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History of the Necktie


The earliest known version of the necktie comes from China's first emperor, Shih Huang Ti, who died in 210 B.C. Unearthed in 1974, the tomb of Shih Huang Ti contained 7,500 life-size terracotta replicas of his famous army. Those thousands of artificial officers, soldiers, and horsemen - carved in meticulous detail - guarded the emperor, and they all had one thing in common - all wore silk neckties as part of their uniforms.

Ties came and went over the next 2,000 years or so. Then, in the 1880s the British military finally decided abandon brightly colored uniforms in favor of garb that made them less easy to shoot at. But they retained their regimental colors on the stripes of the neckties that became part of the new-look uniforms. The Royal Rifle Corps wore rifle green and scarlet ties, while the Artists' Rifles wore black, gray, and red, and the Inns of Court wore green and blue stripes.

In the 1920s, a Paris fashion designer invented the designer tie. He made ties from stylish new materials and decorated them with patterns inspired by art movements like Cubism and Art Deco. These hot-looking new designer ties typically targeted women purchasers, and that still holds true. Today women buy 80 percent of ties sold in the United States, which explains why ties are often displayed near the perfume or women's clothing departments.

Designer ties again made a scene in the 1960s, when designers from London devised the Peacock Look and produced wide, colorful ties in a variety of flowered, abstract and psychedelic patterns. Mod styles were the forerunners of the hippie movement, which often dispensed with neckties altogether, often favoring colorful scarves at the neck, or wearing open shirts with chains or medallions.

Today, designer ties abound. Designers create some themselves, while others are made by manufacturers under licensing agreements. Designer ties are also popular with women, who associate them with high fashion.

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