At some point, every father has received a card and a necktie as a Father’s Day gift. They are actually the gifts with the most history and honor we can give. It is said, that the very first Father’s Day card was given in Ancient times, when a young Babylonian named Elmesa wrote on a clay tablet, wishing good health and long life to his father. The first neckwear for men might have developed soon after that in Ancient Egypt.
FATHER’S DAY HISTORY
On Dec. 6, 1907, there were two horrific explosions at the most updated coal mine of it’s time. It was a shock to the nation. The explosions, fires and toxic gases killed at least, three hundred and sixty two men and boys in what is now known as the West Virginia Monongah Mining Disaster. It was, and still is considered the worst mining disaster in American history. Several months later, on July 5, 1908, Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton of Fairmont, W.V., organized the first US observance of Father’s Day. The first Mother’s Day had been celebrated that same year. Mrs. Clayton wished to celebrate the lives of the fathers and bread winners who were killed in that disaster, which left over 250 widows and more than 1,000 children fatherless. A beautiful event was prepared, unfortunately, at a 4th of July event in the nearby area, a teenage girl died in a hot air balloon accident. The sad event over shadowed the celebrating. The Father’s Day holiday was not registered, nor was Father’s Day celebrated again until two years later on June 5, 1910. Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington arranged a celebration that honored fathers. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis, who established Mother’s Day, but failed to get the Father’s Day holiday into effect because the events were too close together to keep supporters energized. Sonora wanted to honor fathers, especially those like her own father, William Smart, a civil war veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. Sonora was sixteen.
Father’s Day has been an established and honored holiday ever since.
NECKWEAR AND NECKTIES DO REPRESENT MEN
AND THE MALE EGO
The most popular gift for Father’s Day has been the necktie. Though out history, neckwear has been a symbol of power and importance. Here’s the proof:
It appears that the first symbol of prestige and power was demonstrated when Ancient Egyptian men adorned their necks with metal and precious stones.
In 113 AD, 3 different styles of neckwear adorn the 2,500 realistic figures on a marble column erected by one of Rome’s greatest emperors and a military genius, Trajan. Ancient orators of the time were also said to wrap cloths around their necks to warm and protect their vocal cords.
China’s first emperor, buried in 210 BC, was desperately afraid of death. He wanted to slaughter an entire army to accompany him into the next world. His advisors successfully persuaded him to take life size terra-cotta statues instead. After careful examination of the detailed clothing of these stone soldiers of honor, it has been determined that they are all different, except they are all wearing what appear to be silk neck scarves.
Silk ties on honor were worn by soldiers of Louis XIV of France around 1660. Soon afterwards, other French soldiers copied the look, using muslin, embroidered fabrics, silk or lace. The look soon became known as the cravat and was fashion, showing up all over Europe, England and the U.S.A. Lace was needed every where, but because of strict trade regulations, lace smuggling became an international pastime. All kinds of fabrics were used for cravats, cotton, plaids, silks, ribbons. Some neckwear was so thick it was able to stop a sword trust. According to The Neckwear Association of America, to touch another man’s cravat was a catalyst for a duel.
In 1784, Beau Brummel, the authority in English fashion, embraced the “neckcloth” as a symbol of individuality and self expression.
Just before the 19th century, a young prizefighting, trend setter, named Jem Belcher started wearing a blue silk bandanna covered with white spots containing pale bluebird eye centers. Soon working class Englishmen by the thousands were wearing them. Only rich colonists wore cravats made of lace. By 1840 the word used was not cravat, but “tie”. Bandanas became popular with cowboys and British sailors. The sailor suit worn in the mid 1800, with its tie, probably had the greatest influence on the future of fashion, in general.
Early in the 19th century, George Bryan created what was known as the “British Look”. It was a simple, well-cut tailored dark blue tailcoat, buff colored pantaloons and waistcoat, a clean white neckcloth, with black boots. He was adamant about the cleanliness, light starch, and pressing of his white cravats, sometimes changing them three times in a day. The look of its time was the forerunner of the dark business suit and clean sportswear casual look of today.
A Cricket Club at Cambridge picked the first sports colors to represent them and designed blazers, caps and ties in 1845. By 1880, ties were used as uniforms to show social superiority and education or to proclaim allegiance to a group. Where it was hot, like on plantations, superiority was shown by tying ribbons around neck, rather than a fabric tie. The string ties then when west. The Bolo tie, common in the Western USA, was introduced in the late 1940’s by silversmith Victor Cedarstaff of Arizona.
After WWI, hand painted ties gained popular acceptance. In the 1920’s, Paris fashion designer, Jean Patou, invented the “designer tie” showing the latest art of the day. It was targeted for women, to buy for men. Designer ties became even bigger in the 1960’s.
In 1936, the Duke of Winsor simplified the tie knot by inventing The Winsor Knot. It is still the most popular tie knot. Ties have been skinny and ties have been fat. They have been many fabrics and shapes. They have been worn with clips, brooches and pins, and without.
The fad of the turtleneck shirt was started in the 1920’s by British writer Noel Coward. It is considered by some as “the anti-tie”. It became popular is USA in 1950’s-60’s.
Whether they are called cravats, jabots, bandanas, bolos, ascots, bows, kerchiefs or neckties, they are closely linked to the male ego and how a man wants to be seen by others. They are a proclamation of one’s status, occupation and even identity or allegiance to a group or cause, like your favorite sports team.
When your woman or family pick and present a tie for you, it is a demonstration of their honor to you. So try to be excited about that gift of a card and tie.