Definition: Necktie: Neckwear consisting of a long narrow piece of material of varying length worn around the neck and tied under the chin with a knot or a bow. Worn mostly by men, the most common designs are the four-in-hand, the bow tie, the Windsor tie, and the bolo tie.
Provenance: Neck ties have always been worn more to signify status than to provide warmth. In the Quinn Dynasty, Shih Huang Ti’s Terracotta Warriors wore silk cords around their necks to indicate their elite status; and much later, during the 30 Years War, the French recruited Croatian mercenaries who wore colorful kerchiefs around their necks. The court of King Louis XIV adopted this fashion, calling them cravats and appointing a tie maker to the king whose job included tying them. By the mid 17th century most European men of stature and culture were wearing cravats/neckties.
The pattern for the modern four-in-hand tie is a fairly recent development. In 1924, Jess Langsdorf, a tailor, discovered that a fabric cut at a 45-degree angle would have an inherent elasticity and better drape. His patent became the template for designers and manufacturers worldwide.
To some extent the wearing of a tie still conveys influence and authority. Although the red tie is generally considered the “power tie”,in the 80’s the yellow tie (especially one with red dots) became very popular, and President Obama’s pale blue has also set a precedent.
The bow tie, originally used to keep shirts intact, was also worn by the elite. There are 3 popular styles: the bat wing, the butterfly, and the ready-tie, which has a clip to affix it to the shirt.
Widely associated with Western wear, the bolo tie was invented by silversmith Victor Cedarstaff of Arizona in the late 1940’s. The bolo, consisting of a piece of cord or braided leather with decorative metal tips (aglets), is the official state neckwear of Arizona (1971), New Mexico (2007) and Texas (2007). In the United Kingdom bolos are known as “bootlace ties”; the Teddy Boys wore them with drape suits in the 1950’s.
How to Select:
–Feel the tie fabric. If silk feels rough, it is of inferior quality.
–Check construction. A quality tie will be made from three pieces of fabric, whereas a cheaper one will be made from only two.
–Look for hand-rolled, hand-stitched hems, as they will last much longer than a machine-made one and look richer.
–If possible, try it on to make certain that it ties a knot well.
–Check the lining. A well-cut lining is the essence of a quality necktie. To hold its shape, it should be made of firm wool (check for 100% wool and gold bars on the lining) and stitched with a resilient slip-stitch.
–Look on the back of the tie for the “bar tack”, just above the inverted “V” where the two sides meet . This is the stitch that joins the sides, helping the tie to retain its shape.
–Check tie for loose threads and uneven weavings.
–Make sure the tie has been cut on the bias. This allows the tie to hang straight after it has been knotted/tied. To test for this, loop the tie on your hand and see if it turns in the air. If it does, it will do the same on your body.
–A bespoke tie is a custom made tie: the customer chooses the silk fabric, including color, pattern texture and thickness; type of knot; number of folds (4, 6, or 7); length, stripe direction (if appropriate); and interlining.
SIZE AND SHAPE: Your preferred knot style–Four-in hand, half Windsor knot, Windsor knot, Pratt knot, or bow-tie– will mainly determine the size and shape of the tie selected. Most American and European ties are typically 56 inches long (going to 60 inches for taller men) and 3 1/4–31/2 inches in width. The bow tie ranges from 14-20 inches. Because different knots require different lengths of tie, keep your desired knot in mind when selecting the tie length; the Pratt and the four-in-hand use less fabric to tie. Ties come in different widths; tie width should correspond to jacket lapel width. ( There are several on-line videos which demonstrate these knots ie How to Tie a Tie Video)
Pick a tie that hits the top of your/recipient’s belt buckle and measures between 2 1/4 and 4 inches wide.
FABRIC: Although the modern necktie can be made of almost any fabric or weave, the most popular luxury business and “dress” ties are made of silk or very fine wool. Neckties made from silk represent about 40%. Technological advances have resulted in man-made fibers which produce a fabric resembling silk and are often combined with other fabrics to produce a wide range of effects. Cotton, linen, polyester, rayon, nylon, and ramie, as well as knitted and crocheted ties are usually worn for more casual occasions.
COLORS: When choosing colors, consider 1. Complexion and hair color of wearer , 2. Clothing it is to be worn with 3. The occasion (formal, informal). Woven solids, brick tones, and dark bold colors, such as burgundy and blue are generally appropriate for the corporate environment.
