Nige, rightly, is celebrating cravat heroes in a series of posts (could a calendar be in the offing?). We've had two so far and one common feature is that they are men of mature years who are most famous for appearing on Radio 4. This would be one of the demographics least prized by advertisers. Not usually a consideration for me, but in this instance a clear indicator that the cravat hero may well be a dying breed.
The demise of this distinctive item of neckwear along with its eponymous aging heroes would be a minor tragedy. The cravat has a number of unique advantages, which, as the lawyers say, include but are not limited to the following:
1. The cravat is not as formal as a tie nor as casual as an open-necked shirt. It is surely then the epitome of smart-casual, a mode of dress that's so popular now it can only be a strange oversight that the cravat isn't as commonly worn as a pair of chinos or a sports jacket. What's more it's unisex, when worn by a lady offering a marvelous complement to a monocle.
2. It's exotic and not just any old exotic. Cravat comes from the word 'Croat', denoting a Slavic inhabitant of the Eastern Adriatic littoral. It's at one with the jewel of a city that is Dubrovnik, the string of pearls that make up the Croatian archipelago, the lacustrine pleasures of sparkling Plitvice. Along with overwhelming aftershave and waxed moustaches it also surely forms an integral part of the winning formula that has helped the Balkan playboy cut such a swathe through the bored woman-folk of the Riviera (I'm sure Gadjo will confirm this lesser known fact).
3. It provides a wonderful opportunity to wear extravagantly flowery material, but in a very sensible, understated way. You can participate in the let-it-all-hang-out spirit of hippy paisley but in practice have things safely tucked away around your neck. No kaftan required - rather, an elegant Sunday lunchtime gesture towards the alternative spirit, which will set you apart from the 'squares' down at the club.
4. There's something romantic about the cravat - and not just its links to Balkan lotharios. Brightly-coloured and spotted, it's the neckwear of choice for the bargee, that free-spirit of our inland waterways. I've also always pictured Heathcliff wearing one out on the moor. And it was surely the preferred neckwear of the off-duty Battle of Britain fighter pilot, supping from a dimpled pint pot in a hop-strewn pub whilst charming the local dolly. When you wear it yourself you're sharing in this romantic heritage - quite simply you'll be cutting a dash.
5. It removes any practical justification for the neckerbeard, or as the more sophisticated call it, the cravabarbe. Anything that contributes to the suppression of this mental* excrescence is of value.
Powerful considerations, I think you'll agree. This piece of our heritage must not be allowed to unravel. Do you dare pick up the baton from Nige's cravat heroes? I'm sure there's a classic bit of Tootal out there waiting for you - go on, express yourself.
* I've just learnt that as nasal is to nose so mental is to chin. I always thought wearing a goatee indicated mental issues.