With regard to neckwear, there are three proper options for morning dress: an ascot, a tie or a bow tie. This section is about the ascot, which is a.k.a. plastron.
Ascot During Early 19th Century with Closed Detachable Collar & Tie Stick Pin
When exactly, the Ascot was invented is unclear. In England, it was popularized by Bertie in 1888 and was worn with a frock coat. Initially, it was only known as scarf, though the French had already named it Plastronin 1882. By the end of the 19th century, the Plastron was considered the most exclusive form of neckwear for formal morning dress.
Ascot with Wing Collar, Double Breasted Vest & Morning Coat
Bertie also poplarized it at horse races such as Royal Ascot. At this point in time, the morning coat was already more popular than the frock coat and the ascot was considered to be the most appropriate necktie for the event.
Ascot with Turndown Collar
Hence, it derives its name from this famous horse race in England, where morning coats are still compulsory in the Royal Enclosure.
Casual Cravat aka Fake Ascot Without Interlining
Unfortunately, there seem to be a number of mislabeled ascots which are not worn and tied like a traditional ascot, but are worn inside the shirt as a casual alternative to a tie. These can usually be spotted by their pleated back parts and a lack of interlining. On the other hand, the genuine ascot has a thin interlining and a 1-inch wide back piece without any pleats.
Pre-tied Ascot. with Decorative Pearl Stick Pin
Also, you can acquire pre-tied ascots, which don’t have to be tied but just like with a ready-made bow tie, these version are simply undesirable.
Plastron with Detachable Collar
In terms of color, plastrons were traditionally plain and black or striped. Starting in the 1910’s, grooms would also wear micropatterns with or without stripes in silver, black and white. However, today you can wear basically anything you want. Many men like red tones but even brown can work. It all depends on how you combine it with your shirt an morning waistcoat. Generally you should prevent too many strong color accents to achieve a good balance.
How to Tie An Ascot
How to Wear an Ascot
It is worn on the outside of a detachable collar, tied and eventually decorated with a stick pin. While it was worn originally with a closed stiff collar, young men would wear open stiff collars and eventually flap collars and even turndown collars with an ascot. In my opinion, it looks best with a stiff detachable collar (with or without flaps).
Ascot & Morning Coat at Royal Ascot
While morning dress used to be one of the last places where you could wear the real ascot, the official clothing guide for the 2012 Royal Ascot horse races excludes the ascot!
I can think of two possible explanations for the change; first, Royal Ascot officials may be tired of attendees mistakenly wearing the casual alternative of the ascot. Alternatively, the person in charge of the guide was not aware of the difference in ascots, but that seems to be unlikely given the attention to detail usually demonstrated in sartorial events involving the Crown. In any case, it is sad to see that another classical piece of men’s clothing has been retired at one of the world’s most well known horse races.