The Evolution of Ties
Love them or loathe them there’s no question a tie is a sure fire sign of formality and elegance.
But with the modern workplace a much more relaxed environment in terms of dress sense, are ties in danger of dying out altogether?
We take a look back at the history of the tie and examine how it fits into the modern day man’s wardrobe.
The birth of the tie
There is much debate about the origins of the tie and how it came to be the fashion piece it is today. Was there ever a functional use or has it always been solely a decorative accessory?
Even going back four thousand years to Ancient Egypt there is evidence of the use of neck wear been worn. Ancient Tribes around the world seem to have all worn something around the neck, with very little other clothing.
If you’ve ever seen China’s Terracotta Warriors they are all depicted wearing a piece of cloth tied around their necks, with different type’s seemingly denoting rank.
Fast forward another 300 years and it seems the Romans were using neck scarves tucked into their chest armour. So it seems the idea of cloth tied around the neck was evolving throughout the military.
The leap into the Neck Tie as a Fashion piece… The Thirty Years War
In 1618 The French were at war against the Habsburg Empire. The war would last thirty years. During this war King Louis XIII of France recruited foreign mercenaries from surrounding countries, including Croatia.
King Louis XIII was so taken with the Croat Mercenaries traditional uniform, which featured a piece of cloth tied around the neck, he began to take up the trend himself. This became known as the Cravat.
From that point, ties and neckwear in general, quickly became a fashion statement for men wanting to project power, wealth and status. No man in Europe would dare have his portrait painted without wearing some form of neckwear.
Evolution of the Tie as we know it, in Britain
In the 1800’s, The British Army got rid of their brightly coloured uniforms, realising they were too easy a target for the enemy. So rather than skipping colour altogether, the regimental colours were transferred to a the neck tie, which looked very similar to the ties we know today.
They were shorter and had a thin interlining but otherwise the shape clearly looked like a modern tie.
By the time of Queen Victoria’s reign, the further a man had climbed the social scale, the more relaxed and subtle his neckwear became. The idea of dressing to progress your social standing came from men from lower classes wearing a tie designed for an upper class. Probably the origins of the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have!”
In the 1890’s public schools also joined in the tie craze, and so school ties were born!
Throughout the 1900’s a suit and tie was an absolute must for all workers, whether you had to have a strict uniform or were simply wearing your own clothing to work, a suit and tie was the only thing acceptable to be seen in.
Even working for the AA and RAC, fixing cars on the roadside, you were expected to wear a tie.
The tie only declined in popularity as a workwear essential at the dawn of the 21st century. True, in the USA they were tech companies in the eighties and nineties relaxing the rules and then of course, we had dress down Friday, but for an office worker you’d generally still expect to see them in a shirt and tie.
Nowadays, work can be done from a laptop anywhere in the world, many people work from home, and, for more labour intensive jobs, practicality has ousted formality.
So what now for Ties?
The Tie may have left most offices behind but there are of course formal occasions in which ties are still worn. The tie has evolved from an everyday item, to one of tradition, formality and elegance.
A good tie can be seen as a statement piece. The perfect complement to your formal shirts.
Still seen, perhaps subconsciously, as a sign of status, a tie should always be considered for an interview. Employers are more inclined to hire applicants who wear ties to an interview because wearing a tie communicates respect of the position.
We design a range of ties in luxurious 100% silk or polyester, perfect for weddings, christenings, job interviews or even just to make a statement!
Silk or Polyester Ties?
Due to a slightly dearer price tag, a silk tie can be seen as a luxury, with polyester ties the more budget option. Yet Silk is the most enduring tie fabric, often seen as the mark of a classy man and the staple of any gentleman’s wardrobe.
There’s no other fabric like silk. A natural material produced by silkworms, its unique characteristics result in a very soft and smooth fabric. Silk absorbs dye really well, giving it a rich colour. Silk also reflects light, so the colour of a silk tie will shine. The reflection of the light will make you stand out, rather than fade into the background!
Silk ties do have a few drawbacks. Silk can wrinkle easily, so it’s recommended that ties made from this material are rolled for storage rather than being hung on a tie rack. Silk doesn’t clean well either, making spills and stains a real danger. While silk can be dry cleaned and spot treated, the tie will ultimately never look the same as it did when it was new.
Polyester is produced using a chemical process that starts with the same crude oil that fuels our cars. Polymer fibres are melted and chemically bonded, and then formed into long strands which are spun into thread and yarn. These are then woven or knitted into fabric.
The resulting fabric is wrinkle resistant, which means your tie won't look rumpled and worn halfway through the day. The material is also stain resistant, which makes it a safe choice for wild work parties and for dinners out. If it gets spilled on, polyester is far easier to clean than silk.
But of course, polyester ties have their downside as well. Polyester doesn’t breathe, which matters less in a tie than in a shirt, but you still may get that yucky, clammy feeling around your neck. Even though it’s a stain resistant fabric, polyester can stain, and once it does it's nearly impossible to get out. The same principal goes for smells, so sweat can, over time spoil the tie. Also, never apply direct heat (like an iron) to polyester. If you do the fabric will melt!
So what do you reckon? Are ties destined to be a thing of the past or is there hope yet for this once essential item of men’s fashion?