The history of tie pins begins around the start of the 19th century. The fashion at the time saw gentlemen wearing a variety of scarves. An especially popular style of scarf was the cravat. Made in a selection of materials such as silk, satin, and lace, cravats were difficult to style without a tie pin.
Tie pins – sometimes called stick pins – were fed through the material of the cravat, keeping it in place throughout the day. The materials used to make cravats were expensive. This meant that ensuring they stayed still was important. Being expensive, cravats were typically worn by upper class gentlemen, and so many tie pins were crafted from fine materials. Precious metals were usually used to create the pin itself. Decoration was added in the form of pearls and other gemstones. Some surviving examples of tie pins even feature precious stones like diamonds and emeralds.
During the Victorian period, some cheaper materials were also used to hold ties in place. Silver or gold safety pins were frequently used in place of tie pins, being less expensive and more subdued than the tie pin. In America, however, the tie pin flourished. Around 1870, tie pins and cravats took off in America, becoming the latest fashion from across the pond. This meant that tie pins were produced en masse, using cheaper materials to be more readily available to the general public.
Towards the end of the Victorian period, around the start of the 20th century, cravats fell out of fashion. In their place, longer, thinner ties that more closely resemble what we call ties today rose to prominence. For these ties, tie pins were not always the best choice when it came to accessorising and styling. Not only did these pins lie too close to the body on a long tie to be comfortable, but they also left holes in the material of the tie. Enter the tie clip. Tie clips – still used today – attach the tie to the shirt without leaving any holes in either. Usually more restrained than tie pins, the design of tie clips is often a plain metal or similar material.
In recent years, however, there has been a significant resurgence in vintage and antique clothing. The changing styles of our times dictate that fashion is a very fluid thing, and as such, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a tie pin as a lapel pin, or a ladies brooch, or even attaching one to a chain and wearing it as a pendant.
With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks for how to wear a tie pin.
How to Wear a Tie Pin
Most tie pins have the elongated pin, with a design of some kind at one end, and an encased pin prick at the other. If you were looking to wear a tie pin on the lapel of a jacket, you need only unsheathe the pin, weave it through the fabric of the lapel, and secure it with the casing around the sharp end.
If you want to wear a traditional cravat with a tie pin, here’s how. Wrap the cravat around your neck and style the ends as you wish. Once you have your cravat in position, slide the pin through the fabric, ensuring it has pierced multiple layers of the cravat so that it holds the material in place. Be careful while doing this, and avoid letting the pin get close to your skin.
Beyond this, tie pins can also be used in a similar manner to safety pins. For example, a tie pin can be used to hold a ladies hat in place. In their prime, hat pins were much longer than tie pins, however, hats are much smaller now, and so tie pins are still an appropriate way of stabilising accessories.
Tie pins have had a long history, and now they are still finding ways to serve a purpose in the age of technology.