One might say what’s in a tie? It’s just an accessory. A tie is a tie. If that’s what you think, this post may change your mind. A necktie can transform a man’s appearance from casual to classy. Who invented this item of neckwear? How did all this variety in ties come to be? Here’s everything you need to know about this staple menswear accessory:

The Bow Tie
It was used by the upper classes in France. It was then used by fashion icons and evolved into the bow tie we know today. Bow ties just flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, these bow ties make a great style statement at fun-formal events like parties, dinners, and cocktail events when paired with a trim suit or a seersucker suit. They can be used for everyday wear.

The Bolo Tie
Originating in Southwest America, they emerged on the fashion scene in the 1940s. Also known as a bola tie, or a cowboy tie, this is all about a relaxed and rugged look. Bolo ties made using silver and leather are the official state neckwear in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The latest trendy ones with intricate silver work are all the rage for those who love the vintage look. The bolo tie is often sported by artists and hipsters.

The Skinny Tie
This one was made popular by the Beatles in the 50s. The ties from the 40s were much wider. The classic vintage skinny ties measured between 2 and 2.5 inches in width; yes they were indeed skinny! Some skinny ties were made of leather, while there were those knitted out of wool and cotton. These skinny men’s accessories are now back in fashion because they are great for office wear and just as good for a sharp look for a night out. If you wish to go for a stylish but edgy look, pair a skinny tie with your jeans.

The Seven-fold Tie
This classic old tie is made from a square yard of silk folded seven times. The history of the seven-fold tie is confused. Some say the tie was made by a Lydia Grayson, a Yugoslavian immigrant in the 1920s. It is then said to have stayed through the 1930s and a Mariano Rubinacci says he remembers selling them in the Naples in the 50s. Because this tie doesn’t have a lining, you can make a nice knot with very little effort, when using this tie. This tie would be great for both office and formal occasions. Because it’s made from silk, it is on the expensive side but works fabulously as a ‘special occasions’ tie.

The Four-in-hand Necktie
This most popular and commonly used necktie has a hazy history. Neck scarves on the statues of the famous Chinese terracotta soldiers show a four-in-hand knot, thus showing how far back this knot style goes. The Roman soldiers are also said to have worn ribbons with four-in-hand knots, to identify each other at the battlefield. However, it’s Croatian soldiers who made neckties a decorative accessory. After winning a key battle against Turkey in 1636, the Croatian soldiers wore colourful scarves with the four-in-hand knots, while celebrating their victory. This is how the tie seems to have come into the world of men’s fashion. This one is staple office wear and comes in varieties of patterns, width, colours and materials.

The Cravat
The Croatian mercenaries (yes, them again) in the 17th Century, during the Prussian wars used a scarf around their necks to hold together the opening of their shirts. This style morphed into the cravat, derived from the French word for “Croat”. There is now a dressier version of the cravat, called the ascot that’s often pinned and not knotted. It is used for formal occasions. An interesting fact is that some military uniforms use an ascot in place of a standard necktie. The ascot earned its name by being the choice of neckwear at the Ascot Racecourse in England. Perhaps one to try at next year’s Spring Races!

The Neckerchief
This one originating from ancient Rome was called the sudarium, which means “sweet cloth” when translated from Latin to English. This triangular piece of cloth was used to wipe the sweat off the face and neck in hot weather. They were worn by men around the neck and were made from varied materials like wool, cotton or linen. The scarf became a fashion accessory by the early 19th century.  This versatile piece of cloth can be tied many different ways, anything from the cowboy bib, to the gipsy kerchief style.

The Western Bow Tie
This one is a variation of the classic bow tie. This one is a popular formal wear in some parts of the world but is considered rather casual in most places, owing to the narrow style and unequal lengths of the tie.

With their subtle difference in colours, patterns, fabrics, and size, ties are a huge part of the men’s fashion world. Are you looking to add a little panache to your style? Pick any tie and elevate your look. This tiny accessory can do wonders to your ensemble – and it’s got a history to match too!