The history of the necktie is as rich and colorful as the patterns that adorn them. Designers, actors and royalty in the 1920s and 1930s left a distinctive stamp on the tie that gives the modern man the opportunity to express himself at work or play.
Jean Patou was the first designer to bring personality to men’s ties. In the early 1920s, Patou printed men’s ties with the same patterns appearing on his women’s dresses and started the trend of fanciful neckwear.
A 1970s tie with 20s flair, a rare lined 1930s silk tie, and a unlined 1930s rayon brocade tie available at Retro Active Vintage.
Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, popularized the Windsor Knot method of tying ties in the UK and Europe before WWII. He increased the style’s popularity here during a 1930s trip to the United States. Newly minted movie stars, Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, were early adopters of the Duke’s style, and spread the fashion throughout the country in films like Top Hat and Casablanca. Ties similar to those worn by the Duke of Windsor, Astaire and Bogart can be found in vintage and antique shops across the country, and they still look sharp with a modern suit or dress shirt.
Prewar ties are easily identifiable while shopping if you keep two features in mind. With a few exceptions, most prewar ties are not lined. Prewar ties are also short, usually around 44 inches long. Men in this era typically wore their ties under a jacket or vest, and because pants sat at the natural waist, prewar ties didn’t need to be as long as modern ties.
Ties from this era stop above the belt and can look extremely short to the modern eye. If you want to avoid an era specific look, wear prewar ties with sweaters, vests, or jackets to mask the atypical length. If you want the look of a prewar tie, but need a longer length, an original tie from the 1970s or a tie made using vintage fabric can achieve a similar look.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to tie a Windsor Knot courtesy of the Neckwear Association of America:
Photo courtesy of Retro Active Vintage
Start with the wide end of the tie on your right and extending 12 inches below the narrow end
Cross the wide end over the narrow end and bring the wide end up through the loop
Bring the wide end down, around and behind the narrow end, and then up on your right
Bring the wide end down through the loop and cross it at right angles over the narrow end
Turn and pass through the loop again, and complete by slipping through the knot in front
The history of the necktie is as rich and colorful as the patterns that adorn them. Designers, actors and royalty in the 1920s and 1930s left a distinctive stamp on the tie that gives the modern man the opportunity