At Cravat Club, knowing your ruched tie from your day cravat is a way of life. For the uninitiated however, the different terms and subcategories can get a little confusing. Between the subtle differences in accessories, and the multiple terms for similar ties, there can be a learning curve when getting the right details for your outfit.
We know that whatever the technical term for something is, our readers are sophisticated and fashionable gents whom we can trust to dress well. Even with that being the case, it helps to come armed with a little knowledge about what our accessories are and what they’re used for.
It’s with this confusion in mind that we’ve put together this guide; an explainer of the different cravats and ties that are available to perfect your wardrobe. Read on to compare and contrast the different ways of wearing your fine silk accessory…
Ascot Ties and Day Cravats
Firstly, let us address a common confusion. An ascot tie is the American term for what we in the UK call a day cravat. A piece of fabric (in our case, silk) that has a wider “blade” at each end, which is worn loosely tied around the neck.
Generally made of light textiles and designed to be worn in a more relaxed fashion than a tie or necktie, an ascot tie is perfect for finishing off an outfit with a bit of a flourish, or where a more relaxed fit is the appropriate move. Naturally, we are huge fans of these simple and beautiful garments, and all of Cravat Club’s cravats can be classed as day cravats or ascot ties.
There is some disagreement about which term is more suitable for more formal occasions, with this being more of a linguistic quirk than one of actual styling. In any way that matters, a day or morning cravat serves the same purpose as an ascot tie.
What Does a Day Cravat Look Like?
You can determine the quality of a cravat or ascot by looking at a few factors. Well-made cravats show the design on both sides; that is, the design has been positioned well and is not backed using cotton or other materials. The neck band is an appropriate length and width, and has been pleated, pressed and sewn well.
Good quality ones are often made of silk - the more silk that is used, the higher the cost involved in producing the garment. Cravat Club's high quality printed silk cravats are 100% silk with a design printed on both sides, in a nicely-weighted 36oz silk twill.
Also known as Foulard or Serge, we favour a silk twill over a plain weave or other variations, as it's sturdier and can tolerate a bit more wear and tear. Silk twill has a smooth surface with an almost matte appearance, but with a soft sheen that shows up beautifully in different light conditions. These properties of strength and beauty means it's often the preferred choice for high-end designer silk ties and scarves.
Wedding Cravats and Ruche Ties
A Groom wearing a Wedding Cravat
A wedding cravat is a slightly different beast from a day cravat. More formal, made from stiffer fabric and noticeably ruched, the wedding cravat is the more dressed up cousin of our ascots.
While looking undeniably beautiful in their appropriate formal context, it’s probably fair to say that a wedding cravat can give off a stuffy air if not worn with a bit of care. They are fantastic garments however, and when worn at a wedding with a properly matched waistcoat, they do give off an unforgettable image. They are generally tied into a more elaborate knot, unlike the easy fit of a day cravat.
A ruched tie is another commonly-used term for these opulent cravats, which are often seen as part of traditional formal Scottish dress, alongside the famous kilts and sporrans. If you are Scottish, or even have some Scottish ancestry, we highly recommend making an entrance at your next event in this magnificent outfit.
One final note on the Ruche Tie - any of our day cravats can be tied this way. If you need a wedding cravat, but don’t need it to be that specific or specialised, then this is a great compromise. When tied and cleverly ruched, your favourite cravat does the formal double duty perfectly.
Our customer wearing our INDIANA printed silk cravat as a ruched tie on their wedding day.
Ties vs Cravats
A tie, or necktie, will be familiar to anyone who has ever worked in an office, or indeed has ever worn a school uniform. A tie runs the gamut from beautifully tailored to cheap and tacky, and choosing the right tie can really mark someone out as a gentleman of taste.
A tie is visibly different from a cravat, and serves different purposes, but there is significant crossover. While there are occasions where only a tie will do, you may find that there are many opportunities to sub in your favourite cravat, with a little imagination.
A word about tie construction - generally speaking a tie will be of three-fold or seven-fold construction. A 3-fold tie is lighter, and is made of a single piece of fabric that is folded into three sections - this is the most common sort, and all of Cravat Club’s neckties are made in this simple and elegant style. The 7-fold is more elaborate and luxurious, made of a larger piece of fabric that, as the name suggests, is folded into seven panels, giving a heavier and more substantial feel. Each has their following and fanclub, and each gives a slightly different effect. If you would like to learn more, you can read our guide to tie styles here.
Something of a “third way” when you’re speaking about the difference between a cravat and a tie, a Tootal scarf is a classic garment that is impossible to ignore. Tootal is a brand that has made these fabulous scarves their business since the 19th century, and there are many interpretations of this classic style.
Our cravats and evening scarves can be worn in the same manner as a Tootal scarf, simply tied in a knot and draped over the throat, they provide interest, style and flair to an outfit. While it’s a very specific look, it can be a real head-turner if pulled off correctly.
If you’re taken with the look of a silk scarf, but need something less specific than a Tootal, our silk evening scarves might be the perfect thing. The last word in opulence, these hand drawn designs in deep and striking colours give you serious presence, and make a spectacular finish to almost any outfit. Tie round the neck like a Tootal scarf, or simply drape over the shoulders for a stylistic flourish.
Printed vs Woven Silk
One last word on cravats and ascot ties - what you make them out of makes quite the difference to their final feel. Printed silk, because it is only made from a single layer of twill fabric, is very malleable, fairly light in weight and has a subtle sheen. Woven silk, owing to its construction, is slightly more substantial, and the lustrous fibres give the resulting cravat an iridescent quality. Both are of course worthy of attention, but we tend to find that the woven cravat lends itself better to more formal occasions and more traditional patterns, whereas a printed silk ascot is generally lighter, brighter and more playful. However this is by no means a rule, and it is down to the individual wearer to find an outfit that shows off their personal style the best.
Whichever term you prefer, a cravat or ascot tie can be the perfect finish to outfits both formal and casual. Playful but still formal enough to dress for the occasion, a cravat offers you a place to use your imagination and project some personality. Give one a try the next time you wear a collar - you may be astonished at the result.