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]



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]



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    

Vintage Southern Railway Railroad Lantern Neck Tie Advertising Gold UnwornHermes Vintage Ascot Scarf Echarpe Seta Soie Silk Hermes Vintage Ascot Scarf Echarpe Seta Soie Silk Hermes Vintage Ascot Scarf Echarpe Seta Soie Silk Hermes Vintage Ascot Scarf Echarpe Seta Soie Silk Vintage 1940s Mens Neck Ties/cravats In Silk, Acetate & Acrylic. Lot Of 8 TiesErmenegildo Zegna Antique Gold Grenadine Boucle Effect Star Grid Woven Silk Tie 1940s Modernist Neck Tie/vtg 48" Rockabilly Geometeric The Schudson Store RegalGianni Versace Couture Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | Baroque MotifsNo Reserve Lot Of 5 Vtg Brooks Brothers Striped Men's Neck Ties Skinny Tie #l2Six 50's And 60's Vintage Mad Men Men's Ties Oleg Casini And Others3 Nicole Miller Tie Men's Neckties VintageVintage 1930’s Style Rrl Ralph Lauren Brown Silk Necktie W/ Scissors! Vintage Lilly Pulitzer Mens Tie Lime/pinkSuper Wide Tie Lot 50s Sailboat Psycho Floral Hand Painted Chinchilla Silk Vtg No Reserve Lot Of 5 Vtg Brooks Brothers Rare Men's Neck Ties Skinny Tie #l2Vintage 90's Nightmare Before Christmas Men 100% Silk Tie BrownsAuth Vintage Leonard Paris Silk Tie Dessin N°158 Flowers & Ladybugs On NavyMen's Tie Necktie Vtg 54 Inch Length 3 Wide Beau Brummell MaroonLot Of 10 Vintage Wembley Neck Ties Assortment Of Colors Never Worn. NewHermes Hermès Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | 372 Ea No Reserve Lot Of 5 Vtg Brooks Brothers Striped Men's Neck Ties Skinny Tie #lLot X2 Vintage Vitaliano Pancaldi Italy Silk Pocket Square Tie Emerald Swirl #25Vintage Hermes Made In France Brown Fishscale Dagger Foulard Silk Tie 499 Ia NrGianfranco Ferre Inky Black Woven Antique Gold Texture Block Stripe Silk Tie NrBrioni Vintage Hand-made Jacquard-weave Silk Tie Necktie | Gianni Versace Vintage Jacquard-weave Silk Tie Necktie | Medusa MotifVintage Multi-color Black Tie Oleg Cassini3 Vintage Adjustable Men's Bow Ties English Repp Silk, ResilioVintage Lochcarron Made In Scotland Harris Tweed Fringe Tartan Stripe Wool Tie Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren Pony Logo Black Mens Silk Neck Tie Hand Made 56.5" T24Vintage Rooster Hand Printed Symnetrical Damask Wool Paisley Square Tip Tie WowChristian Dior Necktie Vintage TieRare Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren 1990s Sportsman Tennis Player Graphic Silk Tie NrNwot Luciano Barbera Antique Gold Woven Satin Diamond Scatter Silk Tie Italy A1pVintage Wool Tie - Kerr Clan - Hand Woven By Madawaska Weavers - Nova Scotia5 Vintage Men's Clip On Bow TiesGianni Versace Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | South Beach Miami Palm Tree MotifsVintage Mcdonald's [ Collection ] Men's Tie 100% Silk Made In Usa 1960s Vintage Mens Necktie Tie Pocket Square Socks Suit Set Wedding Gift Mod NosVintage The Three Stooges Tie Ralph Marlin 1995 Christmas Movie Colorful AttireVintage F-14 Tomcat Ralph Marlin Necktie Tie - Made In Usa -11-Disney Vintage Tie Mickey 100% Silk Made In KoreaPolo Equestrian Ralph Lauren Hand Made Tie Msrp $45 Neckwear Vintage Necktie No Reserve Lot Of 5 Vtg Brooks Brothers Rare Men's Neck Ties Skinny Tie #l36 Assorted Mens Neck Ties ~ Vintage And Modern ~ Silk Cotton WoolVintage Silk Red Green Paisley Print Evening ClutchPolo By Ralph Lauren Neck Tie....striped...never Tied...made In U.s.aVintage Givenchy Gentlemen Paris Men's Silk Stripe Tie Free Shipping Usa & CanVintage Giorgio Armani Cravatte Red/gray/cream Squigglely Neck Tie Made In ItalyLot Of 22 Vintage Wide TiesLot Of 13 Vintage Thin Skinny Ties NecktiesVintage Leonard Paris Floral Beige Silk Necktie TieVtg 90's Coca-cola Silk Christmas Polar Bears Neck Tie Blue Handmade 4" EucEnduro Vtg Cravat Bow Tie Polka Dot White On NavyWembley Vintage Endangered Species Seals Killer Whale U.s.a. 100% Imported SilkWembley Vintage 100% Imported Silk Tie Dolphins U.s.a.Vintage Pierre Cardin Paris New York Monogrammed Men's Neck Tie Brown Vintage 1958 Snoopy Necktie *whimsical* Peanuts Charlie Brown Tie Red Funny WinNew Vintage Wedding Cotton Pre-tied Bowtie. Peach/blush/pink. Great Reviews. Uk.