2017 Essays Ties

The Width of a Tie

By Aleks Cvetkovic

Jul 13, 2022

The Width of a Tie

Aleks Cvetkovic traces the story of the tie, from its 16th-century origins, right up to its latest home in our collection.

Honestly, I could geek-out over the history of the tie for pages and pages. It’s easy to get fixated on the more obvious changes in the suit over the past 100 years, but the tie has changed with it every step of the way. From its origins as an early 16th century ‘cravate’ worn by Croatian troops sworn to King Louis XIII, to the Victorian dandy’s silk neckerchief and on into Edwardian Europe, the tie is an artefact that is inextricably linked with social and cultural change.

When we hit the Jazz Age, its story gets really exciting. Come 1910, starched shirt collars and the arrival of the lounge suit allowed the cravat to morph into the tie shape we know today, although it wasn’t until the early 1920s that a New York based tiemaker called Jessie Langsdorf introduced slip-stitched and lined tie construction. At about the same time, new social freedoms relaxed dress codes and the tie became a tool for self-expression. Richer colours, prints and patterns gathered pace and a lot of the printed foulards that Drake’s still use today have their origins in the art deco period. The Duke of Windsor also popularised the Windsor knot in the mid 1930s.

Ties continue to evolve throughout the latter half of the 20th century, but it’s during the 1950s and ‘60s when they are perhaps at their coolest. You’ll doubtless know that as the world enters the Mad Men era, suits get slimmer and sharper. Well, ties do too, which brings us to the latest collection from Drake's.

I’m also keen on the collection because it feels so smooth. There are quirky club stripes with an early 20th century flavour and several finely printed foulards in navy, red, green, a coppery shade of brown, and fuchsia. These feel quite art deco, but some have a touch of ‘60s and ‘70s attitude – the pink and red foulards feel like the sort of thing a Rolling Stone would have chosen to wear with his bold checked suit. In turn, these are grounded by four timeless classics; a navy and white stripe, a printed polka-dot, a soft grey Prince-of-Wales silk jacquard and a plain navy repp tie.

It’s easy to draw on these different influences and build-out your look from a tie. Pair one with a dark flannel suit, white club collar shirt and plain pocket hanky for a sophisticated professional look, or wear a tie to anchor outfits that are more casual. Wear them to work, wear them after work, dress them down for a preppy look on the weekends – they really are indispensable.

But don’t just take my word for it. Drake’s is giving you a chance to experiment with something new and unashamedly cool, so go on, try one out. Who knows what a slimmer blade might do for you?

Share This