This post is the first in a history of the tie series, with hopefully many to come. Men’s fashion doesn’t change as violently as women’s; its value comes from subtleties. This series will examine how the subtleties of the tie have changed, from 1920 to present day.
I pick the 1920s to start for some important reasons. Throughout the 19th century, cravats were tied in a variety of designs. However, as I wrote in an earlier post, their arrangements became more discrete and more characteristic of modern ties and bow ties as the 20th century approached. Come 1900, modern day bow ties and ties were dispersed among ascots and traditional cravats, and gaining on them.
In the first half of the 1920s, however, ties were plagued with problems. Since they were cut along the length of the tie, they easily developed permanent wrinkles. Though the four-in-hand was, by far, the most popular knot, the tie material caused it to become untied, which led to the use of tie pins to secure them.
However, those problems didn’t slow the spread of the tie. The most popular style was the Macclesfield, a silver-toned tie with small geometric patterns. (Named after the location it was produced in.)
Another popular choice in the 1920s was the striped club/regimental tie. They began in England, when men would take a silk strip, designating membership in a club or experience in a fighting unit, from their boater and tie it around their neck. After World War I, American demand for such ties increased, leading Brooks Brothers to reverse the direction of the strip (originally left shoulder to right side) and introduce club ties to the masses.
The reason the 1920s is the start of my series is that in 1926, Jesse Langsdorf, a NY tie maker, developed a new way to cut ties. By cutting the tie on a 45 degree bias, the tie maintained its original shape and resisted wrinkles. The same decade, an England manufacturing company developed the slip-stitch, which allows ties to snap back to their original shape after being tied.
Another powerful sartorial influences arrived on America’s shore in the 20s: The Duke of Windsor, or, as he was still called at that point, David Windsor, Prince of Wales. Though his visit immediately attracted media attention, the Duke’s popularity, and wrongly assigned reputation for pioneering the Windsor knot, would continue to grow during the 30s. Which will be the decade discussed in the next part of this series.
Bobby Jones photo credit: Black Watch
Walter Hagen photo credit: Wikipedia
Club tie photo credit: Ben Silver
Macclesfield photo credit: A Suitable Wardrobe
Fairbanks photo credit: Wikipedia
Duke of Windsor photo credit: The Detroit News