How to dress your neck | cravats, bow ties, & pussy bows

Cloth worn around ones neck can be dated back to the 17th century Croatian mercenaries who wore scarves with a unique knot; what we know as the cravat.

Whilst men predominately wore neckties, it was not unusual for a women to wear them. Many variations have developed since then including the ascot or “hanker-tie”, bow tie, the more commonly used necktie and of course the pussy bow.

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Christopher Walken wearing a cravat in Seven Psychopaths.

 

The term “pussy bow” or “pussy cat bow” came about in 1934 as a description for a women’s dress pattern with a four way convertible collar, expressing it as – “an intriguingly feminine pussy cat bow tied high under your chin”.

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Pussycat bow blouse designed by Elspeth Champcommunal for Worth London, 1945

The first designer to incorporate the pussy bow was Elspeth Champcommunal. During her time as house designer for Worth London, Elspeth and the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, promoted their utility couture designs with pussy cat blouses and slim tailored suits. The Gibson Girls were also very fond of the pussy bow.

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Coco Chanel wearing a pussy bow.

The 1950’s and 1960’s were also a popular time for the pussy bow. Coco Chanel adorned them and Yves Saint Laurent gave them a sexy edge with his “Le Smoking” tuxedo. A sexuality that veered away from exposed skin, but was desirable underneath the sharp contours of a perfectly cut jacket and trouser. As the work opportunities for women steadily increased, the pussy bow blouse became a popular choice of attire, giving the fashionable business woman a feminine power suit, to express herself in a once masculine environment.

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The infamous image photographed by Helmut Newtown – YSL, Le smoking.