The use of the Ascot tie is today restricted to formal events such as weddings, where it is frequently worn with a morning suit and wing-collar shirt. Its origins lie in a variation of the more formal evening cravat which is made from a heavier material than that used for the lighter Ascot.
It originates from the 19th century cravat, fashioned from a heavy linen or cotton fabric and tied elaborately around the neck, held in place by a silver or even gold pin, known as a stick pin. The famous dandy, Beau Brummell, was known to wear this form of neckwear,although it was generally worn as standard day wear by royalty and the upper classes, and also by the middle classes as evening wear.
With the progression of the nineteenth century, and the rise in influence of the industrial businessmen and professional occupations, the middle classes became more influential and adopted a form of neckwear similar to the cravat, but less formal. Made from silk, albeit a fairly thickly woven form of silk, it was lighter than the normal cravat of the day.
It was given its name from the town of Ascot, in Berkshire, England, where it was the accepted neckwear to be worn at the horseracing meets that took place there. You have to understand that this was around 150 years ago or so, and that during the Edwardian era, when races at Ascot became popular with the royal family, the ascot was no longer worn for the event. By then, the standard neckwear was that used with the more traditional morning dress.
In the UK, the ascot is now known as a day cravat, but not by the upper classes who regard a day cravat as another form of neckwear. The dress cravat is of a thicker more heavy woven material, and is more formal that either a day cravat or an ascot. The ascot is generally the neckwear of choice for weddings, and is normally worn along with a morning suit, and black shoes, generally of the Oxford design. Spats may also be worn as part of the dress, but are not traditional.
These various forms of necktie or cravat were designed to meet the fashion requirements of their time. The progression is basically from the very formal, worn by the upper classes to the middle class businessmen, or 'nouveaux riche' to those who wore formal wear for special occasions such as horse races and, today, weddings. Although the ascot is still worn today other than at weddings and the like, it is generally by the upper classes and the aristocracy for daytime events only.
There are several ways in which an ascot can be tied, just are there are for a normal necktie. The standard simple tie knot is generally used, whereby the ends are worn inside the shirt, while the more formal Ruche, which is much like a four-in-hand tie knot, is worn with the ends folded over outside the shirt and held in place by a pin. This is also referred to as the cocolupa knot when used in respect of an ascot.
The simple knot is less commonly worn outside the shirt with a pin, and it is socially preferred to wear either the cocolupa (ruche) in this way or a formal dress cravat as opposed to an ascot. However, when an ascot is worn for your wedding it can be worn in any way you want that will make you look good, because that is its ultimate purpose.
Many grooms wear the ascot under their shirt with a patterned waistcoat, or 'vest'. Then the traditional morning suit with its penguin tails and cutaway coat, striped trousers and Oxford style shoes, or perhaps, spats that are not so traditional but a more modern American addition. The ascot is strictly a type of day cravat rather than a tie, but many refer to it as an ascot tie and at the end of the day it doesn't really matter.
What matters is that you look good in it, and if you wear it when you marry the person you love you can be sure that you will look your best and remember that day all of your life. It is also likely the only day that most men wear it, but why should it be? If it makes you look good, then why not wear it more often? More men wear ascots and bow ties because more men don't. Be different, be noticed, and stand out from the crowd!
Furher information on the ascot tie can be found on Ascot Ties together with details of other formal neckwear and dress such as tuxedos and vests at Bow Ties and More.