Cravats for Men

Micheal Cain, dapper in a cravat
If it's good enough for Oscar Wilde....

Few things say "I'm a sophisticated man of the world" than a cravat, even if the sartorial statement is a little hackneyed. Despite this, I'd be hard put to think of a man I know personally who wears a cravat or who would even contemplate wearing a cravat. Apart from my Uncle Dick that is, who is now deceased, bless his paisley silk cravat. Is it just that I don't move in cravat-wearing circles, where the worldly and sophisticated hang out?

As male neck embellishments go, the cravat, though obviously screaming with style, has not been able to conquer the popularity of  the ubiquitous neck tie, at least not in the last hundred years or so. Perhaps this is because the cravat carries just the faintest whiff of effeminate vanity - to wear one requires a modicum of fussing and preening and those silky patterns are just a little bit reminiscent of a woman's scarf. Could it be that there's a perception that cravats for antique dealers, gallery owners and aging theatrical types?

So...? Liberace Museum.
Yet when I think cravat, I think of Hugh Hefner in a red silk smoking jacket, macho Rhett Butler and Laurence Olivier as that sexist bastard in Sleuth. True, there's also Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde and Liberace....but so? Gay and straight men wear neckties too. Besides, men are surely not so paranoid about their sexual identity....ahem?

It's also true that cravats are 'old-fashioned', even a throwback to the Victorian era, yet that hasn't stopped a plethora of other atavistic style statements from acquiring a cool retro cachet. Plus, it could be argued the cravat is classic rather than passe, as it's a style that transcends the merely faddish. No, there may be something else at play here.

I blame the corporate world. The neck tie is straight and narrow. It's serious - there's no mucking around, just down to business. By contrast, the cravat conjures an aura of easygoing relaxation and even clearly says "there's more to life than balance sheets and business". The tie is pragmatic, the cravat romantic and ultimately threatening to the economics driven, corporate worshipping world we live in.

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. A threat?

Of Men and Monocles
Men in Suspenders