All you need to know about the regimental ties
In common speech, they are usually referred to as striped ties. Usually only enthusiasts know that they are professionaly referred to as club ties, regimental ties, sometimes university ties. For a tie - they boast a colourful and noble pedigree. They are designed and sewn in thousands of variations in colour and material, most often without reference to their historical origins. They are extremely versatile, although contrary to common belief, they are not suitable for every occasion.
Regimental neckties - because their history began in regiments and khaki greens - originated in the British Army. It is difficult to pinpoint their precise moment of birth, it is conventionally considered to be either the late XIX or early XX century. Many point to the custom of wearing coloured ribbons by soldiers of a given unit, for identification and distinction as the beginning of their evolution, . Over time, this tradition evolved into the custom of wearing a tie specific to the unit, although it was more of an officer's habit. Most recognisable to us today are the straight stripes running at 45 degrees, but at the time their variety was much greater; in addition to the traditional lines, zig-zags instead of straight stripes were most often assigned to artillery units, curved lines ("waves") to Royal Navy units. It was common to see symbols or unit emblems instead of stripes.
The First World War, especially the end of it, significantly influenced the adaptation of this type of tie in a civilian environment. Demobilised soldiers and officers, whether out of sentiment, pride or other motives, began to wear their old ties from under their uniforms even after they had retired. However, the custom of wearing this type of tie (not necessarily with a military affiliation), existed in the UK under a slightly different guise - the term 'club' or 'university' tie originates from students of prestigious universities wishing to emphasise their affiliation to a particular alma mater. Invariably however, wearing such a tie has suggested membership of a particular group or community, hence it was considered a slight to appear wearing the colours of a group in question.
However, as is common in the world of fashion - particularly English fashion - these ties were popularised by a member of the royal family, the Prince of Wales, during his visit to the United States in 1919, wearing a blue and red striped tie - the colours of the Grenadier Guards regiment. American designers quickly picked up on the trend, widely popularising striped ties without much regard for their origins or military connotations. It is interesting to note that the English custom is for the stripes to run from left to right ("from heart to sword"), while the American custom is the other way around. Although nowadays military dress is strictly defined by regulations and few remember the origins of this type of tie, it is worth bearing in mind that in Anglo-Saxon countries it is still tactless to wear the colours of a particular unit without any connection to it.
Today, striped ties are one of the most widely available options on the market, most often woven in silk. They can be seen practically everywhere; worn by politicians during official visits, worn for business meetings, and also in the least formal situations which still require a tie. It should be noted and remembered though, that these types of ties are strictly informal - we don't wear them for ceremonies, important or official meetings. They are the type of tie that looks best with so-called "business" or smart casual attire. The great variety of colours of stripes gives us a wide range of possibilities - we can match them with a less formal suit, and preferably with a coordinated outfit. We can most often see stripes in mixtures of blue, navy, maroon and cream contrasts. Although these will go well in colour with dark, plain suits, we should weigh up the occasion. Green, brown and all their shades are much more associated with the English countryside and all its qualities, such as hunting and horseback riding. These less formal colours will certainly work better for the least formal of gatherings.
There are thousands of size configurations of stripes alone - we can find stripes of the same width as well as irregular ones. A noteworthy variation is the "block stripe", a stripe so wide that it looks more like a "block" of colour than a stripe - certainly one of the more daring variations of this tie. We must keep in mind that these are accessories with a distinctive pattern, so it is not easy to match them with other patterns. Everything of course depends on the scale of the pattern in question, both the tie and the rest of your wardrobe, and while it is definitely more difficult to pair such a tie with, say, a checked blazer or a striped shirt. I do not in any way wish to advise you, dear readers, against this but merely to warn you of the difficulty of the task. After all, in keeping with the guiding principle of "less is more", the safest choice is to wear such a tie with a jacket or suit without any pattern.
Regimental ties are simple and classic, at the same time colourful and with character: as much of a gaffe as wearing one to a ceremony is not having at least one in your wardrobe!
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