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    

#1 Menswear Vintage Sulka Navy Midnight Blue Grenadine Garza Grossa Silk Tie NrGianni Versace Tie Floral Leaves Vintage 100% Silk Mens Necktie Italian PrintedVintage Nos 1940’s Neckties Ties! Vintage Salvador Dali Necktie "the Charger" - 40s/50s Hermes Hermès Vintage Silk Tie | 812 Ma | Equestrian Horse Stirrup Bridle MotifsNwt $225 Isaia Napoli Antique Gold Woven Red Floral Seven Fold Silk Tie Nr A1pNeck Tie-vintage-hand Painted-tropical(palm Tree's & Flamingo's)-14919cLot 7 40s Art Deco Swing Ties Wide Hand Painted Deadstock Nos 1940s 50s Vtg*vintage* Gucci Italian Gray & Black Tie ***signature Gg's!!!***Robert Talbott Best Of Class Thick Woven Maroon Antique Gold Paisley Silk Tie NrGianni Versace Vintage Hand-made Silk Tie Necktie | Baroque Medusa Motif2 Vintage Cutter & Metcalf Cravat Men's Ties Jockey Horses Colorcade PrintGreat Yellow Early 1950s Palm Beach Cloth Goodall Sanford Beau Brummell TieVintage Early 1950s Palm Beach Cloth Goodall Sanford Beau Brummell Necktie TieVintage 1940's/50's Swing Necktie Georges Schreiber Panorama Of America TieGianni Versace Vintage Blue Red Stripe Medusa 100% Silk Vintage Necktie TieOld Vintage Hermes 264 Ma Tie 100% Silk Beige/blue/red Color L55 W4.1Vintage 1930’s Style Wool Necktie Tie By Rrl Ralph Lauren! 100% Genuine Vintage Silk Tie Lot Of 6 Missoni Cravatte Made In Italy100% Genuine Vintage Silk Tie Lot Of 6 Missoni Cravatte Made In ItalyBrioni Vintage Silk Tie Necktie | Dis. Nº B070044 Vintage 40's Swing Era Necktie Cravat Tie Scrollwork Leaves 3 7/16" X 53 1/4Vintage Hand Painted & Signed Purple Stock Broker Necktie Bamberger's Mens StoreVtg Lot 2 Hermes Paris France 100% Silk Ties Tie 1 Blue Geometric 1 Pink 7062ta Large Vintage 1940's 1950's Tie Lot, 40 Print Jacquard Foulard Silk & Rayon OldVintage Brooks Brothers Madras Tie100% Genuine Vintage Silk Tie Lot Of 6 Missoni Cravatte Made In ItalyVtg Two Nicole Miller Hand Sewn 100% Silk Ties - Cat Lovers - Cat Food - NecktieFreemans Sporting Club Mens Tie Vintage Deadstock Wool Forest Green Steven AlanVintage Mens Ties, Set Of 3, Knit And Sequined, Unique!Vintage Metropolitan Museum Of Art Silk Necktie Unicorn Design Lot (2) Gucci Links Silk Ties. Made In Italy. Vintage Navy Blue/yellow/red/greenVintage 1950s Wembley Priestley's Nor-east Summer Men's Necktie Tie Palm BeachVintage Necktie - Computer Keyboard - Stephen Harris - Handmade SilkMens Neck Tie Vtg Prince Consort Kennedy Book Store University Kentucky #1269Vintage Giorgio Armani Tie 100% Silk Green/red/beige Color L56 W3.5Vintage Blue Plaid Neck Tie By ResilioLochcarron Pringle Of Scotland Vtg Wool 3-1/4" Plaid Tartan Neck Tie BlueVintage Classico By Paolo Gucci Blue With Gold Horsebit Silk Tie 60lVintage Nicole Miller Hand Sewn 100% Silk Tie With Medical Motifs - Necktie Women Gothic Gears Bowtie Vintage Industrial Victorian Bowknot Costume Dress UpVintage Gianni Versace Medusa Men's Silk Necktie Tie With Tag Nwt Italy Vintage Mcdonalds Manager Crest Neck Tie Nightlife Skyline Cars PatternVintage 1960's Sulka Silk Tie Blue Diamond DesignVintage Brooks Brothers Makers Navy Blue Cross All Silk Necktie Made In Usa TieVintage "ormond" Clip-on Ties Lot Of 6Brooks Brothers Silk Tie Red Blue Paisley Floral Pattern Vintage 3.75" 60" UsaVintage Original Adjustable Bow Tie *** Abstract Polka Dot PatternBrooks Brothers Silk Tie Blue White Mini Box Check Uk 3.6" VintageVtg Christian Dior Necktie-new York Paris-grayish Blue Print-dior Logo-56 X 3.25Coach Silk Tie Floral Paisley Vintage Classic Brown Blue Red 3.75" 56"Polka Dot Blue And White Classic Vintage Bowtie Bow Tie England MadeYves Saint Laurent-vintage Wool And Silk TieVintage Authentic Red Burgundy 100% Silk Holt Renfrew Ascot Tie From Italy A53Nicole Miller Vintage Silk TieRare Vintage Men's Necktie -- Japan Cup '98 -- Horse Racing -- 100% Silk -- Tie Men's Vintage Calvin Klein Neck Tie Rust Color With StripesChristian Dior Promotional Beauty Scarf, Vintage Mint Condition 28" X 28"Wembley Vintage Floral Necktie