It’s a snake that doesn’t hiss, a rope that doesn’t choke, a necklace that doesn’t dangle, a curtain without a window and a bib not meant for a baby. That’s correct, I am talking about a neck tie. Where do these crazy things come from and why in the world do we still put them on to look fancy?
The overpriced pieces of fabric that we tie around our necks have been a tradition for a while, so most people just take it as a fact of life: “If you want to dress up, you must wear a tie.” But how did this hanging fashion statement come to be? As most great fashion inventions are made, the tie’s cousin, the cravat, was first worn by a civilian named Louis XIV. Yes, “Louis le Grande” who said “It is legal because I wish it,” in a slightly more French accent than you can conjure and in a palace far greater than you can imagine. He decided during the 30 years war (waay too long of a war) to try the look of the Croats who wore this scarf thing around their necks.
That was the pebble of our avalanche, because you know once the rich and famous wear something, everybody else has to have it on. “Yo, Jay-Z wore a lolypop in his hair last night, man. I gotta get me one of those.” The court of Louis XIV started wearing the cravats around their necks and the fashion piece spread around the world.
It was a while until the modern tie was invented, though. For years people wore ascots, bow ties and the much more aptly named “neckercheif“, until the industrial revolution, when people realized they could industrialify this process of adorning strangely knotted cloths. The modern long neck tie was created so that the everyday man could easily tie it, and it would last a long time. From this fusion of inventiveness and fashionista-ness people could now where a neck tie as often as they wanted (never).
The most universally important question came out of this invention though: “How do you tie your tie?” Thomas Fink and Yong Mao sought to answer this question. They did some research and found that there are 85 ways to tie a tie (without making the knot too large [9 moves or less]). 13 of these knots they deemed as aesthetically pleasing, and thus the debate thickened. Whether you prefer the Half-Windsor over the Full-Windsor (not to be harmfully mistaken for a Full Nelson), the Four-in-Hand over the Pratt, or the Atlantic over the Ediety, we all have to loop our pieces of fabric around themselves in order to make some sort of triangle at the base of our neck.
Now that we know we have Louis le Grande to thank for our itchy necks, and that we probably shouldn’t use method #84 to tie our tie in the morning, we can all be at ease to know the origins of our neckercheifs. Just make sure to choose the right pattern to match the shirt you forgot to put on.