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It's the Ties that Blind: Four Necktie Risks & the Nine Classiest Ties

Just in time for the holidays, when the gift of yet another necktie inspires groans of appreciation by men across the land, comes's more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know lesson in neckties. This includes a brief overview of the origins of men's neckties, the four risks of wearing neckties, and then the world's nine classiest neckties!

Croatia: The Necktie Motherland

The necktie first debuted in 1636 as a result of a war.

Scientific studies have (really!) demonstrated that the width of ties over the years corresponds almost identically with the length of women's skirts. It is unknown which may be the cause and which the effect.

In a celebration of its hard-fought victory over the Ottoman Empire, a group of soldiers from Croatia visited Paris. They were presented as heroes to Louis XIV, who was known for his love of fashion, and they happened to be wearing brightly colored handkerchiefs made of silk around their necks. He loved it, and from that moment on the necktie fetish took off.

Soon, the style reached England. Eventually it escalated to where no "sophisticated" man considered himself "well-dressed" if he was not wearing some sort of cloth around his neck. And the more decorated the cloth was, the better (see the nine neckties below for how far this concept has come!) Some of these neckties, known as cravats, had adornments such as:

  • Tussled strings
  • Tufts and bows of ribbon
  • Lace
  • Embroidered linen

Apparently, the men back then were extremely confident.

So why have neckties lasted this long?

At many times throughout history, fashion historians and sociologists claimed the popularity of ties would die, as neckties provide absolutely no function unlike most other garments. But though there has been ebb and flow over time in their popularity, they have never died. Now, after a "business casual" work environment that hit an extreme in the 1990s, it seems they are again increasing in popularity with men.

The most prevalent theory on why ties just keep hanging around (couldn't resist the bad pun) is that, as long as the big-wigs keep wearing ties as a sign of their wealth and stature, so will the young hopefuls who follow them.

Since it looks like neckties are here to stay, therefore, you should be aware of ...

Four Necktie Risks and How to Avoid Them

1. Don't Wear Your Necktie Too Tightly

You should refrain from wearing your neckties too tight, as this may result in serious health problems.

Researchers have conducted experiments attempting to prove that too-tight neckties may increase the risk of glaucoma. Such researchers claim that tight neckties constrict neck veins and can produce a sudden, mild increase in eye pressure, resulting in cases of glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, as it afflicts at least three million Americans.

Also, raised blood pressures in the eyes can lead to damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision. This is because such pressure squeezes and harms the optic nerve, which carries visual signals from the eye to the brain.

Wearing a tight necktie during an exam with the ophthalmologist may also temporarily raise intraocular pressure, possibly resulting in false readings.

One doctor noted, "When I measure someone's intraocular pressure, I tell patients not to hold their breath because we know that can cause a (short-term) rise in intraocular pressure. And that could influence how these levels are read and the decided course of treatment. Wearing a necktie seems to fall under that same category."

A good rule of thumb worth passing along: If you can't get your finger in between your neck and your collar easily, it's too tight!

2. Duck and Weave to Avoid Your Doctor's Bacteria-Ridden Necktie

In a study, researchers analyzed the neckties of 42 doctors, physician's assistants and medical students at a hospital. The ties of ten hospital security guards were also included in the analysis.

It was discovered that nearly half -- 47.6 percent -- of the neckties that belong to the doctors contained germs that can cause illnesses such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Further, the odds of a doctor wearing a necktie harboring pathogens were eight times greater than that of security personnel.

Therefore, before your doc leans over you to inspect your eyes, ears, etc., kindly ask him to tuck his tie in and to refrain from brushing against you with it, as it is a likely carrier of bacteria and other germs. Otherwise, and rather ironically, your doctor could be passing an illness on to you.

If you are a physician or other healthcare worker, meanwhile, "first do no harm" by:

    • Either not wearing a tie, or making sure you wash it regularly. Or try bringing the bow tie back into fashion!
    • Wash your hands very often, as touching your tie as many inadvertently do and then touching others (or your own face) is an easy way to pass along germs

3. Don't Jump, Stoop, Twirl or Skip While Wearing a Tie Near Elevators

It has probably passed at least once through the mind of any man who wears a necktie and routinely uses elevators: "What could happen if my tie got caught in between the elevator doors?"

There are two sets of doors on any elevator, of course -- one set that goes up and down with the elevator, the other set that stays put -- so what could happen if a tie gets caught in between the doors is not exactly pretty.

According to the report, "Deaths and Injuries Involving Escalators or Elevators" by Michael McCann, Ph.D., CIH (The Center to Protect Workers Rights, 3/2004), accidents involving elevators and escalators kill about 30 people and injure another 17,000 more yearly in the U.S.

Most of these injuries and fatalities are from falls (please always look before you step into an elevator to make sure the elevator is really there!) A significant portion, though, are from getting parts of the body trapped in between elevator doors or in the moving parts of escalators.

While specific garments associated with the accidents are not cited in the study, it is quite conceivable that, because ties dangle and flap more than most other clothes, they are culprits in some of the accidents.

Bottom line: Don't let your necktie flap and dangle near any open elevator doors ... or anywhere else it might get grabbed or snagged. Or at least wear a tie tack.

4. Stop Giving Men the Neckties that They Don't Want

Paisley. Stripes. Solids. Plaids. Enough already!

Don't risk giving him the gift of another boring necktie he has to force a cheery smile for, but doesn't really want.

Ties have come a long way since the Croatian soldiers wore those handkerchiefs around their necks back in 1636, and now there are ties to fit any man's personality and taste. Take, for example, the Elmo necktie you see below, which is perfect for that rare man who still acts like a child.

Check out all of the following "classiest" ties, and click on any one of them and then scroll down on the page and click "ties" to see many more. You're sure to find one to fit any man's personality and bring a smile to his face this holiday season ... just remind him not to wear it too tightly and to watch for those elevator doors.

The World's Nine Classiest Ties

(click on any "Order Now" button below for more info on the tie, and to find other ties too!)

You May Need a Little "Help" Tying This One:
This Beatles Album Cover Tie

Order Now


For the Boy Inside Every High-Powered Businessman:
The Elmo Head Tie

Order Now


The "Everyone's Squinting at Me" Tie:
Eye Chart Necktie

Order Now


It's Time for Tee:
The Golf Tie

Order Now


Keep Your Motor Runnin':
The Harley Davidson Tie

Order Now


Perfect for Health Nuts:
Jelly Beans Necktie

Order Now


The Whole Community Will Notice Your Chest:
The Monopoly Necktie

Order Now


Dare to Be a Knucklehead:
3 Stooges, Moe Necktie

Order Now


For the Modest Man:
Superman Lightning Tie

Order Now



History of Neckware

Neckties, History of Neckties & Ties
Croata Online, 1997-2003

Michael J. Landman, 1997
Tie Yourself in Knots

WebMDHealth, July 28, 2003
Tight Necktie May Boost Glaucoma Risk

Tight Neckties Boost Glaucoma Risk
News in Science, July 29, 2003

Effect of a tight necktie on intraocular pressure
British Journal of Opthamology, August 2003

Tight neckties increase risk for blindness, experts warn, July 29, 2003

Deaths and Injuries Involving Escalators or Elevators
The Center to Protect Workers Rights, March 2004

Doctors' ties 'spreading disease'
BBC News, June 5, 2003

Doctors' Neckties Carry Germs, June 4, 2004

Microbes hitch a ride on doctors' neckties
Diagnostic Imaging Online, June 3, 2004

Amazon Necktie Homepage

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