Category Archives: Ties

The Invention of the Necktie


London, England, circa 1776. And English “Lord” with a rebellious son in New York – Brooklyn as a matter of fact (or fiction – the accounts vary) was troubled. Torn between loyalty to his son and fealty to his king.

So torn as he was between fealty and loyalty – his son may have been a signatory to the Declaration of Independence – this Lord, who shall remain nameless, retreated into madness. He began to wear gowns in his wife’s closet. This, by the way is the origin of the phrases “out of the closet” and “closet Queen,” which was originally “Lady of the closet.”

He recovered from his madness and chose loyalty to his son over fealty to his king and was compelled to leave London in haste.

He also understood that kilts were one thing, and more out of place in New York than in London, and ladies gowns on men quite another. The “New World” may have been radical in its approach to the rights of (white) men, it was not in its approach to the roles of men, or their dress.

So he took a knife and cut off two inches of the lower hem of the favorite four of his wife’s gowns – two of which had his crest in a swirling teardrop of bold green and yellow – he was the Earl of Paisley. He tied one around his neck in what has become known as the Windsor knot, and left England.

Upon arrival he reunited with his son, a young Captain in Washington’s command. He was able to counsel Washington on British strategies until captured by Cornwallis, and hanged by his tie – which thus became a symbol, like coffee, of American Independence.

A true story. Or truly a story.

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