Around 1635, France hired thousands of scarf-wearing Croatian mercenaries to help out with the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). By 1650, French king Louis XIV caught sight of these jaunty neckerchiefs, fell for them and started wearing one himself. Voila, a new fashion accessory was born. The French called the scarf “a la croate,” meaning worn “in the Croatian way.” The term soon evolved into the word “cravat,” a word that's remained a synonym for neckwear to this day.
Robert Jerin Croatian Heritage Museum Cleveland Ohio