All About Neck Ties

Types of Designs

Solid Ties

Solid ties come in a single colour, with little or no variations. They are mostly suitable for shirts that already have very loud patterns.

Striped Ties

Striped ties generally have diagonal stripes running across the face. For American ties, the stripes run downwards towards the right, for British ties, they run downwards towards the left.

Checked Ties

Checked ties are the busiest patterns used in ties. They are mostly suitable for solid colour shirts. Wearing a checked tie with a patterned shirt requires some panache.

History

After the First World War, hand-painted ties became an accepted form of decoration in America. The widths of some of these ties went up to 4.5 inches (110 mm). These loud, flamboyant ties sold very well all the way through the 1950s.

In Britain, Regimental stripes have been continuously used in tie designs since the 1920s. Traditionally, English stripes ran from the left shoulder down to the right side; however, when Brooks Brothers introduced the striped ties in the United States around the beginning of the 20th century, they had theirs cut in the opposite direction.

Before the Second World War ties were worn shorter than they are today. Around 1944, ties started to become not only wider, but wilder. This was the beginning of what was later labeled the "Bold Look;" ties which reflected the returning GIs' desire to break with wartime uniformity. Widths reached 5", and designs included Art Deco, hunting scenes, scenic photographs, tropical themes, and even girlie prints. Typical length was 48".

The Bold Look lasted until about 1951, when the "Mister T" look (so termed by Esquire magazine), was introduced. The new style, characterized by tapered suits, slimmer lapels, and smaller hat brims, included thinner and not so wild ties. Tie widths slimmed to 3" by 1953 and continued getting thinner up until the mid-1960s; length increased to about 52". Through the 1950s, neckties remained somewhat colorful, yet more restrained the the previous decade. Small geometric shapes were often employed against a solid background; diagonal stripes were also popular. By the early 1960s, dark, solid ties became very common, with widths slimming down to as little as 1".

The 1960s brought about an influx of pop art influenced designs. The first was designed by Michael Fish when he worked at Turnbull & Asser, and was introduced in Britain in 1965. The term kipper was a pun on his name. The exuberance of the styles of the late 1960s and early 1970s gradually gave way to more restrained designs. Ties became narrower, returning to their 2-3 inch width with subdued colors and motifs, traditional designs of the 1930s and 1950s reappeared, particularly Paisley patterns. Ties began to be sold along with shirts and designers slowly began to experiment with bolder colors.

This continued in the 1980s, when very narrow ties approximately 1 ½ inches wide became popular. Into the 1990s, as ties got wider again, increasingly unusual designs became common, such as joke ties or deliberately kitsch ties designed to make a statement. These included ties featuring cartoon characters, and those made of unusual materials such as plastic or wood.

Cravat

In 1660, in celebration of its hard-fought victory over the Ottoman Empire, a crack regiment from Croatia visited Paris. There, the soldiers were presented as glorious heroes to Louis XIV, a monarch well known for his eye toward personal adornment. It so happened that the officers of this regiment were wearing brightly colored handkerchiefs fashioned of silk around their necks. These neck cloths struck the fancy of the king, and he soon made them an insignia of royalty as he created a regiment of Royal Cravattes. The word "cravat" is derived from the "à la croate" - like the Croats (wear them).

Four-in-hand

The four-in-hand necktie (as distinct from the four-in-hand knot) was fashionable in Great Britain in the 1850s. Early neckties were simple, rectangular cloth strips cut on the square, with square ends.

The term "four-in-hand" originally described a carriage with four horses and a driver; later, it also was the name of a London gentlemen's club. Some etymologic reports are that carriage drivers knotted their reins with a four-in-hand knot (see below), whilst others claim the carriage drivers wore their scarves knotted 'four-in-hand', but, most likely, members of the club began wearing their neckties so knotted, thus making it fashionable.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the four-in-hand knot and the four-in-hand necktie were synonymous. As fashion changed from stiff shirt collars to soft, turned-down collars, the four-in-hand necktie knot gained popularity; its sartorial dominance rendered the term "four-in-hand" redundant usage, shortened "long tie" and "tie".

In 1926, Jesse Langsdorf from New York introduced ties cut on the bias (US) or cross-grain (UK), allowing the tie to evenly fall from the knot without twisting; this also caused any woven pattern such as stripes to appear diagonally across the tie.

Today, four-in-hand ties are part of men's formal clothing in both Western and non-Western societies, particularly for business.

Four-in-hand ties are generally made from silk, cotton, polyester or, common before World War II but not as popular nowadays, wool.

They appear in a very wide variety of colours and patterns, notably striped (often diagonally), club ties (often with a small motif repeated regularly all over the tie) and solids.

"Novelty ties" featuring icons from popular culture (such as cartoons, actors, holiday images), sometimes with flashing lights, have been quite prevalent since the 1990s, as have paisley ties.

Six- and seven-fold tie

The sevenfold tie is a construction variant of the four-in-hand necktie revived after the austerity of the Great Depression. A square yard of silk (usually two or more pieces sewn together) is folded to seven sections of silk between the folds.

Its weight and body derive exclusively from the layering of silk. It can require an hour or more to construct.

There are newly designed spinoffs to sevenfold ties, often referred to as four folds, or lined seven folds. These imposters frequently have the folds of the silk ending halfway through the middle of the inside of the tie.

These ties, while very thick, are essentially the same as regular lined ties, with the exception of the decorative origami like folds at the ends of the tie. They are most easily identified by the bottom square, the part of the back of the tie that hangs in front of the belt, which is not one single sheet of silk-normally the introverted pattern is exposed-but is two pieces of the silk with the liner in between.

In contrast to authentic sevenfolds, these ties' heft and body are derived by the weight of created by the folding of the silk upon itelf.

These other "seven-fold ties" are also referred to as Six-fold ties. They are typically self-tipped and lined. These are historically Italian made, although they are increasingly being made elsewhere.

For this reason, they are often referrd to as being "Italian style", while the sevenfold tie is usually untipped, unlined and is the "American style". The Talbott (Robert) Family is often credited with bringing back the sevenfold design which was almost lost as a result of the 1920s era depression.

It was much more expensive to make a tie completely of silk, so the lined tie with other tiping fabric was born. The classic sevenfold tie has no interfacing (interlining) of any kind yet drapes beautifully due to the weight derived from the precise folding of the silk upon itself. Generally a medium weight, 25-30 mm, silk is best used for creating one of these truly handmade ties.

Clip-on tie

The clip-on necktie is permanently knotted bow tie or four-in-hand style affixed with a metal clip to the front of the shirt collar.

This 20th-century innovation is considered by some to be stylistically inferior, but may be considered appropriate by some for wear in occupations (e.g., law enforcement, service clerks, airline pilots, etc.) where a traditional necktie could pose a safety hazard. Clip-on ties are also the most common form of child-sized ties.

Types of knots

The shape and size of a necktie knot is determined by the type of knot. Generally, more knot steps result in a larger knot, but other factors weigh in also, such as the material of the tie.

There are four main knots used to knot neckties. The simplest, the four-in-hand knot, may be the most common. The others (in order of difficulty) are: the Pratt knot (the Shelby knot) the half-Windsor knot the Windsor knot (also erroneously called the "double-Windsor"). The Windsor knot is the thickest knot of the four, since its tying has the most steps.

The Windsor knot is named after the Duke of Windsor, although he did not invent it. The Duke did favour a voluminous knot; however, he achieved this by having neckties specially made of thicker cloths.



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