An ascot is a type of cravat. A cravat looks like a large, broad bladed necktie. The main difference between a cravat and a normal tie is that the former has two, equal sized paddle-shaped pieces of cloth linked by a thinner section, whereas in the everyday tie the top and bottom ends are of different widths, and the they are joined seamlessly.
An ascot is used to give formal dress a smart, classic appearance. Although cravats are no longer everyday wear as they once used once to be, it is important to know how to wear one properly for those instances such as weddings and other formal occasions when morning dress is required.
Because men generally have few opportunities to wear cravats these days, they may seem daunting. But tying a cravat is really no more difficult than tying a normal tie.When dealing with cravats it is, however, important to be sure that the proper rules of style are being followed, or the risk of social embarrassment is high. This means that a man planning on wearing a cravat must learn a little about their distinguishing features, and how to choose the right cravat for the occasion.
Cravats come in many different patterns and shades, and one of the easiest ways to track down the ideal cravat is by buying online. Online retailers such as eBay offer an impressive selection of cravats of all sorts, including ascots.
Types of Cravat
A cravat can either be a ‘day cravat’ or a formal dress cravat. The two are very similar, but a dress cravat, or ascot cravat, is generally of a heavier cloth and traditionally since it was morning wear it was of a more restrained colour such as grey or even black. Day cravats are often brightly coloured or patterned, and are made from thinner, more pliable cloth.
An ascot is strictly speaking the more formal of the two, and should be worn only with the proper collar. These days however the colour of a cravat is much less restricted. Although ascots are usually solids rather than patterned, they are often chosen to match, for example, the shade of a bride’s gown if being worn at a wedding.
Considering Different Cloths
Cravats traditionally are made of silk, although cotton or even linen may be used. For some cravats, polyester is used. The main determining factor is price, with polyester being a good choice for a cravat that will only be worn occasionally. For those who wear cravats frequently the soft, luxuriant feel of silk cannot be beaten.
Silk cravats can be divided into woven silk, or satin. For morning dress, for use on a formal occasion such as a wedding, satin is often preferred for its brighter finish.
When to Wear a Cravat
A certain degree of mystique has grown up around the wearing of cravats. The fact that they are often associated with morning dress, and therefore were traditionally ‘upper class’, has added to this. As has their association with winged collars, which are themselves fairly uncommon these days.
The Correct Time to Wear Ascot Cravats and Day Cravats
It has already been noted that cravats can be divided into day cravats, which are less formal, and the more formal sort, the ascot. It is worth noting that in the United States an ascot cravat is the informal sort, referred to in the United Kingdom as the ‘day cravat’, whereas in the United Kingdom the ascot cravat is the formal sort, and should only ever be worn with morning dress. A ‘day cravat’ conversely, may be worn at any time during the day or evening, although not with formal evening wear.
How to Wear a Cravat
The most important rule to grasp is that a formal cravat paired with morning dress must be worn outside of, which is to say above, the collar. A day cravat is worn under the collar, like a tie, but a formal, or ascot, cravat is always worn over the collar. In practice, this means that the cravat is not in contact with the neck and upper chest, as a day cravat would be, which probably explains why the ascot cravat is made of stiffer, less pliable cloth.
An ascot cravat is normally worn with a cravat pin. A cravat pin is a long metal pin, often topped with a pearl or similar decorative device. It is used by inserting the shaft into the cravat in order to hold it in place. The manner of inserting the cravat pin ought to be neat and symmetrical, but some wearers adopt a deliberately louche style.
The use of a cravat pin distinguishes the ascot cravat from the day cravat, which is tied more loosely, and worn differently, and does not therefore typically require a pin.
The Different Ways in Which a Cravat May Be Tied
A cravat may be tied in one of three main ways. Which is suitable depends on the type of cravat being worn, and the occasion on which it is being worn. As only ascot cravats are being discussed here, not informal day cravats, these instructions will consider only two of the three ways.
An ascot, or formal, cravat, being worn with morning dress, is tied according to a particular pattern.
Tying an Ascot
Drape the cravat around the back of the neck, as though about to tie a normal tie. The paddles should hang evenly, one on either side of the chest. Cross the paddles over the chest, with the right hand paddle lying on top of the left. Again, this step is as though the wearer is about to tie a conventional tie.
Holding the left hand paddle still, bring the right hand paddle up and insert it behind the left hand paddle at the neck. Let the right hand paddle hang down. This should leave the right hand paddle lying neatly on top of the left, with both hanging down the centre of the wearer’s chest.
Now bring the right hand paddle behind the left hand paddle, with its end pointing across the left shoulder. Wrap the right hand paddle over the top of the centre of the cravat, so that its end is now pointing towards the right shoulder.
Bring the end of the right hand paddle up and insert it behind the neck band again, folding it down the front of the chest smoothly. Insert a cravat pin to hold it all in place.
Tying a Ruche Knot
For those wearers who wish to adopt a more rakish look, it is possible to tie the cravat into a ‘scrunch’ knot, also called a ruche knot. This method was popular in the past and has come back into fashion these days, particularly for weddings, where younger wearers like to display a less formal streak.
For the ruche knot, the first few step are the same. However, instead of then bringing the right hand paddle up and inserting it behind the neck band, pass it through the existing knot, as though it were a conventional tie. Unlike with a tie, where the knot is pulled taut, the ruche should be left loose.
Finding a Cravat on eBay
If you are thinking of buying an ascot, you have a number of options to consider. Given their pedigree as old fashioned morning wear, ascot cravats are astonishingly popular today, thanks largely to their use at weddings and other formal occasions. Many people like to match the cravat colour to a bride’s gown, or a theme, thereby avoiding the traditional grey morning dress cravat.
Thanks to the popularity of cravats they are widely available on the Internet, where online retailers such as eBay offer an exceptionally broad range of colours, styles and cloths. To search for an ascot cravat on eBay, simply enter a search term such as "ascot" into the search bar which can be found on every page of the eBay website. This will bring up a large number of pages full of listings for cravats. You may then refine this search by choosing the type of cravat you require, as well specifying colour or other characteristics. You can study the pictures to choose the cravats you like, and if you have questions about the cravat you can contact the seller. If you need a cravat for a wedding, don’t leave it too long to purchase your cravat online, it may take up to a week for the cravat to arrive by post, so you should take this into account when you purchase your cravat.
An ascot is a formal cravat which should be tied in a particular way and worn in a particular manner. Unlike informal day cravats, an ascot should only be worn with morning dress, and should be located above, or outside of, the collar, rather than beneath it. An ascot should be worn with a cravat pin, or tied in a ruche knot. Despite these limitations, ascot cravats are extremely popular, and are frequently worn at weddings and other formal family occasions.
Traditionally, ascot cravats were made of grey silk. This was of a heavier weave than the lighter, more informal day cravats which are worn beneath a collar. Today, ascot cravats are available in many different shades, and in a wider range of cloths, including polyester. This variety allows cravats to be matched with a bridal gown or theme, and makes them accessible to a wider public. However, finding the ideal ascot cravat can be time consuming. Specialist cravat retailers are expensive, and the high street shops tend to stock only a narrow range. Finding cravats on the Internet is however very easy, with online marketplaces such as eBay offering a wide selection.