Of all the decisions I recall making in my recent journey to explore the boundaries of style and what it means to a middle aged man, I think the most challenging has been whether or not to embrace the wearing of a cravat. The cravat, once an easy to wear item of leisure clothing, now has several connotations:
- Will wearing a cravat make one look ridiculously old fashioned?
- Is the cravat (as suggested by Bernard Roetzel in his book ‘Gentleman’) something only a film director, a playboy in a film script, or a military officer at weekends wears?
- In our ‘relaxed’ society where everyone seems now to be dressed ‘casually’ is there a need to define we are in relaxed/casual mode by donning a cravat?
I am, as regular readers will know, inspired by the vintage styles of the 1920s and 1930s, and constantly on the look out for ways to take these vintage images and adopt them to today’s more contemporary style. The cravat, notwithstanding my above hesitations, is so prevalent in that era it naturally became an item I wished to adopt. But why wear one today at all?
As someone who loves to wear a tie I find the exposed neck, when not wearing a tie with an open neck shirt, esthetically challenging. My look always seems incomplete. This is, in my view, where the cravat has an essential role to play. There is a certain elegance at the weekend of wearing one with a Tattersall check or a Oxford shirt and a V-neck sweater, and I have been inspired by some vintage images to even don one with a polo shirt! An open neck shirt and blazer or tweed jacket would have been unthinkable in the past without a cravat – I even recall seeing photographs of World War 2 Battle of Britain Royal Air Force pilots wearing a cravat with their uniform (as the silk does not chaff the neck when twisting and turning the head in a cockpit during air-to-air combat).
My search for a good cravat supplier began with my local traditional menswear store – they stocked a few, disappointingly mainly cotton rather than silk. A check on EBay found a plethora of second hand/vintage, but I am challenged by wearing something next to my skin which has been worn by other people.
Then, by chance, I came across a relatively new British company called The Cravat Club. Founded in 2014 by Julian, an avid lover of cravats, the company produces a range of beautiful silk cravats. Many are a limited edition (some are frankly a little weird!), but there is a wholesome selection of paisley, polka dot, and patterned styles in a range of colours to suit everyone – especially if you like something a little ‘edgy’. Cravat Club now sell in 50 countries around the World.
I ordered a ‘Costello’, from a limited edition of just 50. It arrived in a few days in a beautiful presentation box – something suppliers often overlook as important (especially for storage), as those of us fortunate to own a Hermes tie will attest to, there is something wonderful about keeping beautiful items in elegant packaging.
I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of the silk, and the workmanship. Made in England as well! Once tied correctly (there is an excellent video on the Cravat Club website showing you to tie a cravat here) my cravat stays in place all day.
Contrary to my fears of appearing ridiculously old fashioned, my cravat wearing has drawn many welcome plaudits. An easy return to elegant, not shabby casual, individualistic dressing at weekends and on leave. I would encourage anyone, young, middle aged and old to revert back to this form of dress and help redress the dreadful downward spiral into cargo shorts, flip flops and t-shirts!