The origins of the modern necktie seem to reach as far back as the 16th century. At this point men of means wore a band of fabric which would wrap around the wearers neck, sometimes in a tight ruffle and sometimes simply drape down the front of their doublet. These bands were more or less used as an attached bib or napkin. Cheaper then a doublet and easier to change or clean these bands became a popular way of keeping ones ensemble immaculate. But, these bands were simply the meager beginnings, the true origins of modern neckwear lay with the cravat.
(L) Duc d’Alençon, 1577, wearing a ‘ruff’ band
(R) Jacques-Louis Davis, 1794, self portrait from prison wearing his cravat