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When I started this little category, little did I know about men's ties. Hey, what can I say? I'm a girl. I have enough trouble identifying items in my own wardrobe.
Apparently ties got their start as neckwear worn by Chinese and Roman soldiers waaay back when. This was probably so soldiers could identify each other and easily identify enemies. Croatian mercenaries from the Croatian Military Frontier, wore small, knotted neckerchiefs during the time of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The Croatians named their little ties "Croats or Hrvati". The French dubbed them "Croates", so the garment ultimately became known as a "cravat." I guess they sort of split it down the middle..if you can do that with three words.
The cravats were held around the neck by cravat strings which were neatly tied in a bow. Hey, I'm beginning to see a pattern forming. There have been many names given to neckties and, in case you were wondering, none of them are four-letter words, except the bolo (or bola) which is a western tie consisting of a piece of cord or braided leather that are fastened in place with a decorative clip. Depending upon the decade, ties have been called stocks, solitaires, neckcloths, cravats, scarves, bandanas, bow ties, scarf/neckerchief, bolo, zipper, ascots and lastly the long tie. Each and every one specially designed to vex, torment and bewilder the well-dressed man, (with apologies to tieman Steve Harvey, my favorite game show host). Is this why the clip-on was invented? I'll betcha!
Actually, the 20th-century innovation, clip-on tie is very useful and a safe substitute for what really amounts to placing a self-imposed noose around one's neck. Law enforcement officers wear clip on ties to prevent scofflaws from getting the upper hand. I can't imagine little Billy with his Sunday best wearing anything other than a clip on neck tie. The colors of ties sometimes have significance as well, such as to identify membership of a particular club or organization.