When Did Men Start Using Tie Bars?


Also known as the tie clip or tie slide, the tie bar is a uniquely male fashion accessory. It fastens the tie to the shirt underneath. In so doing, it ensures that the tie hangs perfectly straight at all times and does not get in the way when the wearer leans over a table or a display. In addition, it keeps the tie in place even in gale-force winds. Whereas some tie bars are rather utilitarian, others are beautifully ornate and may also feature membership insignia for fraternal or military organizations.
The tie traces its origins to the cravat of the 1600s. Back then, wearing a colored piece of cloth around the neck symbolized membership in trade groups, military organizations and men’s clubs. Over time, the tie would become an integral portion of the well-to-do man’s wardrobe. The bar’s origin is more obscure but may be related to the pin associated with a properly worn Ascot tie.
It is possible to point to a noted increase in popularity of the actual tie around the year 1850. By 1920, the tie bar came in vogue as a means of protecting costly silk shirts from the damage done by tie pins. This accessory became so popular that advertisers soon vied for marketing space on the narrow surfaces.
Company logos and even business founders’ signatures were engraved and given out to tie wearing employees and customers. Schools and fraternal organizations followed suit. Before long, it was possible to identify a man’s professional, religious or educational affiliations by the tie bars he would wear to work or to formal occasions.
By the 1960s, the rocket-like ascent of the tie bar had seen its apex. Popularity dwindled as fashions relaxed and casual Friday events shook the foundations of even the more formal businesses.
Yet the 21st century shows that the slide is not dead and gone. With the rise of the metrosexual movement, the 21st century dandy has rediscovered this fashion accessory and made it his own. Wearers have demanded more styles, material choices and sizes. Strict protocols have sprung up on the proper way of wearing the bar for certain occasions.
For example, the stylish wearer knows to choose a clip that covers approximately three quarters of a tie’s width; no more, no less. Old-fashioned wearers use the slide to secure the tie between the fourth and fifth button of the shirt. Those with a rakish inclination go for the space between the third and fourth button. Corporate logos are out but steam punk designs, Art Deco styles and plain looks are in. Some wearers have begun angling the bar at a 45-degree angle. This look is not for everyone; if you are thinking of trying it, make sure it does not look like you are trying too hard.
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