assignment was for the online Costume History course I did in 2001.
Assignment: Neckties in this
period were especially important. Get a piece of light crisp cloth (muslin
or taffeta will work best) about 45" x 6" in size and try
following the wonderfully vague and confusing instructions for tying it
round your (or someone else's) neck. Write an account of what you did, and
how you can really make one look like one of the pictures, and post them
to your site.
Links to Sources:
Directions from The
Drawings observed from Neckclothitania
You can find more cravat instructions of the same styles, from plates of
the same period, in the book Ties by Avril Hart, (p 44)
Having a Go:
Reading the directions and trying to copy
the drawings, I have come up with a few cravats. I used a piece of cotton
muslin with no starch and raw edges. The size recommended was fine, as I
used a wig stand to tie them on. However, I do not believe they would be
easy on a real person. Nor would they work well if the cloth was starched.
I decided 1.) to see if it were possible
to tie any of the ties by following the directions.
2.) to see if these styles could be used
practically in fashions of today.
I found the directions for the stiffer ties
more difficult to understand, because of the old names for the creases and
knots. I do think they would have taken a very long time to get right. I
do not think they would work very well today, as people are more used to
having their necks free.
The softer versions were not hard to make,
however, I know I had far more creases, since I used unstarched cloth. The
drawings were misleading though, since they looked as if the ends after
wrapping were even with each other, when in fact they came to the front at
different levels. Perhaps a drawing showing what the back looked like
would have been helpful.
Nevertheless, I think some of
the resulting ties would dress up some of today's fashions nicely. I have
never been able to get a scarf to look nice, with the methods of tying
that I knew before. I would attempt some of these ties in a soft version
if there was occasion.
Neckcloth at Castle Howard: I recently visited Castle Howard in Yorkshire, and was intrigued with this
find. One area was set up as if it were the dressing rooms for the actors
from Brideshead Revisited, which was filmed there. Next to the
gentleman’s mirror, there was a set of instructions and drawings so he
could arrange his tie.
The tie, pictured here with the jacket, was
fairly stiff, but there were also ‘buttonhole like’ areas which seemed
to be for the purpose of threading part of the tie through.