As a descendent of men's neck scarves that were worn in China before the Han dynasty, the neck tie could be described as one of the most enduring trends in men's accessories. Croatian mercenaries wore 'cravats' to demonstrate their ranks and eventually carried the trend to Europe where it caught on with the French and increased in popularity at a remarkable pace. As folded collars replaced banded ones, French men competed for the most fashionable ties to adorn them. An English prince later spread the fervor for elegant silk ties to his compatriots, introducing the black tie and eventually the white tie as well. The necktie eventually slimmed to the current average, accommodating a variety of fashion trends in the meantime, including the ascot and the slim tie.

Today, men wear neck ties primarily in the office and on formal occasions. The finest men's ties are made in 100% silk or cashmere. Standard designs include stripes, polka dots, paisley and solid colors and can be found in a wide selection of colors, extra-long, wide, narrow and almost everything in between. Basic solid colors like red, blue and green are among men's favourites, while fanciful designs like paisley and floral patterns often come in shade variations of orange, yellow, purple, as well as other less common hues like pink. Shapes can vary from the traditional necktie that has a narrow and a broad end, both of which end in a point to skinny ties with blunt ends that resemble scarves to broader, looser ascots. Black tie events usually require bowties, though not always black.

There are four basic ways to tie a necktie. The Windsor knot is considered the most formal knot, due to its prominent size and precise shape. A half-Windsor is slightly less formal as is a Shelby knot, while a four-in-hand knot is the most common and the most informal. There are many good resources online if you are unsure of how to tie any of these necktie knots. The ascot tie is typically tied in a simple half knot and tucked into the waistcoat, cummerbund or sweater. Otherwise it is tied with a simple knot and the sides are tucked in one over the other. This is a nice alternative to the traditional neck ties and makes a bold statement.

Caring for your neckties is not difficult. All neckties should be untied and hung up or laid flat when not in use. Silk neckties in particular should not be washed at home, but dry-cleaned.

Most men today underestimate the value of a beautiful silk necktie, tied properly and accompanied by a nice button-down shirt and a matching pocket square in the jacket pocket, but the reality of the matter is that the man who dresses for success will find it. Wearing the proper formal or business attire to a party, to the office or even from day to day can be an important step in achieving your goals-and women love few things more than a man in a suit and tie.


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