Neckclothitania: The tie fashion of the nineteenth century

The ties that we wear today and skillfully tie around our necks are very different from those that were fashionable 200 years ago. When the tie was invented, it was initially reserved for the nobility; especially the English high society was enthusiastic about the accessory. No wonder that soon an overview and set of rules was written with instructions to the different tying techniques was published. The Neckclothitania was written almost 200 years ago, however, it contains quite a few principles of an elegant appearance that are still valid today.

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I have been induced to publish the following observations on the nature of Ties from a sincere and earnest wish of seeing a clear and distinct line drawn between l’homme comme il faut, and la canaille, as to the outward appearance and surface which a man exhibits to the passing gaze of of strangers (…)At the same time, it must be a great desideratum to every gentleman, to persuade the rest of the world that he is one; as, howevever, he cannot employ the same means to prove it to them, as he would to his intimates, he necessarily must accomplish it by his dress, for “The apparel of bespeaks the man”».

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Illustration of the front page of the Neckclothitania (1818)

Illustration of the front page of the Neckclothitania (1818)

With this preface begins the “Neckclothitania or Tietania” which was published in London in September 1818 starts and despite the pompous tone it describes ironically the fashion trends of the society at that time.

Included in the book are descriptions and illustrations of the regency tie that were in vogue: As you can see in the image, the accessory of the time resembled more a scarf than the tie as we know it today but the men tied them with complex techniques around the neck.

According to the author of the text, there were so many ways to tie a tie – or rather a scarf – at the time that his text as the title suggests was only meant to be a brief overview.

One of the knots that is described in the Necklothitania is the so-called “Oriental knot” which was used for solid, crisp fabrics, was brusquely tied and stayed always perfectly in place. The “Mathematic knot” (also called “Triangular knot”) was characterized by three loops. The “Osbaldeston” was just right for men who wanted a big knot and the “Irish”, instead, was small and simple. There is even a “Napoleon knot” from which it is said that it was invented by Napoleon during his exile on Elba. The summary of the tie knots at the beginning of the nineteenth century is long and contains many more techniques.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy

Colin Firth in costume as Mr Darcy (TV mini series “Pride and Prejudice”, BBC 1995)

Elegant and made from the finest textiles, the ties were the must-have accessory for the gentlemen of the 19th century. Today you can see the ties often as a part of the costume in films playing in this time.

The author concludes his book with the memory of the well-starched and professionally tied ties, which gave a graceful and sublime appearance to the wearer, as it is almost impossible otherwise. The accessory has changed greatly over the centuries, but their purpose has not!

 

Cufflinks Cylinder-green

Cufflinks Cylinder-green

Ascot Tie Champagne

Ascot Tie Champagne

Cummerbund - White

Cummerbund – White