History of the Tie Rack

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Adornments for the male neck first appeared in Pharonic Egypt, and later in China under Emperor Shih Huan Ti, c. 210 BCE. The Emperor, terrified of what awaited him in the afterlife, desired to take his army with him. His advisors counseled against this plan, recommending instead the creation of a terra cotta army to be buried with him. The Emperor consented, to the relief of his troops, and a scaled down army of some 7,500 soldiers was crafted in exquisite detail including the adornment of each with neckwear of precious silk, rendered in clay and enamels. No account survives concerning the tie rack system used by the Chinese Quartermaster to store these valuable neckwear accessories for his army, but you can be sure that it was not left to chance. Then, even more than now, silken neckwear was a luxury item, and its proper storage was a problem to be solved. As for the individual Chinese infantryman, presumably he had but a single piece of neckwear to worry about, and it was worn about his neck, the original necktie rack, as long as he had a head atop it.

 

Throughout the following centuries, a colorful piece of cloth could often be found worn about the neck of an elite fighting man. Whether a member of Trajan's Legions, a Croat mercenary, or a member of the Sun King's Cravate Royale, the addition of a neck cloth in the regiment's colors served as a silent dare to the idle or bemused to chortle aloud at the otherwise "effeminate" accessory. Again, the only way to remove this emblem of the fighting unit was to first remove the wearer's head a very secure tie rack indeed!

 

It was not until George Bryan "Beau" Brummell, the early 18th century fashion-setter, strolled through the desirable gardens and parlors of London in his deep-blue, well-cut frock coat and buff pantaloons with high leather boots (polished, it is said, with champagne) that neckwear came into its modern form. Unlike the Chinese infantryman, or the Legionnaire, a single necktie was no longer adequate. Beau, it was said, would change his lightly starched, brilliant white cravat thrice daily. Whether this arose from soup spotting or brow-dabbing or staining from the tears of a disappointed Lady, it is unknown, but let it not be said that Beau Brummell made his rounds in a soiled cravat. The tie storage system used by the Original Dandy is unknown, but presumably it was portable and accommodated sufficient neckwear to at least get him through the day. Back in his rooms, Beau was served by a reliable butler who oversaw the toils of his valet as he tended to the care of his entire wardrobe. Again, the tie racks system used by Beau's butler is unknown.

 

Neckwear evolved from the bright white cloud of Beau Brummell to a palate of infinite richness and variety. Ties in the style de jour were to be manufactured in the Plantation fashion of the 19th century, the Black String Tie favored by the Western gentry and riverboat set, up through the apogee of boisterous originality found in the Art Deco rage of the early 20th century. An outlier in respect to grim predictability, perhaps, can be found in the "Regis Philbin Look" of the 1980's of exactly matching necktie to shirt.

 

While neckwear has evolved in terms of color, pattern and even material (for example hemp ties, organic, of course, can be had for those resistant to the pull of convention) the width of the necktie has appeared to have settled in at the 3 to 5 inch range and the length between 50 and 60 inches. Five inch wide ties have not been seen since the Piccadilly Circus days of shoe-swallowing bell-bottoms and Disco Cages. The re-emergence of these laughers is doubtful. There was also a brief period when the very narrow tie, 2 inches or less and often blunted off, was popularized by Frank and the boys of the original Rat Pack. It has been almost 50 years since the fashion world was so constrained. The return of this minimalist approach is awaiting a resurgence of the ultra-skinny lapel.

 

This standardization of the necktie into its modern dimensions has given rise to various efforts to design a suitable necktie rack. Most of these efforts are, frankly, disappointing. Your grandfather's small cabinet with individual drawers for each tie is lovely, no doubt, but suitable only for those with a very small tie collection or for those with a very large closet and a thick billfold. Plenty of idle time to search through the array of drawers would also be required of the customer who fancies this approach.

 

The battery powered tie storage systems bring electric power to a problem that doesn't need electric power. The installation, maintenance and battery monitoring required to keep the system functioning seem to be more than is required for the task at hand. It is a necktie collection we are aiming to store here, not a bottling plant conveyer system we need to shoehorn into our closet! A functional tie rack rather than a technological wonder was the need of the hour.

At the other end of the technology spectrum we find the "little-wooden-pegs-stuck-in-a-wooden-board" approach. This tie storage system is about as advanced as a deer antler, but less attractive and more frustrating. The problem with these tie racks is they don't work. Pull one tie off the rack and its neighbor falls to the floor. Do you want to move the necktie rack to your shirt and suit to select a tie? If you try it with this Wood Tie Rack (that is those racks that aren't screwed to the wall, a particularly annoying sub-type) every necktie you own may fall to the floor. It is a fine system as long as you don't want to actually access one of your ties. It is good as not having a tie rack at all!

 

What else is available for a person who wisely resists yet another battery powered contrivance and has a daily need to select one tie without re-hanging his entire collection? One choice is the technological equivalent of the Golden Mean, or the Middle Path, if you will. It comes in the form of The Original Necktie Butler. This necktie rack holds up to 30 ties without slippage, without wrinkling, without batteries, without installation. If you want to take your tie collection to the natural light of a window so you can make the subtle call for just the right necktie for a particular suit/shirt combination, then you simply lift the Butler off your closet rod and carry it to the window. Not a single tie will be lost en route. This necktie rack takes up a scant 2 inches of closet space- a bit more than a shirt, but less than a sports coat. It is assembled in the USA of wood, chrome and 30 individual matte black triangles, spaced so they will not congregate at one end and bunch up your necktie collection. A quick jiggle and your collection will level itself- no batteries required! A form-follows-function solution to the necktie storage problem that has bedeviled humanity for centuries. Bring an end to all your tie rack woes with the uncomplicated, functional and smart Original Necktie Butler.