M18267 | Tie

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1890-1900, 19th century
5.3 cm
Gift of Miss J. F. Caverhill
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Necktie (2)
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Keys to History

The necktie, one of the most powerful symbols of conformity to dominant masculine dress codes, has been worn for over 300 years. Throughout its long history, claims have rarely (if ever) been made for either the practicality of the necktie or its comfort.

By the 1860's, the long necktie, as we know it, was on the rise. The stock, a high constricting form of neckwear, was abandoned in favour of the narrow necktie worn with a fold-over collar and tied with a four-in-hand knot. Pre-tied ties, though convenient and popular, were scorned as being bogus. Gentlemen were urged to forego convenience on the principle that even a badly tied tie was always preferable to a pre-tied one.

Social pressures ensured that men wore ties despite their discomfort, but there was a vast range of colours, styles and fabrics to choose from. Some styles were named after celebrities or fashionable locations. The ascot, for example, took its name from the English horse-racing track patronized by English royalty.

  • What

    This necktie of heavily padded, figured silk is of the pre-tied variety.

  • Where

    Men could purchase their ties from the haberdasher, who specialized in the accessories of dress, including ties, and advised customers on the latest styles and colours.

  • When

    This tie dates from about 1890.

  • Who

    In the late 19th century, the necktie was an essential part of every man's wardrobe, no matter what his age or social status.