Military and royal costumes in ancient China often included a band of cloth used to close off the neck opening. This Chinese neckband was more akin to a scarf than a modern necktie, however. The wearer would simply wrap the band around his or her neck and allow an overcoat to hold it in place. A soiled neckband was much easier to replace than the shirt and undergarments it protected.
The Roman military also adopted a form of neck protection in the form of a squared-off necktie, although it functioned more as a food bib than a decorative element. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that both the decorative and functional aspects of a necktie were fully integrated. Lace or muslin ruffs were generally considered the standard neck covering of the day, but these frilly collars were not always very practical, especially for working military officers. When various European governments began to recruit Croatian mercenaries, they were impressed with the Croatian military uniforms they wore.