2,000 Years of the Necktie
Real Men Wear Lace

by David Johnson

NECKTIES
THROUGH THE AGES
 
Introduction

210 B.C.
China's First Emperor

113 A.D.
Did Romans Wear Ties?

17th Century
Croatian Cravats for the King of France

Cravats Go to England

Real Men Wear Lace

18th Century
Cowboy Bandannas from India

Sailing the Seven Seas

19th Century
Business Suit Takes Shape

Cambridge & Oxford School Ties

Ties Fit for Officers and Gentlemen

Bow Ties Center Stage

A Tie Singing Dixie

Lord Byron's Legacy

Women Tie the Knot, Too!

20th Century
Paris Presents Designer Ties

Celebrities & Rock Stars

Ascots Cross Finish Line

Bolo: The Tie That Won the West

Turtleneck: The Anti-Tie

 
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Art museums throughout the U.S. and Europe are full of paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries showing generals, politicians, and aristocrats resplendent in their lace cravats. Lace was used for trimming, both men's and women's clothing, and also for decorating. Windows, beds, chairs, and tables were all festooned with lace.
Although England produced prodigious quantities of lace itself, lace from Flanders and Venice, considered the best, was imported in vast quantities. Because of strict trade regulations, lace smuggling became an international pastime.

For those who could afford it, no price was too costly. King Charles II is said to have once spent 20 pounds and 12 shillings on a single cravat. This was as much as five times an annual middle class salary.

Lace was not the only material used for cravats. Plaid scarves, ribbon, embroidered linen tasseled strings and ordinary cotton were all pulled into service. Some neckwear was so thick it was able to stop a sword thrust.



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