Ascot scarves came around in the 18th century as a descendant of the “cravat” scarf. British Gentlemen would wear these scarves to the Royal Ascot Race in Berkshire, a historical, horse racing event. The ascot was a looser version of the cravat, and it served for both a functional and decorative purpose.
A man named Beau Brimmel first introduced the ascot to fashion. He said that Royal men should always wear black coats and white ascots. He’s also credited with introducing the suit and tie to formal menswear. This is yet another place where we see the scarf attributed to formal dress.
It’s easy to get an ascot confused with a simple neck scarf or tie, but it actually has a specific definition. An ascot is this:
“a wide, pointed necktie, wherein each end is of equal width. It’s tied in a simple knot, the ends are crossed over each other over the shirt, and secured to the chest with a pin, often made from pearl. It also happens to be the most formal type of necktie.”
Though this may seem like a lengthy definition, it is important to realize that the ascot was first designed to be an accessory only worn by the royal people of England. However, as time has moved on, the ascot has lost this exclusivity, and the original meaning has become exhausted.
As fashion continuously shifts, society’s view of the ascot has also changed. What was once seen as a sign of Royalty has transformed into an accessory that can either “dress up a casual look” or completely destroy it, if not done with a keen eye for style. It’s definitely a version of the scarf that requires a bit more careful thought before pairing it with any outfit. But if done right, the ascot can still give off the regality that it was once intended to do.