Monday, November 10, 2008

All About Ascots & Cravats

I'm excited to report that there is some evidence that the Ascot, (or Cravat) is beginning to make a comeback. I'm not referring to those pre-formed frilly ones you see in tuxedo formal wear shops. I mean the kind a refined, distinguished gentleman would wear with a nice crisp dress shirt. I've long been a fan of ascots, dating back more than twenty years ago when I lived in England. I always felt they looked so elegant and civilized, never pompous or arrogant. I've been wearing ascots on and off for the past ten years, and more recently have begun regularly wearing them to most social events. It takes a certain confidence in oneself to pull it off. The good news is you'll never "see yourself coming and going" wearing an ascot, they are few-and-far between. Now some might say I am a bit eccentric for wearing ascots, I prefer to call myself "individualistic".

Wearing ascots is not for the faint at heart- I've endured my share of sneers and quiet ridicule from the occasional Philistine or uncouth slob from time to time. I interpret such behavior as jealousy or insecurity on their behalf. However the majority of the time when I wear an ascot I receive compliments from all kinds of people who find it a refreshing look in an otherwise bland landscape of menswear.

My Ever-Growing Collection of Cravats & Some History
As of today I have 15 ascots, with a burning desire to acquire more. A bit further down I'll show a few close-up photos of these.
Cravats became popular during the early twentieth century as casual wear and even as sports wear by golfers. The Duke of Windsor was often seen wearing ascots, and he was the height of style in Europe and America at the time. During the mid to late 1960's ascots/cravats were also popular with teenage and young adult males as an expression of mid-century modern fashion, often with psychedelic patterns. This craze led the creators of the cartoon series Scooby Doo to draw Fred Jones wearing an orange ascot.
Up Close: My Personal Collection of Ascots:

above: the first group of colors, from red to navy blue...

above: the second group, from blue to black.
The Ascot...It's Not Just For 90 Year old Englishmen Anymore!

above: David Beckham wearing an ascot (here with wife Victoria Beckham)

above: The great Al Pacino as "Michael Corleone" in The Godfather

above: Jeremy Piven, the Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actor dons an ascot.
above: Andy Garcia as Terry Benedict in Oceans 12

above: Michael Johns, former American Idol finalist wore an ascot on one episode.
above: George Clooney, looking very retro with a pencil-thin moustache and an ascot.
above: Rick Rockhill, The Palm Springs Savant. Ascots are my signature accessory.
The Ascot Emerges in the US Once Again...

Brooks Brothers, the great bastion of American style and traditional clothing is featuring ascots once again on its website, catalog and in stores. After several years of writing to Buyers in department stores and specialty clothing shops like Brooks Brothers, they are starting to emerge here and there. Should one of the Buyers from Brooks Brothers happen to read this, I send you my utmost thanks! Of course, I've been wearing ascots for years, trying to single handily bring them back in fashion here in the US. A good ascot looks casually elegant, can be worn to dress up jeans, with a suit, or can be worn formally. They are a nice alternative to a tie, you can look nice without the top shirt button closed as you would to wear a necktie. They also conceal chest hair- if you are wearing a dress shirt open and don't want to look too informal.

above: these photos are from the Brooks Brothers website featuring ascots.
"How Do I Wear One", You Ask?
Since there seems to be some renewed interest in ascots/cravats, I scoured the Internet to demonstrate some of the different ways to wear them. Just wrap it around your neck and tie a half knot. To make it look a little more full, you can tie a four in hand knot- just don’t push the tie through the knot. This will provide some padding under the cravat so it will ride higher, especially if its is a thin silk material.
Handy Instructions on How to Tie an Ascot or Cravat:
And this one too:

Below are the four different ascots Brooks Brothers has on their website. I think you can click on these photos to see more detail. Which one do you like best, considering the ones I already have? (see photos above)

above left: Orange, above right: Brown

above left: Gold, above right: Burgundy
So which ascot should I buy next? Please leave a comment and indicate your choice by color. Thanks!
-Rick Rockhill


Mona said...

Rick? making fashion statement?

ochre for dark suits & brown for light colored.

Anonymous said...

how utterly charming. I vote for the orange one. I need to get my husband to try wearing one now, I'll have to show him this post.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

personally i think you look dashing in them rick! of the ones you have my favorite is the pink and red one. of the ones you asked about, i like the burgundy. style? you bet!

smiles, bee

lime said...

they certainly look more comfortable than a necktie since it seems they are tied a bit more loosely and the shirt is worn open at the top. that alone would sway me toward them if i were a man.

i think i'd have to vote for the orange one. i think you should look for a tastefully tie dyed one. something monochrome rather than the wild multicolored psychedelics might be nice. :)

Cheryl said...

You and ascots will forever be etched in my mind. Ever thought of being a Brooks Brothers model? You'd be an asset to their business.

kenju said...

I like them on you, but mr. kenju has a "large" neck and an ascot would look like a choker on a whale!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea so mnay movie stars were wearing them, you seem to be right on with the trend.

Maggie Moo said...

I don't still wear it better than the rest of those chumps!

My choice is for either the orange or the brown, leaning more to the brown because I like the pattern better.

