Mirror of history: Neckties have a storied history
With the necktie-giving season starting now, it's time to give those often-maligned bits of color a searching look. After all, two-thirds of all necktie sales are made during the Christmas season, and the average American businessman will spend f...
With the necktie-giving season starting now, it's time to give those often-maligned bits of color a searching look. After all, two-thirds of all necktie sales are made during the Christmas season, and the average American businessman will spend four hours next year just tying said gift. When China's first emperor died about 2,250 years ago he was buried with 7,500 statues of soldiers. When the tomb was opened, about thirty years ago, every single soldier statue in it was wearing a colored neck cloth. No earlier evidence of the practice has been found as yet.
The people who make a study of such things believe that neckties came into being as simple neckcloths, used wet to keep the body cool in summer and dry to keep it warm in winter. About 450 years ago a crack regiment of soldiers from Croatia visited Paris. This was in the time of King Louis XIV, who was a fool for fashion. He really liked the bright colored scarves the visitors wore about their necks and immediately adopted the custom. Well! When the king does something, others will follow -- and follow they did.
It wasn't long before brightly colored scarves became the mode dujour throughout the country. They were called "Cravates" which was the French name for Croatia --and it's come down to us as "cravat." Across the Channel Englishmen wore shirts with strings at the neck to close them. It didn't take long before the simple string began to grow and become more elaborate and the ancestors of today's neckties were born.
Neckties really came into their own after World War II, when soldiers coming home wanted to dress up. The custom caught on and grew until no man who worked in public could appear without a necktie. There were and are drawbacks, however.
Researchers found that a necktie tied just an inch too tight reduced the flow of blood to the brain and eyes, reducing job performance noticeably.
Further tests resulted in reduced reaction times. There's an old story about a man who was having a great deal of physical trouble. He was short of breath and he felt as if his eyes were popping out of his head. Doctors could find no physical reason for this phenomenon, so the man put up with it as best he could.
One day he went to a tailor because he needed some new shirts made.
As the tailor was measuring him, he called out the measurements to an assistant who was putting them down carefully. When the tailor measured the man's neck, he called out, "Seventeen inches." "Sorry," the customer said, "I wear a size 16 collar." To which the tailor replied, "When you do that, you'll be short of breath and it will feel as if your eyes will pop out of your head."
Now make your Christmas gift tie list.