To most guys, neckwear doesn't come naturally. It doesn't feel natural, either. Other than the occasions in which we wear a roll-neck (Christmas do, 'cool guy' episodes in the office, Steve Jobs memorial etc), the great fleshy connector between brain and vertebra is more a naturist. Even when we're forced into wearing a tie, they're buffered by the stiff collar of a crisp shirt. Necklaces are often loose, sitting shiny on a sternum. But put something a little higher – a little tighter – then we're suddenly hemmed in, uncomfortable, clutching and clasping at this newfound albatross like a sad beagle in a dog cone.
The neckerchief is one such grievance. With its roots in battle, junior sailors that hold breathless women in their arms on shore leave have been wearing some form of black neckerchief ever since the American Civil War. The Scouting Movement too has long favoured a neckerchief, using colour and 'woggles' to connote one's place in the strange crafts-based pecking order (turquoise for Beaver of the Month, brown for Leader and so on). A product of function, then; there to mop a beading brow after manning the cannons or escaping exposure in the Outer Hebrides. Or something.
But what place does that have in 2020? Our invasions of other countries are far fewer these days, thankfully. And at almost 30-years-old, I doubt I'd be that welcome on a Scouts archery weekend. So it stands to reason that the neckerchief be sanctioned to the bin of workwear-that-no-longer works. We can get away with the Dickies trousers because we still sort of need trousers. The same can be said for chore jackets, in which keys and iPhones have replaced pocket knives and a trusty compass as essentials. But neckerchiefs? A mere affectation of menswear, you cry. We are not sailors, or scouts, or Lufthansa flight attendants.
Reason, in this instance however, is useless, or so says Drake. Just this week, the 'Toosie Slide' star teamed a BOYSH! trip to Barbados with a vest, shiny shorts and, lo and behold, a neckerchief – and one presumably fashioned from the national colours of his preferred holiday location. It was standard issue for the travelling party. And, after recently uploading a 'how to' video on fixing spliff burns in expensive yacht carpets on that very same trip (you only need scissors, thread and steady stoner hands) it was all getting a bit dib dib dob dob indeed. Instagram users were admiring of the new move: "my dawg [insert owl emoji and fist here]" said @therealmowgliii; "Woi-oi" said 'unique beverage boutique' @exoticpop".
They're not wrong. Though the neckerchief was briefly co-opted by men that ride fixie bikes and mainline kombucha and never text back, the ascendant trend comes on the back of a slow march from the runway. Ermenegildo Zegna, for instance, dedicated its latest seasonal offering to the great outdoors, and tied up the urban-farmer-from-Milan collection with some tonal neckerchiefs. And for the autumn/winter window ahead, French-Moroccan outfit Casablanca completed its Liberace in Pigalle signature with patterned neckerchiefs in blues, pinks, greens and blues and pink and greens in one.
It is a gilded age of accessorisation. A conservative one elsewhere, yes, but certainly not in menswear. We've got outfits to elevate. New things to try. Plus, given the opening of air bridges to far-flung lands with a heavily discounted RyanAir ticket, brows to inevitably mop. A neckerchief will let you do all of these things at once. And if all this business still feels a little unnatural, and a little constricting: get used to it. Neckerchiefs aren't going anywhere.
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