Ah, the cravat. Such a simple word for something that was anything but.
Cravats got their start as little more than a glorified bib in the 1600s. They evolved into something more of a fashion trend and eventually became the modern-day necktie.
In Regency England, the cravat was an essential piece of a gentleman's dress. Most often made of white linen, they could be as long as several feet, and they were tied in a variety of ways, such as the ones shown in the picture to the left.
The trend for cravats became so ridiculous that gentlemen would try to think up new ways of tying them, often resulting in uncomfortable, cumbersome styles. A paper called Neckclothitania was written about it and published as part of a satirical document in 1818.
*Pictures link to the Wikipedia pages associated with each, including copyright information. Cravat image owned by Charlie Huang (cc).