For many men, choosing a tie may seem like a very simple task – anything goes, after all, a suit that requires a necktie is bound to be elegant, right? Well, not quite. As much as it may sound good and easy in theory, that is hardly the way it goes in practice.
A tie can turn a regular combination into something incredible or, if chosen incorrectly, spoil the entire look. That happens because, while suits are usually black, gray or navy blue, and the vast majority of shirts tend to be of discrete tones, it is up to the tie to give the final and probably the most remarkable touch to the style.
Hence, it comes as no surprise to see a myriad of options out there when looking for the perfect tie to wear: a variety of colors, patterns, textures and shapes that may be great for those who know what they are looking for, but turn into a headache for anyone who wants to solve things quickly.
Among this whirlpool of neck-wear styles, the cravat tie and the ascot tie are two of the most common terms you will encounter when diving deeper into the world of men’s formal-wear. Therefore, we have prepared a guide on men’s ascot tie, shining a light on the difference between the two as well as showing you how to tie them.
Cravat vs Ascot
Confusion often arises over the meaning of the two terms: so, what is an ascot? And better yet, what is the difference between that and a cravat?
Think of a cravat as the seed of all neckwear. It dates back to the time of King Louis XIV who, inspired by Croatian mercenaries, popularized the idea of essentially wearing a piece of cloth around one’s neck. It incorporates all styles of neckwear – from regular ties, scarves, bow ties and ascots.
An ascot tie, on the other hand, is a specific type of cravat developed in the 19th century, whose name derives from the famous Royal Ascot horse race in Great Britain where a man’s morning costume often featured a loose cravat. The very way men chose to wear this particular type of cravat – tied just below the collar – is what made it unique and less formal. In other words, where you place and how you tie the cravat is what makes it an ascot.
But more than sharing aesthetic similarities, the confusion within this cravat vs ascot duality lies on the fact that both terms become synonymous to the laymen when used interchangeably. But so long as you remember that the cravat is the seed of all neck-wrapping garments and that it is more formal than an ascot, you shall be able to distinguish the two.
Still, to make it easier, let’s summarize it:
- The term “cravat” can refer to a bow tie as well as an ascot tie or any neck-wear;
- Due to their placement and the way they are tied, ascots convey a more informal aspect to the look than regular cravats;
- Although tightly linked to, cravat styles go beyond ascot ties, bow ties or regular ties.
How to tie an Ascot
One can get frustrated when tying a cravat and since we believe in keeping things simple, we thought we’d show you the basic way to tie a men’s ascot tie – the traditional ascot knot. Here, you are free to choose how to wear the pleads, so long as they overlap the knot and keep it tight.
- First and foremost, open a few buttons on your shirt, place the ascot around your neck and bring the ends together onto your chest, making sure that the right tip is around three inches longer than the left one.
- Next, bring the right end over the left end, adjusting it so that the pleaded part will be a part of the actual knot and securing that bit tightly.
- Throw the longer end back around the shorter end, up through the back of the knot where your finger holds the pleated part, and down to the front.
- Tuck the ascot inside your shirt and open/close the buttons according to your liking.
- Once the knot is set and the ascot tucked in, adjust the tightness so it fits the look you are looking for. Usually, the two most common ways are to either leave a fair share of the material popping out above the shirt’s collar in casual fashion or enclose it all so as to formalize the look a bit.
Things to Keep in Mind About Ascots
For those who are used to wearing ties, many things go without saying. Nonetheless, ascot ties can be quite particular in their own way, so we thought we would leave you with some extra tips on how to wear an ascot.
Don’t close the shirt all the way up
This pretty much goes without saying but you should never close all of your shirt’s buttons when wearing an ascot. Ideally, you would want to consider which shirt you are wearing and then decide whether you will open one or two buttons – never more, never less.
Stay away from cheap or rough materials
If you care about the way you look you should care about what kind of fabric touches your skin. Differently than many necktie styles that go around and under the shirt’s collar, an ascot is in direct contact with your skin. That is why the material becomes important – you want something comfortable and soft that doesn’t harm your neck.
Therefore, opt for fine weave silk as opposed to the stiff silk counterpart, and eschew from woven silk since it tends to scratch and itch your neck and face, especially if you keep a beard.
Avoid interlining unless going for a formal look
One of the hallmarks of ascot ties is the fact that they exhale casual. Hence, keep it simple and avoid ascots with interlining. Unless, of course, you are aiming for a more sophisticated look.
Be aware of hot weather
The sheer thought of wearing any kind of cravat when it is hot already feels counter-intuitive and slightly. When it comes to ascots, one has to keep in mind that silk, particularly lower quality, may well bleed under higher temperatures. Here, you can either go for another choice of garment or wear an undershirt.
Dress shirts and collars are a must
There is no going around it – ascot ties are bound to be worn with long-sleeved shirts and a collar, regardless of style or color. Please don’t try to match it with a polo shirt or even a short-sleeved dress shirt. They simply don’t go together.