Neckties Through the Ages—Introduction

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

2,000 Years of the Necktie
The history of America's favorite Father's Day gift

by David Johnson

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

Click Here for the Next Tie Entry

Former president Clinton liked his colorful, while Regis Philbin wants his to match his shirt. The Duke of Windsor had a vast collection, but Col. Sanders always wears the same black one. And many men won't wear them at all.

Like them or not, neckties are the Father's Day gift. Americans spend more than $1 billion each year to buy a staggering 100 million ties. That's roughly one tie for every male over the age of 20 in the United States.

Male Identity

Men's neckwear has been made of every kind of material: silk, cotton, wool, leather, rope, string, lace, linen, rayon, and polyester. And whether they were called cravats, jabots, bandannas, bolos, ascots, bootlaces, bows, butterflies, kerchiefs, or simply ties, neckties have been closely linked to the male ego.

Ties have been used to proclaim status, occupation, and even identity, as well as allegiance to a group or cause, often military. Neckwear has also had utilitarian purposes—to protect the neck or hide buttons on a shirt.

The earliest known version of the necktie was worn by Shih Huan Ti, China's first emperor...


Knotty Questions

How Wide Should You Tie?

From Brooches to Pins

A First Class Tie

Care for Your Tie

Sources: Neckwear Association of America, The Tie, by Sarah Giddings, Columbia Encyclopedia, fifth edition; Time Almanac, 1999; The Last Resorts, by Cleveland Amory, and the following web sites:,,
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