Colours and stripes: From a regimental symbol to the british colleges’ “School tie”
Everything began in 1880 in London, at the exclusive Exeter College of Oxford. At that time, almost by chance, some members of the college’s Regata Club, created the first “School Tie”. They tied a red and black ribbon around their necks, following a trend of identification already existing in the military. In fact, specific colours and stripes were proudly worn by every member of a military brigade, creating an identifiable unit. The same word “regimental” comes from the Latin “regime”, a rule or system of order, referring to military organization. So it was that in the early years of the twentieth century, the use of Regimental ties spread like wildfire. Each member of sports clubs at the prestigious colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, wore a Regimental tie. Over the years, a myriad of combinations of colours and stripes of these ties were born.
The American striped ties
In the same years (early 20th century), the Prince of Wales, future Duke of Windsor, made his first official visit to America. On that occasion, he charmed the Americans with his “Dull red & Navy blue” wide-striped tie, representing the Granatieri Regiment, for which the Prince served during the war. They began copying the style and the fashion of the striped ties soared. However, the Americanized version of the Regimental tie, often identified as the “Repp Stripe Tie” has got stripes going from right to left. This is opposite to the direction of the stripes in the traditional British Regimental Tie, which goes from left to right, recalling the military concept “from heart to sword”.
Photo by @gabrielhcohen
According to tradition, it is said that the Americans wanted to enjoy this accessory, without offending the British gentlemen, or being accused of disrespecting them. But there’s another explanation: the American craftsmen cut the ties by putting the right side of the fabric on a work surface, with the wrong side of the fabric facing them, in contrast to the usual British practice of cutting such striped ties. In this way, stripes on ties have the opposite direction.
Wearing Regimental ties today
Even if today, a man can wear a Regimental tie without any particular restrictions, it is always important to remember that this accessory is not only about simple decorative stripes. Each of these stripes evokes every single battle fought with blood, sports and intellectual struggles. Wearing it without a prerequisite of recognizing its affiliation to a civil or military institution is considered being in bad taste, above all in British territory.
Photo by Mr Mats of @when_in_stockholm
In order to avoid unpleasant misunderstandings and above all, to respect the high intrinsic ideal, one can choose to wear a striped tie, without necessarily having any connection with a regiment, like the Italian ones that present a variation in the intensity of the stripes, in terms of their dimensions
When can a man wear a Regimental-style tie?
Traditionally reserved for informal occasions, a Regimental-style tie is perfect for weekends, when socializing in venues or sports clubs. Wearing it is also appropriate during the week for business meetings. With rare exceptions, it should not be worn for elegant evening dinners and is absolutely prohibited at ceremonies.