Once you have made a Regency neckcloth, you might be interested in learning how to tie it!
Neckclothitania was a pamphlet published in 1818 and illustrated some of the popular ways of tying men’s neckwear at this time. According to the author, there were many ways of tying a cravat and he had only intended “to merely give a slight sketch … of a dozen or so most in use.”
The illustration that accompanied his descriptions is reprinted below.
Way of Folding
Regency cravats were very well starched, so they needed to be folded so they could be placed around the neck without getting unintended creases in them!
After having folded the neck-cloth, and made it of the depth, &c. according to the wearer’s taste, let the two ends be turned over, as in the frontispiece, the right-hand end, to be turned down, the left-hand end, to be turned up. The advantages of following this rule, will soon be discovered. It removes the awkward appearance caused by crossing the ends behind [the neck]; the ends are also by this means brought forward in a smooth and uncrumpled state, and fit to make the knot. It also makes the neck-cloth lay smooth and even behind, a thing which has hitherto been too much neglected – The same care almost should be given to the back as the front part.
Tying a Cravat
The Basic Knot
Obviously, a blue shirt is not quite period, but I have used it so the detail of the cravat tying is a bit more apparent! This knot was made with a triangular cloth (see the Mathematical Tie, below) and took an enormous amount of practise to achieve a look that at least resembled the illustration above. I now have the highest respect for fashionable gentleman!
As far as I can discover, the basic manner of construction of both a Barrel Knot and a Gordian Knot are the same as described above. The main difference between them is that they are arranged differently once they are completed. One is thicker and one is thinner, as seen in the illustration in Neckclothitania.
This basic knot is used in the Oriental, Mathematical, Osbaldeston, American, Trone d’Amour, Irish, and Horse Collar Ties. The minor differences between these ties are noted below.
The Oriental Tie: “…is made with a very stiff and rigid cloth… Care should be taken, that not a single indenture or crease should be visible in this tie; it must present a round, smooth, and even surface…”. The cloth is laid creaseless on the front of the neck and wrapped around so the ends come to the front again for tying in a knot.
The Mathematical (or Triangular) Tie: “is far less severe than the former – there are three creases in it.” It appears that the front face of the cravat that is laid against the neck is deliberately creased in particular places, and that these creases form the major differences between these types of ties. This tie has two diagonal creases from under each ear to the knot, and a horizontal crease at the centre front which reaches to each side indenture.
The American Tie: “differs little from the Mathematical, except that the collateral indentures do not extend so near to the ear [the diagonal crease between the ear and the knot are not as long], and that there is no horizontal or middle crease in it.”
The Irish Tie: “This one resembles in some degree the Mathematical, with, however, this difference, that the horizontal indenture is placed below the point of junction formed by the collateral creases instead of being above.” You can see in the illustration that the front face of the cravat has the two diagonal creases with a centre front horizontal crease below. [It’s all so complicated!]
The Trone d’Amour Tie: “is the most austere after the Oriental Tie – It must be extremely well stiffened with starch.” There is only “one single horizontal dent in the middle” of the front face of the cravat.
The Osbaldeston Tie: “This neck-cloth is first laid on the back of the neck, the ends brought forward, and tied in a large knot, the breadth of which must be at least four inches, and two inches deep. This tie is very well adapted for summer; because instead of going round the neck twice, it confines itself to once.”
The Horse Collar Tie: “It is certainly the worst and most vulgar… It has the appearance of a great half-moon, or horse-collar”. I presume the author refers to the great horizontal crease that goes right through the middle of front face of the cravat, making it look like the collar of a horse pulling a cart. He gives no instructions for how to achieve such a look!
The Napoleon, Ballroom and Hunting Ties are also similar in design.
The Napoleon Tie: “It is first laid … on the back of the neck, the ends being brought forwards and crossed, without tying, and then fastened to the braces, or carried under the arms and tied on the back. It has a very pretty appearance, giving the wearer a languishingly amorously look.” [Now, don’t we all want that!]
The Ballroom Tie: This is laid on the front of the neck first and so “it unites the qualities of the Mathematical and Irish, having two collateral dents and two horizontal ones… It has no knot, but is fastened as the Napoleon.”
