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”)



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]

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]

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 Brooks Brothers Made England Ancient Madder Brick Medallion Silk Tie NrVintage Gianni Versace Royal Purple Gold Barocco Jacquard Barocco Silk Tie NrVintage 1930s Palm Beach Cloth Goodall Worsted Beau Brummell Necktie TieVintage Brooks Brothers Made England Ancient Madder Twill Red Medallion Silk TieVintage 1930s 1940s Hollyvogue Stirrup Men's Western Cowboy Necktie TieVintage Foulard Twill 100% Silk Navy Blue White Polka Dot Spotted Bow Tie DandyVintage 1910s Selvedge Four In Hand Necktie Tie Violet Floral Brocade 1900sVintage Hermes Made In France Blue Emerald Green Chain D'ancre Silk Tie 623 SaVintage Dolce & Gabbana Jacquard Peekaboo Pinup Girl Rainbow Stripe Silk Tie NrVintage 1930s Copper Electric Screened Zigzag Men's Necktie Tie Art DecoVintage 1920s Selvedge Spiderweb Brocade Polka Dot Men's Necktie TieGot My Attention Paul Stuart Vintage Wool Challis Blue On Magenta Polka Dot TieBijan Vintage Jacquard-weave Tie Necktie Vintage Nos 1950s Palm Beach Cloth Goodall Sanford Beau Brummell Necktie TieBrooks Brothers Hand Made Usa Wool Challis Buff Antique Gold Geometric Tie NrVintage 1950s Tie Rack Hereford Bull Western Ranch Decor Cap Hat Necktie HangerVintage Men's Ivory Western Clip On Square Dance Bow Tie With Dancers ArtVtg Charvet Deep Navy Blue Twill White Geometric Box Medallion Print Tie NrVintage 1950s Palm Beach Cloth Beau Brummell Necktie Tie Yellow Floral 4 FoldVintage Mens Bow Ties Hand Tie Adjustable Silk Lot Of 5 1930'sKeep Quiet Paul Stuart Vintage Pink On Blue Micro Pin Dot Polka Silk Tie Trad IvVintage 1930s Green Abstract Lines Striped Men's Necktie TieGianni Versace Vintage Jacquard-weave Silk Tie Necktie | Baroque Medusa PatternVintage Bow Tie Necktie Lot Of 11 Adjustable Vtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Baroque Tribal Silk Italy Luxury Groom GvVintage Handpainted Necktie The Hunt 1940s Western Horses Deer Dogs Auth Vintage Leonard Paris Silk Tie Dessin N°67841 Flowers On Black BackgroundHermes Hermès Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | 966 Sa | Nautical Lines Knots MotifFornasetti Neck Tie Vintage RareHermes Tie - Vintage And Beautiful Lot Of 22 Vintage Silk Specialty Ties Nicole Miller (+square), Disney Boston MfaVintage 1940s Chief Hand Loomed By Indians Screened Gamebird Necktie Tie WesternVtg Hermes Paris Rare Orange Silk Cummerbund Belt Bow Tie Set Made In France VgcVintage Old West Cowboy Scarf Lot Of 7 Mens Neck Tie 44" Long Western Tribal Vintage Burberry Nova Plaid Nova Check Neck TieVtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Troupe Scroll Silk Italy Luxury Groom GvVintage Brooks Brothers Red Neat Blue Florets Untipped Printed Business Silk TieMint Chanel 100% Silk Red Black Diamond Geometric Tie Made Italy Vintage SkinnyMen's Knit Tie Denver Broncos Vintage Orange & BlueVintage Tuxedo Bow Ties Ascots Vtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Checks Jarquard Silk Italy Luxury Best GvVtg Gianni Versac Necktie Tie Medusa Jarquard Silk Italy Luxury Cool Smart GroomMack Truck, Logo Bulldog Neck Tie ,rare Purple With The Dog Vintage Emilio Pucci Necktie Abstract Pattern On Multi Color Silk Men's Tie Men's Vintage Clip-on Bow Ties Ever-grip Ormond Beau Royal Clips Lot Of 10Burberry Classic Vintage Red Paisley Silk Tie Hand Made In England EucVintage Appointment By Prince Of Wales Silk Neck Tie By Turnbull Asser Vintage Brooks Brothers Blue Silk Hunting Dog Hound Print TieVtg Christian Dior 100% Silk Tie Burgundy Teal Gray NecktieVintage 40's 50's Wide Van Heusen Silk Tie/necktie/neck TieSkinny Vintage Neck Tie Red Black San Milo Silk100% Auth Hermes Tie Silk Necktie Mens Vintage Equestrian Geometric Pattern 7190Vintage Hermes Tie Twill Silk Designer Horsebit Link Pattern Blue Necktie 957Vtg Dunhill Tailors Silk Ascot Tie Burgundy White Blue Floral Dot Neat Print NyAuthentic Vtg Chanel Paris Silk Tie Geometric Pattern On Cream With Cc LogoAuth Vtg Silk Neckties Gianni Vesace Medusa Made In ItalyJerry Garcia Lot Of 7 Neckties Multicolor Vintage Men's Silk Formal Suit Vtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Floral Baroque Silk Italy Luxury Groom GvVtg Gianni Versace1 Necktie Tie Medusa Exquisite Floral Silk Italy Luxury GroomVtg Polo Ralph Luaren3 Rl 1967 Bear Necktie Tie Silk Soie Luxury Groom Tuxedo