for King Edward VII, who preferred a wide knot on his tie.

Tying a Windsor knot became a right of passage for many young men. They learned that the best way to do it was to drape the tie around the neck so that the wide side of the tie was longer than the narrow side. After crossing the wide piece in front of the narrow section of the tie, they’d pull it down and wrap it behind the narrow end and through the middle of the two.

From there, they’d pull the wide end around the back of the burgeoning knot and over the front of the narrow end. Finally, they would pull the wide end around the front of the knot, and then pull the end up through the back of the knot and tuck it through the front loop. The length of the tie could then be adjusted by pulling on the shorter end.

In 1924, American tailor Jesse Langsdorf invented what would be considered the modern tie, which features a three-segment bias cut. These ties were worn shorter than they are tod...

Over the years, different types of ties have had their moments. In the early 1930s, a red tie was deemed by some to be a symbol of homosexuality, which may have been derived from the attire of a character in William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.” In the ’40s and ’50s, skinny ties had their day—bootlace ties were popular with Teddy Boys in London. In the ’60s, wider, Kipper ties seemed to match the hippie flamboyance of that decade. Later, narrow ties became popular again with kids in the punk-rock scene. Meanwhile, out West, bolo ties resembling a belt buckle with strings never went out of style.

Throughout, manufacturers dabbled with different patterns such as stripes, solids, plaids, and even logos for designers from Ralph Lauren to Yves Saint Laurent. Companies also experimented with materials such as polyester and wool, though silk remains king.

When it comes to bowties, there are various styles, though not too much has changed since the 1870s. There are batwing ties, pointed-end ties, and both modern and classic versions of Butterfly ties. These last two are the most common bowties, and they derive their name from the 1904 Puccini opera, “Madame Butterfly.” Bowties achieved their height of popularity in the 1930s and 1940s when Winston Churchill consistently wore one.

Today, most men reserve bowties for the most formal of occasions (so-called “black-tie” functions), but they have also become a means for satire and personal expression thanks to apparel companies like Vineyard Vines and J. Crew, which produce colorful bowties designed to be worn casually. And if you can’t knot your own, there are always clip-ons.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Black Tie Guide

The Black Tie Guide

Peter Marshall became an authority on formalwear out of necessity — he needed a tux to wear on the maiden transat… [read review or visit site]

Ventagli.org

Ventagli.org

Anna Checcoli's homage to the beauty and art of hand fans ('ventagli,' in Italian). Use the left-hand nav to browse… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Antiquespectacles.com

