Posted by: Viviana M. Rueda Image | March 28, 2008

For Men: Neckwear, Neckties, Ties – Oh, the variety

I often hear people say that men have little choice or variety in their fashion choices, which launches me into one of my favorite topics – that being the breadth of creativity that men can engage in with fashion-related self expression.  I want to dedicate some attention to the man’s necktie, otherwise popularly known in the U.S. as the “tie”.  Other variations of the name include cravat, ascot, bows, and bandanas.  Although I tend to this think that these are really more styles of ties than alternate names.

In terms of longevity, the tie seems to have quite a history.  If you are familiar with the Chinese emperor who chose to be buried with 7,500 terra cotta soldiers, (personally I think this guy was scared of the dark) you may remember that each soldier is wearing a neck cloth.  Think of it as the BC (as in Before Christ) necktie.  Who knew there would be Fashionistas in the afterlife?  Apparently this Emperor thought they should be prepared just in case the fashion police was there to greet them in heaven, hell or whatever there is on the other side.  The Romans also sported neckwear – Check out Trajan’s column, it depicts soldiers with neckwear. 

What’s so beautiful about the tie is that men have so much variety!  You can choose from woven designs to prints and from there the creativity abounds.  Not so surprising then that I’ll have plenty to write about in future Blogs as it pertains to ties.  You’ll see future Blogs on necktie styles, how to wear neckties, how to tie neckties, what to wear with neckties, what not to wear with neckties….blah, blah, blah.  I bet you never thought there could be so much content dedicated to the tie.  But this piece of men’s clothing has a long and colorful history.

For now I want to share a story about the striped tie.   The striped tie has been associated in modern history with true and tried conservative attire.  This is most probably because striped designs were appropriated for a variety of uses by many military groups.  The Brits for instance used stripes for regimental colors.    In fact, all British regiments had a specific color scheme that belonged to only them.  The direction of the stripe was also very specific.  It had to run diagonally from the left shoulder down toward the right side of the body.  This was for very logical aesthetic reasons (shocking that the Brits would be so orderly).  Men’s jackets traditionally buttoned left over right so that you could easily reach your sword.  Brilliant design!!!  Then the Americans came along and changed the stripes to go the over way – oh, HOW gauche!  As you can imagine, there for a time the British were a tad annoyed to see their long-time respected colors being abducted by Americans. 

The striped tie is pretty much a standard issue tie that should be in any man’s wardrobe.  Firstly, the sumptuous array of colors and fabrics for striped ties give you a great deal of levity for self-expression plus the striped tie allows you to leverage the play of stripes against your body and face.  The diagonal line helps to lean out and soften a broad face, neck or chest. 

So, next time that you go to pick out a striped necktie, you’ll be much more appreciative of its history!
Tip of the Week
For this Spring/Summer you’ll find that as to be expected, there are lighter colors, although Summer tends to be running to the range of medium colors rather than pastels.  The necktie also continues to lose width (I would recommend you to stick to a standard width unless you’ve the interest and budget to indulge in trends).  This is the time of the year to explore floral patterns if you can carry them. 

Happy Tie-Wearing!


Viviana M. Rueda
Creative Founder
Vivendi Fashionista


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