Contemporary heroes have life easy. They pretty much only have to know how to tie a half-Windsor knot and their heroines always step in to rescue the day if they’ve forgotten or get fumble-fingered. And then there’s that natty clip-on bow tie for formal wear.
Not so the smartly turned-out Regency rake! His valet was under much more pressure to make his master presentable and indeed, even to shine above the rest and be perceived as unique. Instead of a couple of basic ways to tie that already nicely formed strip of silk that’s decorated in a rank suitable fashion, the Regency buck (or at least his man) was expected to be familiar with a far more numerous array of styles in which to tie his length of starched white linen.
The styles satirized in the 1818 The Neckclothitania include: The Oriental, a Mathematical, The Osbaldeston, Napoleon, American, The Mail Coach, Trone d’Armour, The Irish, Ball Room, Horse Collar, Hunting, Maharata, a Gordion Knot and a Barrel Knot.
With so much effort to cover a man’s throat, it was no wonder silly chits would faint at the sight of a bared throat and a few sprigs of chest hair. We take so much for granted with our modern sensibilities.
You can find more information on the Necklothitania with descriptions of how to tie these styles at this site and links to more information about Regency fashion and life on my Regency Resources page.