1861 - 1865
Should you desire to wear a cravat for special occasions such as balls, dances, weddings, divine services, and the like, that would be altogether appropriate, but a matter of personal choice. Interestingly, almost anything seemed to work when it came to cravats from the 1830s to the 1870s. Many were sewn pieces, often with a stripe in the fabric on only one end of the cravat. Some were made with thin or wide grosgrain ribbon, and some were small and almost as tight as a modern bow tie, while others were large and affectedly floppy.
In the cravat pictured above, the tie is actually pre-tied. The form is maintained by the use of spring steel, sewn into the main part of the tie. At one end of the tie is a steel loop affixed to the spring steel; at the other end, the spring steel has been cut and shaped to form a hook. The hook is secured in the loop to hold the tie around the neck, and the spring steel gives the stock of the tie great stability. It never looks wilted, and it's easy to put on.
Bow Tie Style Cravat
Most sutlers offer either a pre-tied version that secures with a vest-type buckle in the back, or a length of ribbon or fabric for you to tie yourself. A pre-tied cravat, either with a buckle closure or steel loop & hook closure, is historically accurate. Be careful, however, not to purchase a cravat whose style dates to the 1830s, for that style was long out of date, even in the most backwater of towns in the decade before the Civil War.
If you are making your own shirt and choose to use the pattern from Past Patterns, a pattern for cravats is included in their packet, along with a guide to tying a cravat.