What is the origin of the neckties that men wear?
It is possible that neckties date back to prehistoric times, although it cannot be proven. Prehistoric humans have often puffed and pounded their chests to show authority, and the rank of a male in prehistoric culture often depended on his chest ornaments.
The earliest form of a necktie appears in ancient Rome. Roman public speakers wore a neck cloth to protect their throats and keep them warm. Later on, Roman soldiers wore a neck cloth as did ancient Chinese warriors. It is believed that these were not worn as addornments but were used to pad and support the armor the soldiers wore. However, these neck cloths disappeared completely during the Middle Ages.
Most historians believe that the necktie originated in the 1660's during the reign of Louis XIV of France. A regiment of crack Croatian mercenaries, who were celebrating their victory over the Turks, visited France and were presented as heroes to King Louis. The king, known for his fondness for fashion, noticed that the Croatian officers wore brightly colored silk handkerchiefs around their necks. The king was so enthralled with these that he made them a royal insignia and created his own regiment of royal "Cravattes." "Cravat" comes from the word "Croat," referring to the Croatians. When today's U.S. Soldiers wear their dress uniforms, they also wear colored neck cloths representing their unit (blue for infantry, red for artillery, yellow for armored, etc).
This new fashion quickly spread to other countries. English gentlemen always wore some type of cloth around their necks, the more elegant the better. Cravats were fashioned from plaid, embroidered linen, and other fabrics. They were often decorated with ribbon bows, lace, and tasseled string. Some were so high that a man couldn't turn his head, while others were thick enough to stop a sword thrust.
In the United States, colonists wore colorful bandannas around their necks rather than cravats. Eventually the cravat shrunk in size and evolved into the modern neck tie.
Although most men cannot tie all the common necktie knots, it could be worse.... In the 1880's, there were 32 different ways to tie a cravat.
Until the Civil War, virtually all neckties were imported from Europe except for the "bola" tie that was popular in the Southwest.
When Napoleon wore black silk handkerchiefs around his neck in battle, he always won. At Waterloo, he wore a white cravat and lost the battle and his kingdom.
In 1917, Dr. Walter G Walford wrote a discourse, "Danger in Neckwear," which claimed that tight collars and ties made people ill by retarding blood flow to the brain.