It's something every cadet needs to learn quickly when he joins the Navy: how to tie a neckerchief. It may not be his most important skill when things really count, but if he wants to look right in full uniform, he has to nail this down. Cowboys and boy scouts have a different style again (the more common one) and it's all necessary for protecting the neck and, in some cases, the nose and mouth.
The Use of Neckerchiefs
Although the fabric can have a number of uses, the reasons most men no longer know how to tie a neckerchief is because the Boy Scouts decided in the 1970s that it was to be used only as a fashion accessory and worn under the collar. But its original intention was to protect the neck from sunburn - no small duty back in the days before sunscreen! The lack of a neckerchief, after all, is what prompted the derogatory term "redneck."
Turned around, the neckerchief could be raised to cover the nose and mouth when hiking in a dusty or smoky area - Western films commonly show cowboys using a neckerchief like this when driving the cattle. Neckerchiefs are also traditionally worn by chefs - the idea is to prevent gusts of either very hot or very cold air suddenly blowing into the space between the uniform and the skin.
How to Tie a Neckerchief Basics
When just protecting the neck, you can use either a large handkerchief or bandana and fold it into a triangle, roll it slightly so that it will sit more firmly against the neck, and knot it comfortably in front.
Some people prefer to roll the neckerchief completely, even securing the roll with thread to keep it in place. Others prefer to let some fabric hang out for practicality and style. It's completely up to you.
The Navy Style
It's no wonder that the Navy has its own instructions for how to tie a neckerchief, because in this instance, it looks far more like a cravat. And unlike anything worn by chefs or scouts, it's a thin piece of fabric much more like a short necktie than the square of a handkerchief or bandana. The basic tying method involves first laying the neckerchief under the collar and adjusting so that the right end (A) is about two inches longer than the left (B).
- Cross A over B directly under the point of your shirt's V.
- Pull A up and over toward the left and cross over B, forming a loop.
- Then pull it up through the loop.
- Tie a square knot (if you don't remember what this is - it's basically just tying a shoelace knot one on top of the other), making sure that the top of the knot is even with the bottom of the shirt's V.
The ends must be the same length. Don't worry if it doesn't look right the first few times. This sort of tying takes some practice to get right.
Something to Play With
Unlike a tie, or even a cravat, there is no "right" way to tie a neckerchief unless you're in the Navy. If you go looking for pictures of men wearing neckerchiefs, you're going to see any number of styles on display. This is one fashion accessory you can play around with as you like when looking for the style that best suits your look and your needs. Playing with accessories may seem like something just for women, but it's also for the stylish man who isn't afraid to choose his own route.