Men's neckties from the 1800s, also known as cravats, look only a little different from modern ties in bow shape or knot size. Unlike the lacy jabot or frilly bibs of earlier times, Victorian neckties were the precursors to today's simple ties. They were an essential part of a man's wardrobe and came in many iconic styles. Women also used to wear many of the same tie styles as men. Whether you're interested in 1800s neckties for costumes, such as Victorian or Wild West clothing, or for formal wear, such as wedding clothes, you can easily find a style suited to your tastes and needs. To make your own Victorian necktie, complete the following instructions.
Choose the type of 1800s necktie you would like to make. There are many choices, as different styles went in and out of fashion over the course of the century. If you are looking for wedding wear, you may wish to choose the classic bow tie, Windsor tie or puffed ascot. Costumiers may also choose these styles, depending on the class, geography and profession of the man or woman whose clothing styles they wish to make. Old West costumiers will be looking at string ties, floppy bow ties, cross ties and neckerchiefs. Other types are the Oxford tie, square knot tie, four-in-hand tie and octagon tie.
Find a pattern for the type of tie you would like to make. You may have the best luck looking at historical pattern companies like Truly Victorian and Past Patterns or by searching for modern formal versions of some of the old necktie types, such as wedding cravats. Two such patterns are Burda 3403 and BurdaStyle's classic cravat, linked in the Resources. Some good historical patterns for 1800s neckties are Ageless Patterns' A1472 and the Old West tie patterns from Buckaroo Bobbins.
Choose the appropriate fabric for your tie, taking into consideration historical expectations and the image you would like to project. Fancier ties can be done in silk, the Old West string ties in ribbon, while more common ties should be done in cotton. Neckties were most often solid coloured, particularly black or white, and sometimes featured stripes of green, red, blue, white or yellow over a black background.
Create a test version of the pattern out of scrap fabric, following the instructions on your particular pattern. Make sure that you are familiar with how the tie is put together, then cut and sew the tie using your chosen tie fabric. Finish the tie neatly, and leave no loose threads.
Choose the type of bow you wish to make with your necktie. Some necktie types can only be tied in one type of bow or knot, so be careful. You may wish to find a picture, either on your pattern or through the internet, of the type of bow you would like to tie. Due to the continuing popularity of Victorian-style ties today, there are many sites describing how they are knotted, several of which are linked in the Resources. Practice tying the knot or bow until you feel comfortable.
Determine how you would like to tuck your tie. Not all tie ends were left to hang straight down the centre of the chest. For example, it was fashionable for a time to tuck the ends of the tie sideways into the waistcoat, angling the tie. Test out your tuck to see how it looks.
Many working class men wore no ties at all.
Tips and warnings
- Many working class men wore no ties at all.