Fashion Magazine

History of the Bow Tie

By Kena @campchic

With the Paris fashion week currently taking place and the distinct lack of bow ties that we have seen there, we thought this to be a crime against fashion! 

With so many famous bow tie wearers out there, along with some exquisite examples available online from retailers such as S Buckinghams, you may just find yourself soon wearing one!

Little do people know however, that bow ties have a past drenched with history, with some of the most beautiful and important people on the planet taking the special tie to their necks on matters of occasion. Indeed Frank Sinatra, Groucho Marx and James Bond himself all wear bow ties!
The history however, may be stranger (and bloodier) than you think!
Although the common necktie is a part of ancient history, with it being worn by Chinese and Roman soldiers as part of their uniform; it did not however, find its way to Europe until the time of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) where it was worn by Croatian mercenaries.
Interestingly however, the rise of the bow tie is also entwined with the Thirty Years’ War, as it too was warn by the Croatian Mercenaries at this ime.
Used as a scarf which was tied around the neck, the bow tie would hold the opening of the shirt together; a technique which would soon be adopted by upper class members of the French bourgeois, soon becoming a fashion icon by the time of the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Although it is certainly possible to trace the bow tie back to the ages of The Thirty Years’ War (a war which finished off the ancient Roman Empire,), it is uncertain as to how the evolution of the bow tie itself occurred.
In an almost chicken and egg fashion, it is fairly impossible to ascertain as to which came first, the cravat or the bow tie.

Indeed, from mercenaries to the bourgeois of France, the bow tie has come a long way as today, it is largely associated with particular professions including that of architects, politicians and university professors as well as the humble waiter.

Interestingly, the bow tie is also the tie of choice of paediatricians, as whilst inspecting a child or baby, a necktie often invites the child to pull or tug on the tie and thanks to the short arms of the bow tie, this is an option that is not available to the child; indeed it could be said that the bow tie has therefore saved the life of many a paediatrician!

Since the Prussian wars however, it is largely thanks to one man that the bow tie has endured through the eons of history. During the 1860s’ Pierre Lorillard V was kind enough to invent to the world, the tuxedo, as an alternative to the tailcoats which were commonly worn at the time.

Thanks to the tuxedo (its name founded upon Tuxedo Park in New York where it was worn for the very first time), the bow tie found a new place within society where its popularity flourished again, to be enjoyed by the world for centuries to come.

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