School Ties Are a Part of History
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For many men, school ties represent a special time in their lives. Whether they’re from a prep school, high school or an institution of higher education, school neckties are a sign of unity and loyalty in the area of education.
For centuries, a school necktie has been worn by students at every grade level and every type of educational institution. For many people, the concept of school ties might immediately conjure up images of prep boarding schools where the wearing of ties went along with rules, traditions and decorum. Attending an institution where donning a men’s school tie was mandatory usually meant a far different educational experience than for those who were enrolled in a more casual institution.
Fashion historians may disagree, but one story has that the origin of the school tie begins in the early 19th century with a legend in the world of men’s fashion, George Bryan “Beau” Brummel. The famed icon is widely credited with what has become the British look. In 1880, Brummel started the Oxford University rowing club and after one race, he instructed his teammates to remove the ribbons from their hatbands and tie them around their necks in a four-in-hand knot (a classic British knot). Later, he ordered ties made from the same color scheme and thus created the school tie.
While other schools picked up on the idea, the idea of a men’s school tie didn’t really take hold in the UK, until around 1910. During this time, ties became mandatory for most schoolboys and many of them were striped with colors and patterns that designated certain schools. In the 1930s they went into widespread usage in England, along with suits or blazers.
One of the common features of the school tie was the use of color to not only represent the school but the different levels within the school (academic achievement and class). Just by looking at the tie, you could tell the rank, major area of study and possibly even the dormitory of the student.
The school tie idea eventually made its way over to America and to our own prep and boarding schools and universities. In addition to school ties that designated the school, the class and the level of education, there are also schools that required boys and mens neckwear that denoted religious affiliation. For instance, Catholic schools were famous for requiring their students to wear school ties. There may not have been a lot of variety in the ties (most Catholic school ties tend to run to maroon or blue), but they have become an iconic image.
Not only are school ties worn by those currently attending the institution, but by those who have completed their studies and are members of the alumni. Many of the classic institutions in the country, including such schools as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth, feature ties with the school crest that are sold exclusively to alumni members. These school ties feature the institution’s traditional colors and crest.
School ties have a long and storied history and will continue to be part of the cultural landscape.
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