Cravats



The cravat, introduced in the mid-seventeenth century, is the ancestor of the modern necktie. A long strip of cloth wrapped loosely around the neck, the cravat was one of several items to replace the stiff ruffs worn around the neck in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Legend has it that the origins of the cravat lie with an army regiment from Croatia, a country in eastern Europe, that was fighting with the French during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). The soldiers in this regiment wrapped a long scarf loosely around their necks, supposedly to protect themselves from sword blows. When the Croatian soldiers visited Paris the French were captivated by their neckwear and began to adopt it for their own use.

Early cravats were made of the lace that was used so much in the period, but people soon grew to prefer the softer feel of a linen or muslin (sheer cotton fabric) cravat. They developed intricate ways to fold and knot their cravats. A new style of wearing the cravat was invented in 1692 by French soldiers fighting in the Battle of Steinkirk. Too rushed to tie their cravats in an intricate knot, they simply twisted the ends of the cloth and stuck it through a buttonhole in their waistcoat or justaucorps. This style became known as the steinkirk cravat.

A long strip of cloth wrapped loosely around the neck, the cravat was one of several items to replace the stiff ruffs worn around the neck in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Reproduced by permission of © .

The soft and easy-to-tie cravat was a big improvement on the stiff lace ruffs and bands of the past, and it was worn by both men and women into the nineteenth century, when it was adapted into the modern necktie.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Ruby, Jennifer. The Stuarts: Costume in Context. London, England: B. T. Batsford, 1988.



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