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  • The Bow Tie: A brief history

    Good news for all bow tie lovers – New York Times fashion guru David Colman is reporting a major comeback on the fashion scene as the bow tie once again tops the style stakes for men.

    Fashion designer Tom Ford has helped to reignite the bow tie\'s style credentials.

    Oddly enough for an item regarded as wholly decorative, the bow tie originates from functional clothing worn during the Roman period. At this time, orators would wear neck cloths, ensuring they kept their vocal chords warm and therefore optimizing their ability to make speeches.

    Additionally, early neck cloths offered a form of protection to soldiers, who wrapped them round so many times that they could provide a barrier against sword thrusts. These neckerchiefs served an additional function during warfare, by identifying on which side of the battle the soldier was fighting.

    King Louis XIV was clearly a fan of elaborate neckwear.

    It was in the 17th century that the neck cloth really took hold as a fashion item, although it still retained an element of functionality. Croatian soldiers used the cloth to tie together their open shirts when, in celebration of their hard-fought victory over Turkey, they visited Paris in 1660. The soldiers were presented as glorious heroes to Louis XIV, a monarch well known for his eye toward personal adornment, and the sophisticated French were enchanted by the dashing appearance of the soldiers. The ‘Cravat’, named after the French word for ‘Croat’, was adopted as a novel neck accessory, and quickly became all the rage in Paris.

    Beau Brummel, one of the leaders of English Regency fashion and famous for his flamboyant cravats. Beau Brummel, one of the leaders of English Regency fashion and famous for his flamboyant cravats.

    The French Revolution (1789) took the Cravat to extravagant new heights. The fashion dandies of the time, the‘Incroyable’, wore enormous neck clothes – so large they even extended over the mouth. For the Romantics of the 19th century, neckwear became the most important feature of male attire, and was regarded almost as an art form. In 1828, H. Le Blanc published ‘The Art of Tying your Cravat’, showing 30 different ways to fashionably fasten the accessory.

    Later in the 19th century, the collar became a more important focus of male dress, causing the tie to take on subtler forms, such as a crisp tailored bow with a wide flat knot. This was the birth of the modern bow tie, which played an important role through the 20th century, both as a form of military and formal attire (Churchill was an avid wearer), and for more tongue in cheek fashion statements (the New Romantics of the 1980s).

    Today the bow tie is available in a huge array of designs – from the conservative and tailored to the dazzling and flamboyant - but it has retained the element of elegance, sophistication and distinctiveness that has helped it to develop and flourish over the past 1000 years.

    Smart Turnout 100% Silk Bow Tie Smart Turnout 100% Silk Bow Tie

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