At the G7 in July of last year, the leaders were photographed without ties while yelling “death to the tie!” But even though politicians and businessmen had temporarily abandoned the tie, it was brought up again during the most recent men’s and, more importantly, women’s fashion weeks, where it was chosen as a wardrobe essential. What is the key to its longevity? A soul on the edge of formal elegance, a particular characteristic of belonging, a representation of conformity or rebellion. It all depends on who wears it with and how.
The tradition of wrapping a strip of beautifully twisted tissue around the neck dates back a very long time. The first known tie can be found in the tomb of Shih Huang Ti, the first Chinese emperor, and his terracotta army, which dates back to 221 BC. It was originally worn around the necks of Roman legionaries and members of the military as a type of scarf to protect their breathing from dust created by the vanguards. After a protracted absence, this ornament made a comeback in 1600 when it was worn around the necks of Croatian mercenaries fighting for France in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648).The words “Cravate” and “Cravatta” come from the tiny difference in how the French word for Croatia, “Croates,” and its Slavic equivalent, “Hrvati,” are pronounced. It is so quickly in style that Louis XIV has worn the oldest version, the lace one, since he was a young boy. Without sacrificing its crucial role in conveying both group identity and personal preference through subtly referencing income, social, and cultural ties of the user, the tie gradually changes from being a piece of clothing worn to shield the throat from the cold into a habit. Loved by poets, painters, and dandys like Beau Brummell in the nineteenth century, the tie rose to fame in the early twentieth century thanks to fashion publications like Vogue and Art-Goût-Beauté. Activists and writers use it to challenge norms and stand out in society at the same time. Colette and George Sand, two suffragettes, say that it’s more than simply a method to make fun of men; it’s a genuine outcry of indignation against patriarchal influence that pushes them into a corner.
Along with emancipation and a spice of seductive charm, that moment of rebellion will always be a fundamental component of the interaction between women and ties (for this we have to thank Yves Saint Laurent and his famous tuxedo). Consider the famous people who have worn it throughout the years: Marlene Dietrich, Patti Smith (do you remember the Horses album cover? ), Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl wearing a “power tie,” Julia Roberts at the 1990 Golden Globes, and Avril Lavigne skating.
For a very long time, wearing a tie as an accessory could mean many different things to women, all of which were significant: rebelling against patriarchy, making an ironic statement about latent conformism, securing leadership roles in the male-dominated workplace, and dispelling gender stereotypes. The most recent interpretations of designers, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, and Ralph Lauren, choose to ignore the many socio-cultural aspects of the tie and instead use it as an accessory to add some flair to the outfit. In 2022, a tie can have any significance that the wearer chooses, but it also has a fashion soul that elevates and adds flair to our clothing, whether they be casual, dressy, preppy, or fun.