Antiquespectacles.com

Dr. David Fleishman's comprehensive spectacles site (over 3500 images), in collaboration with museums around the wo… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Lot X 4 Trad Ivy Vintage Ribbed Twill Regimental Repp Stripe Skinny Silk Bow TieVintage 1984 Jim Henson Official Kermit The Frog Muppets Emblematic Navy Tie WowVintage Salvador Dali Necktie - 40s/50s - The Swan's PalaceLot Of 11 Vintage Bow Ties Silk, Mixed Patterns, Self Tie 1950s-1960sVintage 100% Silk Tie 60/70's From Dartmouth College With Indian Head LogoVintage Peter Max Men's TieMens Ties Vintage Lot Of Unique TiesEmilio Pucci For Saks Fifth Avenue Vintage Silk Tie NecktieVtg Hermes1 Necktie Tie No. 5616 Ma Silk Soie Luxury France Cloud Umbrellas RainJ.garcia Silk Tie Lot 6x- 100% Silk Limited Ed Grateful Dead Phish Jerry Vtg 90sHermes Hermès Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | 884 Pa | Equestrian Stirrup Bit MotifsVintage Brook Bros. Men Self Tieing Butterfly End Silk Bow TieAuth Vintage Chanel 100% Silk Men Necktie Vintage Brook Bros. Men Self Tieing Butterfly End Silk Bow TieVintage 1940s Abstract Geometric Bold Look Swing Tie Men's Necktie Art DecoVintage 1986 Ralph Marlin Fish Tie Walleye Fishermans The Catch Of A Decade NrVintage 1950s Creveling Of California Blue Leaves Men's Necktie Swing Tie 1940sRare Vintage Memphis Milano Post Modern Satin Silk Tie By Iosa Ghini Vtg Leonard Paris Silk Tie Rings Floral Bird Dramatic Print On Black 68416Vtg Hermes1 Blue Necktie Tie No. 820 Ea Silk Soie Luxury FranceVintage Sharp Burberry Floral Gunmetal Necktie Hand Sewn In UsaVintage Liberty [ Of London ] Men's Tie 100% Cotton Made In England Vintage Ralph Marlin Nfl Arizona Cardinals Football Authentic Tie ~new~Vtg Hermes1 Necktie Tie No. 5469 Fa Silk Soie Luxury France H60s Vintage Backstock Nwot Wembley Tie Ratpack Blue Eames Square End W2 L56 RareVintage New Designer Tachi Taylor Silk Self Tie Bow Tie - Red W Blue DashesVintage Gucci Made In Italy Men's 100% Seta Silk Neck Tie Free Usa Ship #6 NwtVintage New Designer Tachi Taylor Silk Self Tie Bow Tie - Blue W Silver Red Vintage 1960s Duck Hunter Camo Camouflage Mens Necktie Army Tie Workwear HuntingVintage 1940s Van Heusen Van Cruise Figural Knight Rabbit Mens Necktie Swing TieMemphis Milano Silk Necktie Vintage Abstract Design Set Of 2Vtg Hermes Tie Twill Silk Chain Link Design Pattern Red Dress Necktie 59 EaCountess Mara New York Vintage Necktie Lot Of 6 Used.Two Vintage Gucci TiesVtg Hermes1 Blue Necktie Tie No. 7350 Pa Silk Soie Luxury FranceVtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Checks Baroque Silk Italy Luxury Groom GvVtg Hermes1 Blue Necktie Tie No. 5101 Ha Silk Soie Luxury FranceBritish Association Of Barbershop Singers Tie Company 1970s1980s Club Vintage ~~ormond Nyc, Best Clip, Handy, Lot Of 8 Vintage Clip-on Bow Ties~~Lot Of 10 Vintage 1970s Mens Ties Silk Poly And Others #4 LookVintage 1950's Hand Painted Wembley Tie With Black Cocker Spaniel Nos Novelty9 Vintage Skinny 2" Wide Rat Pack Ties 50s 60s Necktie Lot Hudsons Harry SolomonVintage New Designer Tachi Taylor Silk Self Tie Bow Tie - Olive GeometricVintage New Designer Tachi Taylor Silk Self Tie Bow Tie - Multicolor TrianglesVintage 50's, 60's Rooster Skinny, Flat Bottom Tie W/ Lobsters And Buoys - Euc Vtg Brooks Brothers Makers & Merchants Notre Dame Tie. Nd. Navy & Green. Rare!Turnbull & Asser Vintage Men's Silk Tie -polka Dots Vintage 1940's 1950's Art Deco Swing Tie Vintage 1940's 1950's Swing Men's Tie Vintage Lochcarron Neck Tie Pringle Made In Scotland 100% Pure Wool Blue PlaidA Lot Of 20 100% Silk Ties Designer Names, Some Vintage All Classic Vintage Red Paisley Silk Mens Neck Tie Langley's West Hartford Waterbury CtNice Lot Vintage Gentleman's Bow Ties X 4 - Various Colours.black White MaroonGianni Versace Silk Tie Vintage Rare!Vintage 1940's 1950's Rare 'architectural Parade' Dale NecktieVintage Gene Meyer Made In Japan Color Block Signature Rainbow Stripe Silk TieGianni Versace Couture Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | Baroque Floral | New With TagVintage Burberry Nova Check Silk TieVintage Gianni Versace Purple Tie With Medusa HeadVintage Hermes Tie.