Croatia – the homeland of the first necktie


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Neckties, the most ubiquitous accessory in every man’s wardrobe, found its origin in Croatia. Although a tie is merely a decorative accessory, it surely adds a touch of elegance and sophistication. It is a symbol of class and culture which explains why men love to wear them (or at least many of them do). But did you know that the necktie or cravat (in Croatian: kravata) was first worn in Croatia? It became a fashion accessory after the French adopted it, particularly during the Napoleonic war. Today the modern business suit (in Croatian: odijelo) is incomplete without a necktie.

The history behind the cravat or necktie

Croatia and the tie or necktie or cravat

Cravat Regiment in Zagreb by Roberta F. / CC BY-SA 3.0

The origin of the necktie can be traced back to the period of the French War in the 17th century. Croatian mercenaries, who were hired by King Louis XIII, had a piece of red cloth tied around their neck with their costume. This fancy red cloth captured the attention of the King. He was so fascinated by this decorative accessory that he demanded to make it a mandatory accessory during royal gatherings. The name for it – tie or cravat – comes from the French word Croate which means Croat.

Soon it became a part of the Croatian military uniform and piqued the curiosity and interest of other soldiers (in Croatian: vojnici). However, Croatian soldiers wore different types of cloths as neckties ranging from coarse cloths to fine silk (in Croatian: svila). The types of ties worn by soldiers varied according to their ranks. As time went, neckties became an indispensable part of the attire worn in the King’s court.

A fascinating story behind the origin of the necktie

Croatia and the tie or necktie or cravat

True, neckties originated in Croatia. But there is another interesting story behind the origin of the necktie. It was believed that these red coloured neckties were ornately decorated by the wives of soldiers to wear around their necks. In this way, the wives could identify or recognise their husbands from above the hills while they were battling in the valleys below.

Soon the scarf or the red tie became a recognizable feature of Croatian soldiers. It later became the sign of civilization and elegance (in Croatian: elegancija) when it was adopted by the French fashion world. Today neckties have conquered the entire world with its many and varied forms, colours, styles and designs.

1910 ) Kravate - Benjamin Esham (some rights reserved)

Cravat around Arena

Modern-day Croatia celebrates Cravat Day on October 18th to honour one of the most important elements of Croatian cultural heritage. In 2003, the world’s largest mega tie was tied around the Arena in the city of Pula in Croatia. It was known as “A Cravat around the Arena.” It was created by Professor Marijan Busic to promote the cravat as the cultural heritage of the country. This incredibly large tie is 808 m long with a width of 25 m. It has a height of 3.5m and the knot of the tie is 15m long.
The early cravats were quite different from modern-day neckties. However, cravats were popular throughout Europe for more than 200 years. Modern neckties have evolved markedly ever since, with the incorporation of designs, colours, styles, cut, length and so forth.
Now you know that the symbol of dignity, sophistication, success and formality that a tie represents originated from the most beautiful country of Croatia.

Do you like to see a man with a tie, or wear one yourself?

Featured image (on top): Photo by Mira Ćosić / CC01


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