10 Facts About a Cravat

Written by danielle olivia tefft
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10 Facts About a Cravat
A modern-day gentleman wearing a cravat. (Digital Vision./Valueline/Getty Images)

A cravat is a short, wide version of a tie worn around the neck, either over or under the shirt collar. There is archaeological evidence of the use of such neck cloths over 2,000-years-old, but one modern group of people take the credit for the invention of the neck cloth. Since then, the cravat's use has spread worldwide.

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The Chinese

In 210 B.C., The mighty first emperor of China, Shih Huang Ti, was buried with an army of terra-cotta clay soldiers, all wearing neck cloths. It is believed that his advisers convinced him to have the 7,500 life-size clay soldiers buried with him instead of actually having his entire army killed and buried with him. The neck cloths represent the prestige and honour the clay soldiers had in guarding their emperor through eternity.

The Romans

In A.D. 113, the Roman emperor and great military leader, Trajan, commissioned a marble pillar carved with 2,500 soldiers, many wearing neck cloths. The pillar commemorated his legion's victory over the Dacians, a people who lived in what is modern day Romania. Trajan's soldiers were uniquely honoured by the wearing of the neck cloths. The fierce fighters were above the reproach of ordinary soldiers and citizens of Rome who considered neck cloths to be unmanly.

The Croatians

The Croatians take credit for the first officially recorded use of a neck cloth in the early 17th century by a poet in Dubrovnik. Seventeenth century Croatian soldiers adopted the cravat for their official uniforms. The Croatians consider the cravat to be the original ancestor of all modern ties and neck wear. In 2003, they made the largest cravat in the world and tied it around a sports arena in Croatia.

The French

The Croatian military's cravats were so admired by the French that they sparked a 17th-century fashion craze among the military and nobility in France. It is believed the word "cravat" was derived from the French word for "Croat." Napoleon always wore a black cravat, considered the official neck cloth colour of the French military at the time.

The English

In 1660, King Charles II introduced the cravat to England, sparking a long term love affair with the neck cloth among English nobility. Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, English gentlemen wore cravats of the finest silk or lace. In modern England, the ascot is a form of silk cravat worn only at formal occasions.

The Americans

The word "ascot" means any cravat in America, not a particular type as in England. They are interchangeable words in American vocabulary. Cravats are worn mainly by military organisations in America. Today, male actors like Brad Pitt and sports personalities like David Beckham are seen from time to time wearing cravats, but they are not a widely popular fashion accessory among American men.

Other Countries

In Turkey, the word for a cravat is "kravat." The word can mean a neck tie or a wrestling headlock there. In Germany, the word for a cravat is "krawatte." In Spain, the word for a cravat is "corbata." In Italy, the word for a cravat is "cravatta."

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