The history of neckties dates back hundreds of years, when they came in to existence as the direct result of a war – just as most fashion styles are acquired. In 1660, in celebration of its hard-fought victory over the Ottoman Empire, French soldiers were presented as distinguished 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, otherwise known as cravats. It wasn’t long before this new style crossed the channel to England. Soon no gentleman would have considered himself well-dressed without sporting some sort of cloth around his neck – the more decorative, the better. At times, cravats were worn so high on the neck that a man could not move his head without turning his whole body. The various styles pushed the boundaries, as cravats of tasseled strings, plaid scarves, tufts and bows of ribbon, lace and embroidered linen all had their loyal enthusiasts. Nearly 100 different knots have been recognized.
Ties have evolved from the wide style worn in the ‘60s – a result of the rebellion against both tradition and the formality of dress – to the style of today. Fashion has no limits. Anything goes. When you are out and about, you’ll see everything from the business tie to the casual neck scarf worn, each with varying types of knotting that have not changed in the past century. The classics are the Windsor, the Half-Windsor, the Prince Albert, the Cross Knot and the most traditional, the Four in Hand. The Shelby knot is the most unusual because it begins on the reverse side of the tie (the seam side). Don’t let that stop you though. Try out some of these styles for a different look: