It is often questioned why such a seemingly useless item of apparel as the necktie was ever invented . It’s thought by some anthropologists that it might have been the first item of clothing ever worn, taking the form of a strip of fur around the necks of our ancestors .
However, the ear-liest evidence of the wearing of neckties was by the Chi-nese . China’s first emperor, Shih Huang Ti, was afraid of death and commanded that replicas of his army person-nel be laid to rest with him for protection . He died in 210 BC, and when his tomb was rediscovered in 1974, the intricately detailed terracotta rep-licas preserved therein each wore neck cloths or ties .
Neckties were also present in Roman times . In AD 113, after one of his victories, the emperor Trajan erected a marble column bearing reliefs that feature thousands of soldiers, many of whom are wearing neckties . It’s thought by some that these soldiers wore neckties to guard against cold weather or to absorb sweat .
While neckties have been around in one form or another for millennia, it was because of the Croatians in the seven-teenth century that wearing them became a statement of fashion . After helping in a victory against the Hapsburg Empire, thousands of soldiers were presented to King Louis XIV in Paris, among them a regiment of Croatian marines, some of whom wore colorful cravats . These embellishments appealed to the French, who had never seen such an article of clothing and who were soon wearing similar cravats . Until the French Revolution in 1789, the French maintained an elite regiment known as the Cravate Royale, and the word “cravat” itself is from the French word cravate, meaning “Croatian ”.
It wasn’t long before the wearing of neckties spread . In 1660, Charles II returned to England from exile and re-claimed the throne that he lost during the English Civil War . He was followed by aristocrats who brought the cravat to England, whereupon it developed into the necktie, became popular and spread throughout Europe, then the U .S . and then the rest of the world .