The Hunting Tie: “is formed by two collateral [those diagonal ones again] dents on each side, and meeting in the middle, without any horizontal ones”. It could be fastened with a Gordian knot or be crossed over like the Napoleon and Ballroom Ties (as it has been in the illustration).
The Mailcoach Tie or Waterfall: “is made by tying it with a single knot [what I would call half a knot], and then bringing one of the ends over, so as completely to hide the knot, and spreading it out, and turning it down in the waistcoat. The neck-cloth ought to be very large to make this Tie properly”. When the author says large, he probably means both long and wide, as this looks like it goes several times around the neck and needs to be wide enough to create a nice fall at the front. “A Kushmeer shawl is the best, I may even say, the only thing with which it can be made.”
The Maharatta or Nabob Tie: “is very cool, as it is always made with fine muslin neck-cloths – It is first placed on the back of the neck, the ends are then brought forward, and joined as a chain-link, the remainder is then turned back, and fastened behind.” I presume it is turned back over the shoulder, rather than under the arms.
Neckclothitania also gave it’s readers some handy hints on a number of topics relevant to the tying of neckcloths.
When a starched neckcloth is brought home from the wash, it will be immediately seen, that one side is smooth and shining, the other more rough: this is occasioned by the one side being ironed, and the other not. I do it myself, and consequently recommend it to others, that the rough side should be worn outside during the day, but, that, on putting on a cloth for the evening, the smooth side should be the visible one.
Does your cravat come loose from your waistcoat and fly about? Do you need a Regency tie clip?
After the knot is made, take a piece of white tape, and tie one end of it tight, to one end of the neckcloth, then carry the tape under your arm, behind your back, under the other arm, and fasten it tightly to the other end of the neckcloth. The tape must not be visible. This way prevents the knot from flying up, which would thereby shorten the length of the cloth, and in short greatly injure its appearance.
How do you get that very suave “Mr Darcy” appearance?
On putting on the neck-cloth, take that part which is immediately under the ears, with your thumb and finger, and pull it up till it reaches the ear, and continue to make it maintain permanently that position – Nothing displays more mauvais gout [Translation: bad taste], than seeing a cloth forming a straight line from the chin to the ear.
…after the neckcloth is finished, you should pass your finger along the upper ridge, in order to make it lay smooth, and look thin and neat.
Are you struggling to be properly swathed in neckcloth?
Let the front part of the cloth be brought in a line with the extremity of the chin – Nothing gives a person more the appearance of a goose, than to see a long part of the jaw and chin projecting over the neckcloth.
In Elegant Conclusion
Only slightly tongue-in-cheek!
Independently of all these numerous advantages – what an apparent superiority does not a starcher give to a man? It gives him a look of hauteur [height] and greatness, which can scarcely be acquired otherwise – This is produced solely by the austere rigidity of the cravat, which so far, by any means, from yielding to the natural motions of the head, forms a strong support to the cheeks. It pushes them up, and gives a rotundity of appearance to the whole figure [face], thereby unquestionably giving a man the air of being puffed up with pride, vanity, and conceit, (very necessary, nay, indispensable qualifications for a man of fashion) and appearing as quite towering over the rest of mankind, and holding his fellow-creatures covered with the deep disgrace of his disgust.
I need only appeal to any common observer, to prove the veracity of the above assertions – Let any person take a stroll up and down some fashionable street of the metropolis, at the proper time of day, and remark the men who do and who do not wear starchers: What a conscious sense of their own superiority in the former! What a full conviction of their own paltriness and insignificance in the latter!!
What a picture that paints!
The next item in Mr Knightley’s wardrobe is a waistcoat.
To read all of the “MY Mr Knightley” posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.
Sources and Relevant Links
All quotations from Neckclothitania; or Tietania, being an essay on starchers, by one of the cloth – read it free as an ebook on Google. Whilst the frontispiece illustration is referred to in the text, it is not included in this particular scan.
The Regency Neckcloth – this site has full descriptions of the particular ties from Neckclothitania.
Ways to tie an 18th Century Cravat – Jas Townsend & Son You Tube video