You may be wondering what exactly a cravat is. A bowtie? An ascot? A fancy name for a normal tie? No – the cravat is the father of all of these forms of fashion and looks different from them as well.
The cravat was born from French interest in the military fashion of Croatian mercenaries in the early 17th century. The knotted scarves of those soldiers caught the eye of the French, who brought this fashionable accessory into prominence. Over the centuries, the cravat has morphed into what currently chokes many a man in office buildings today.
To describe the cravat simply, let's look to the good people at Wiktionary: A wide fabric band worn as a necktie by men having long ends hanging in front. They also call it a linen scarf.
As you can see in this handsome picture, it really is a straightforward if somewhat floppy accessory, a wide tie that sits below the collar and covers the shirt below.
If you wish to don a cravat yourself, we recommend this guide courtesy of Tom Sawyer Waistcoats.
Thanks to ABCNeckties.com, Wikipedia & Wikitionary, Heather Horn of The Atlantic, and Tom Sawyer Waistcoats. Thanks also to Wikimedia and Humanitiesweb.com for the Portrait of of Pierre-François Bernier by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, which is in the Public Domain.