We’ve presented the woven ties, knit ties and even bow ties in the previous episodes. So now let’s go further back in time to visit the ancestor of all modern neckwear – the cravat. The modern cravat isn’t technically the same as what the Croatian mercenaries wore during the Thirty Years’ War. It is, however, the one that evolved the least, and yet is still applicable in the modern day classic menswear. So let’s dive into the equally elegant, and yet relatively unknown neckwear.
A Very Short History Of The Evolution Of Neckwear
Previously, we’ve shared that the modern neckwear descended from the neckwear of the Croatian mercenaries during the Thirty Years’ War. Their French aristocrat employers took a liking to their unique style, and adopted it for their own. Throughout the centuries thereafter, the western civilisation slowly evolved the cravat, until it became the modern tie and bow tie. But somewhere along the way, one of the branches stopped evolving. And this branch became the modern day cravat.
That’s enough history lesson for now. History buffs can click here to learn more. Instead, let’s turn our attention towards the modern day cravat.
Cravats Are Less Formal Than Ties… But Yet They’re Also More Formal Than Ties?
There are generally two major ways to wear cravats. One is the “day cravat”, a more casual iteration of the neckwear. And the other is the “formal cravat”, also known as wedding cravat.
Cravats are broader than regular ties, and have two equally broad ends. Generally cinched together at the centre to allow it to wrap around your neck easily. Also unlike regular ties, there’re no front or rear ends, nor front or rear facings. So you can tie it from either end and either side.
(1) The Day Cravat
The day cravat, the more common variety, is the casual way of wearing a neckwear with an open neck. You typically wear it under your collar, right against the skin of your neck. Not exactly suitable for any business related activities, but it looks right at home in a country club.
Having brunch by the pool of your members-only country club, or lazing on the deck of a yacht. The day cravat brings out the elegance whilst remaining laid back at the same time.
(2) Formal Cravat
Unlike the day cravat, you wear the formal cravat over your collar, just as how you’d wear a regular tie. But unlike a regular tie, a cravat is unlined, making it rather flimsy. Also unlike a regular tie, a cravat is very much shorter and broader too. So when you tie a four-in-hand knot like a regular tie, it’ll end up looking rather short and crumpled. But that’s the beauty of a formal cravat. Tuck it under a waistcoat, and you’ll end up looking very elegant indeed. Layer with a cutaway coat of your morning dress, and you’re all decked up for any social formal morning event.
Sometimes also known as the wedding cravat, as it’s also a common part of a groom’s ensemble. At least you’ll know that your guests won’t outdress you at your own wedding.
Why Did The Cravat Fall Out Of Fashion?
Technically speaking, cravats didn’t exactly fall out of fashion. The whole world underwent a paradigm shift of menswear. Suits were the appropriate corporate attire right up until the mid-20th century. The commonly accepted corporate uniform if you will. After that, dress-down Fridays movement started getting more popular. By then, suits were no longer the ubiquitous corporate uniforms anymore. You only break them out of the garment bag for the occasional formal events, probably once or twice a year. For the rest of the year, they hang quietly at the far end of every man’s closet.
And being less worn than the regular ties, cravats (and bow ties) simply weren’t popular anymore. At least you still can wear a tie for any formal work functions. Cravat, which was the casual option, simply wasn’t casual enough anymore. In its place, polo shirts and jeans became the mainstay of casual attire.
Double The Options, Or Halve The Price
Just like the bow tie, cravat has no distinctive front or back. And just like bow ties, some manufacturers sew two different colours or patterns together on opposite facings. So instead of buying a single cravat with a single pattern, you’ll get a double-sided cravat with two different patterns.
Not too sure how to tie a cravat? Not to worry, just watch the two videos below to learn. It’s all just a matter of familiarity. Once you’re familiar with it, you’ll be tying your cravats like tying your shoelaces.
Lack Of Popularity Also Means Lack Of Supply Too
A sad fact, but absolutely true, we can hardly expect to find cravats at the local department stores. Most of the sales assistants there probably don’t even know what a cravat is anyway. The only place that you can find cravats these days are at specialty menswear retailers and haberdashers. And, as mentioned in the previous episodes, even these specialty stores are few and far in between. The most convenient place to purchase cravats are still in cyberspace.
One reliable online specialty haberdasher is Trendhim. They don’t only carry cravats as part of their permanent inventory, they even carry other obscure accessories too. Take a look at their extensive range of cravats here.
You Suit Up Because You Want To, Not Because You Have To
With the resurgence of classic menswear, more men are rediscovering the art of dressing up once more. Our forefathers had to suit up for work. They didn’t have a choice. But the modern day office has no such requirement. Those who suit up today do so because they want to. It’s an expression of their personal brand, to relive the age of chivalry. If you identify yourself as a modern-day gentleman, perhaps you’d also take pride in your personal presentation too. And if you’re already assembling your basic attire, like suits and jackets, you should do the same for neckwear too. Regular ties alone just aren’t sufficient to present a variety of outfit to meet every formality level.
So are you ready to turn heads when you make your entrance? Then start building a wardrobe that will help you project that image. And if you’re ever in a bind of not finding the right garment or accessories, look up Trendhim. I’m sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for there. Feel free to leave your comments below if you have any exciting accessories to add to the mix.