PATTERNS: The giver or wearer may select from many patterns, the most popular of which are solid, stripes, checked, geometrics, dots, paisley, knitted, and woven. School , club and animal (very small) ties are also popular in certain circles. Patterns and textures can be used to achieve a rich style.
How To Care For
TO MAINTAIN: To prevent stretching tie’s fibers, always untie your tie ( reversing steps) rather than just pulling knot apart. Your tie will hang properly and last longer. Hanging tie as soon as you remove it will help to flatten out wrinkles and creases.
TO SPOT CLEAN: Use clean cloth to soak up as much stain as possible, avoiding rubbing; for water-soluble stains, place clean cloth with seltzer water over stain and dab lightly; for oil-based stains, sprinkle spot with talcum powder or salt and leave on a few minutes to absorb grease; for especially tough stain, use safe stain remover on spot, then blot.
TO CLEAN: Although most silk ties are not really meant to be cleaned, sometimes hand-washing is successful. Use small amount of mild detergent in cool water. Immerse tie and swish; do not wring. Rinse with clear water several times. Then add quarter cup of white vinegar to basin of clear water and immerse tie to remove any excess detergent and help to restore the natural sheen of the fabric. Rinse with clear water and carefully roll in clean towel, removing excess water, and dry flat on towel. Some professional dry cleaners specialize in cleaning quality ties, placing them in protective bags and doing them by hand.
TO IRON: For minor wrinkles, starting with the narrow end, roll tie around four fingers, then put it on flat surface for a few hours…or use steam above boiling water, in shower or with a steamer. For stubborn wrinkles, determine the tie’s material and set iron’s temperature accordingly; place tie on ironing surface with back facing up; lay thin cloth over spot to be ironed, start from wide end of tie, moving inward from the edges and progress to narrow end. If wrinkles persist, iron again with dampened cloth.
TO PACK: Ties can be rolled or folded for packing. A cylindrical tie travel case is a good investment for protecting your quality ties. However, rolled ties can also be placed inside a clean sock or in suitcase pocket. To roll properly, align the tips at the bottom of the tie and roll beginning with the narrow end. To properly fold ties, fold it in half, then fold in half again, place in suit jacket pocket and place in luggage. This method is also ideal for item being stored in a garment bag. When you arrive at your destination, hang ties in bathroom while you shower to ensure their smoothness.
TO STORE: Knitted and crocheted ties should be stored flat or rolled up, but never hung. Keep all other ties on hanger when not in use.
For Gifts: Always consider the recipient’s color and style preferences as well as his need/desire for casual or formal ties. In addition to the classic tie styles, patterns and colors, the giver can also choose from specialty ties, ie for coaches, dentists, soccer players, fishermen, lawyers, policemen, chemists, Christians, golfers, patriots, cyclers… Novelty ties can be made of many unusual materials. One can purchase carved wooden neck ties made from various exotic woods, such as Utah Alder ($236.95) or Manzanita Root ($725.95). There are ties with LED’s. You can have a tie made from a collage of photos.
And, for the gift that keeps on giving, there’s always the Tie of the Month Club or the “World’s Best Dad” tie!
–The stripes (regimental or rep) on British ties usually run from top left to bottom right, while the stripes on American ties run from top right to bottom left.
–The smaller the dot, the more formal the tie.
–The loop that holds the small end of the tie is called a “keeper”.
–One can create “ill will” by wearing a tie to which he does not have “membership” rights, as with certain color and stripe patterns.
–Tucking your tie into your shirt to avoid spilling on it while dining is pretty tacky, but spilling gravy on your tie is probably worse. Although considered by some as old-fashioned, tie tacks and bars do work.
–The four-in-hand knot used to tie neckwear probably developed from the knot used in rigging the reins of a four-in-hand carriage. Before this particular rigging was used, a team of 4 horses needed 2 drivers; however, with a four-in-hand the solo driver could handle all 4 horses by holding the reins in one hand.
–The Bolo tie is the official tie of Arizona
–A good quality tie will require approximately 110 silkworm cocoons
–It is possible to purchase a bullet proof tie that will stop a 9mm bullet
–Around the world, the tie is still the most popular Fathers’ Day gift.
–A person who collects ties is called a Grabatologist
–The world’s longest tie was hung from the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa in 1987
–In April 2011, a 6-year-old boy in Smithtown , N.Y. set the world’s record for the “Most Consecutive Days a Child Has Won a Tie”, wearing it for 130 days to raise money for the local Make-A Wish Foundation .