Jeni said...

For openers, I really like when you post pics of yourself -in "full-dress mode" so to speak -gussied up, ya know -although I appreciate your pics in the casual attire as well as you ALWAYS look really spiffy. But the ascot/cravat thing -now that is really a very nice, tres vogue touch in my opinion. You look like your going to a ball of big gala but don't look like you have lost a comfort zone in your clothes. Just quite chic. (Are men chic? Or is that supposed to be a female term?) Anywho, I liked the gold or the burgundy ascots pictured the best.

Desert Songbird said...

Rick, you handsome devil you, you DEFINITELY belong in a class with that yummy George Clooney!

Cathy, Let's Dance! said...

Go for the Gold, Darling! I think you have enough of the darker colors and this would be so rich for the holidays without being RED AND GREEN. A breath of fresh air, just like you!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

GOLD, GOLD, GOLD! Definitely The Gold!

I love Ascots! I think they are, in a way, even more Elegant than ties....And at the same time, I love the semi-casualness of them---YET, as I said, Very Elegant too!
It is very Cary Grant-ish or David Niven-ish....LOVE BOTH these gentlemen. And that is the other thing about Ascots...They denote "Gentleman" to me!

I think it would be fun Rick, if you did a post on where you bought each one of those 15 Ascots that you already own..(Or two Posts, if needed....!) I'm sure there is a story attached to each one, including "place" and "time"....Ooooo That would be fun to read!

Rick Rockhill said...

Naomi (OLOTH)- Thank you. What a good idea for a future post. And yes, you are right, there IS a story behind each of them.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Rick, I know you could never be attracted to me, but I think that you are the SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. These cravats only enhance you and I like that you are reporting on them! ;)

My husband is built like an ox and I don't know if he can wear them. Can a bigger guy wear them very well or do they just look like victims of fashion?

You look scrumptious and I think that Mr. Clooney may be upset seeing how your picture near to his gives him a run for his leading man image!

Biddie said...

Of course, you are by far the best looking ascot model.
I like the burgundy, btw :)

Olivia said...

I love ascots on a man, it's so classy. How dare that philistine sneer at your obvious good taste in dressing?

I really like Brooks Brothers too, with their refined styles.

OK I would be happy not seeing David Beckham in them and it's funny that he never wore them in the UK, in fact...well never mind. I can't abide him and his unposh wife.

Of the pics on this post, they suit you and George Clooney, even Andy Garcia pulls off the look very well.

Don't you stop buying ascots, Rick. I actually thought you owned more than 15. You deserve at least 30!

Oh, puts me in mind of Jay Gatsby throwing his shirts and collars and cravats out of the wardrobe all over Daisy....

Anonymous said...

Why not give a a free ascot to the guy who sends the classiest ascot portrait.

The burgundy one would be good on you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,
I like the burgundy on the bottom right.....and I think you look very handsome in your ascots.

Anonymous said...

Nice photos..! I am a die-hard Brooks Brothers shopper.

Unknown said...

I know this is late but I like the brown. It is a good look. Also, your dog is beautiful. I watched the video.

Anonymous said...

The brown one looks good.

Kim said...

What would you think of a tweed cravat, as opposed to a regular silk one?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Someone else who sees the timeless elegance of alternative neckwear. I'm currently scouring the internet for nice quality cravats and so was happy to stumble across your blog. Great also to see some pictures of various people wearing cravats - a wonderful illustration of just how great they look!!!

Happy 'individualistic' days.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Someone else who sees the timeless elegance of alternative neckwear. I'm currently scouring the internet for nice quality cravats and so was happy to stumble across your blog. Great also to see some pictures of various people wearing cravats - a wonderful illustration of just how great they look!!!

Happy 'individualistic' days.


sandy said...

i love your blog, and thank you so much for the pics on how to tie an ascot know.

my dad is a big fan of cravats, so for his birthday this year, i made him one, out of a traditional south african cotton called shweshwe. it went down so well i've made more cravats, backing them with silk, and using south african and african inspired fabrics for the front. they're available on etsy if you're at all interested :)


Thank goodness someone recognises the qualities of the cravat! I couldn't agree more.

Suggest you take a look at Hippocamp cravats at for a selection of modern hand printed English silk, hand-made cravats.

Best wishes from the UK.

The Red Velvet Shoe said...

I just found three amazing vintage Liberty of London ascots today~~and found your blog in an attempt to see how to "tie" them...I love the look, and although I'm not sure if they should be worn by a "lady", this one loves wearing them, but I do love to see them on a gentleman as well! Bring back the glamour!


Moro said...

Encouraging me to start using ascot's. tanks!!!

Forgotten Princess said...

Go for the gold! Very chic and makes a statement.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I hope you went for the orange! Burgundy is very nice as well! Both would compliment a nice crisp white pinpoint oxford cloth shirt, with button down collar, top two buttons unbuttoned!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rick,
You will look great in all four colored ascots, with a nice crisp, white pinpoint oxford cloth shirt, with a button down collar, with the top two buttons unbuttoned!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rick,
Would like to chat about ascots with you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rick,
Would like to chat about ascots with you...


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