Bow ties are one of the most iconic symbols of men’s fashion. From Winston Churchill to James Bond, the bow tie is one of those small and traditional fashion pieces that still packs a wallop of sophistication upon its wearer.
Although a bow tie can be a great way to dress up your formal attire, it takes some time to master the art of tying and styling one. The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can wear a bow tie, and once you’ve locked down your tying technique, you’ll be able to raise your bow tie-wearing head with style and pride!
If you need some help on how to tie and wear your bow tie, we’re here to help.
History of the bow tie
The bow tie is a timeless fashion accessory that has been around for centuries, but you might be surprised to learn where it originated. The bow tie was loosely styled from the scarves worn by Croatian mercenaries in 16th century Italy. While serving in Venice’s army, they wore these scarves around their necks to keep their shirts closed during battle.
This was then picked up and adapted by French soldiers, who tucked a run of fabric into their shirts. Later on, the French aristocracy then took this style for themselves, creating the Cravat, which slowly evolved into what we now know as the bow tie.
Since the French aristocracy, the bow tie has been worn for centuries as a symbol of class, elegance, and sophistication – to this day, the essence of the bow tie has not faltered.
How to choose a bow tie
Bow ties now come in so many different styles that it can seem challenging to choose the right one, but it’s pretty simple. Your bow tie should be made of 100% silk – this is an absolute necessity. All high-end and traditional bow ties are made from silk, so if you want to wear a bow tie, you should wear a proper one!
Some bow ties can come in tight or coarse weave, but your fabric should still be silk. Other than looking stylish, bow ties are worn as a sign of sophistication, so you should avoid clip-on bow ties at all costs. If you learn how to tie a bow tie, you won’t need silly clip-ons and can join the ranks of the sophisticated, cultured, and those of good taste!
How to wear a bow tie – the 6 rules
1. Always wear it with a collared shirt
Bow ties create a stylish focal point for any outfit, but the point is only to show the bow. You don’t want anything but the bow showing, so you’ll need to wear a collared shirt that you can pull over the portion of the bow tie wrapping around your neck.
2. Make sure the shirt collar fits
Bow ties aren’t miracle workers. If your shirt collar doesn’t fit, even a high-quality bow tie won’t fix it. A shirt collar that’s too tight can make you look and feel strangled, while a collar that’s too loose will make your bow tie look like a disheveled after-thought. Get your neck measurement and choose a quality, 100% cotton button down shirt!
3. Make sure it suits the occasion
You shouldn’t go wearing a bow tie for any occasion, that’s not how to wear a bow tie! As a general rule, if a necktie is appropriate, then a bow tie is also acceptable.
4. Show personality, but don’t go overboard
You can find plenty of quirky patterned and colored bow ties that can add a bit of personality to your look, but you should be cautious with your choices. Some patterns can be overbearing and lean towards looking more like novelty bow ties than formal attire; cartoon characters, political slogans, and flags are all patterns you should avoid.
5. The bow tie should go with your proportions
One of the most important rules of how to wear a bow tie is getting the proportions correct. For example, if you are larger, wear a larger bow tie and vice versa.
6. Never arrive with your bow tie untied
This is self-explanatory, but it doesn’t look classy when individuals arrive with their bow ties yet to be tied. Plus, having to awkwardly tie your bow tie in front of a table full of guests can be quite a nerve-wracking experience!
How to tie a bow tie – Step by step
1. Get your lengths right
The first step of how to tie a bow tie is getting the correct lengths. You should hang the bow tie flat around your neck, with the right side of the tie being roughly three inches longer than the left.
2. Cross the ends
Cross the longer end of the bow tie over the shorter end. The bow tie should be close to your neck to prevent the tie from becoming too loose.
3. Form a simple knot
Bring the longer side up behind the shorter side, forming a simple and loose knot.
4. Create the bow shape
Fold the shorter end of the bow tie horizontally to create the bow shape. The fold should be directly between the collar points.
5. Drape the longer end over the bow shape
Bring the longer end of the bow tie down so it drapes over the front of the bow shape you just created.
6. Fold the longer end
Now, create a horizontal fold in the longer end of the bow tie.
7. Tighten the bow
Insert the folded longer end of the bow tie through the loop that’s behind the shorter end.
8. Tighten the knot
Pull both ends gently to tighten the knot. Adjust until even by pulling on the opposite sides.
Still need help? Try this video!
The bow tie is the finishing touch that will make you look sharp and get all those eyes focused on you, so you need to be on top of your game! Wearing a bow tie (and doing it well) shouldn’t be your only focal point – we’ve got a few more tips for you to keep up that polished appearance.
To go with your perfectly tied bow tie, you should look at getting your hair and skin on point, too. If your skin is showing signs of neglect, it can throw off your whole look. Lines, blemishes, and dark undereye circles are all potential skin problems that could diminish your sophisticated look if not treated.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help – check out JESSE JIMZ Skincare for Men!