A word on bow ties [+ 8 styling tips]

4 min read

How to wear a bow tie


Opinions on bow ties are often divided, between those who wear them with utmost confidence every day of the week, and those who prefer to keep them for special occasions and formal affairs only. 

If neckties are perhaps more traditional and reminiscent of Neapolitan tailoring, classic menswear and safe dressing, bow ties on the other hand have become quite the go-to accessory for men (and indeed women) who are looking to make a little more impact.

Far from being restricted to smart evening attire as they once were or be a sign of dandyism, bow ties exude confidence and style. By marrying sophistication, playfulness and panache, they can help you achieve a singular look and make a sartorial statement.


Red herringbone bow tie made in EnglandLV Made in England
Red herringbone pre-tied bow tie

Self tie silk black bow tie
LVMade in England
Self-tie black silk bow tie


The Edi
nburgh Bow Tie Company
Dark green and orange tweed pre-tied bow tie
Rory Hutton silk navy bow tie
Rory Hutton
Manchuria navy blue silk bow tie



- A (VERY) SHORT HISTORY OF BOW TIES -

Bow ties date back to the 17th century when short scarves tied into an accentuated bow were used by the Croatian army during Europe's Thirty Years War to bind the collars of their shirts together. The short scarves gradually evolved into neckties and bow ties.

Once the war over, French soldiers brought the accessory back home and, much like pocket squares and colourful socks, the French upper classes, which were highly influential when it came to style at the time, were fast to adopt the new neckwear and integrate it into their dress.

From its humble beginning, the bow tie quickly became an essential component to a man’s attire by the end of the 19th century.

To this day, ceremonial black bow ties, especially in silk and satin, are primarily reserved for formal occasions, however a greater number of more casual styles, fabrics and patterns have made their way into everyday menswear, turning bow ties into an everyday accessory to make a statement with.

Often misinterpreted as a novelty accessory, bow ties are on the contrary elegant-chic, and give an intelligent air not only for the slight nerdy look, but also for the confidence they boasts.

 

YOJO blue ceramic bow tie


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"I believe that dressing is not just about wearing aesthetically pleasant garments but it’s a whole experience of feeling connected to a product through its story and heritage."
- Joe Sorrentino, YOJO

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- HOW TO STYLE A BOW TIE | 9 STYLE TIPS -

Bow ties are reminiscent of a time when men were arguably better-dressed and more attentive to appropriate dress codes. Once a staple in classic menswear, the bow tie is having a resurgence as a self-expression. But how best to style it?

  1. The purists will often tell you that if you wear a bow tie it has to be a self tie. And yes, it certainly does add sophistication and elegance to a black bow tie, but there is nothing wrong with a pre-tied bow tie - it stays put all day, making your life easier and giving you less to worry about. Though the slight asymmetry of a self tie bow tie does give it more character and that sought-after effortless look, it’s best to go with what you feel more comfortable and confident with. Go for a self tie if you are comfortable tying it and you can end the night with it loosened up, draped casually over your shirt, or go for the safer option of a pre-tied bow tie.

  2. Unless you are attending a white or black tie event (and even for a black tie, there is some room to experiment), bow ties are a great way to get a little creative and mix colour and texture.

  3. Do not be afraid to incorporate bow ties into your daily wear. Some men indeed have become so accustomed to bow ties that they have become part of their signature style and part of their identity. Could that be you?

  4. If deciding to go for a self tie bow tie, don’t strive for perfection when it comes to tying your own bow tie. The beauty of a self bow tie is in its organic shape and sprezzatura-like appearance.

  5. The bow tie should be balanced with the shirt - don’t go overboard by wearing two loud patterns simultaneously. For your bow tie to stand out, make sure to wear a plain shirt or one with a subtle pattern only.

  6. Bow ties are well suited for any casual events that calls for you to dress well (think brunch, garden parties, horse races, date night or the theatre) as well as formal events such as weddings. A bow tie is pretty much always a good option.

  7. Prefer cotton, linen and tweed bow ties for everyday occasions, keep silk bow ties for more formal events such as black and white tie. If you’re feeling more daring or are searching for the ultimate wedding accessory, why not dare to wear a ceramic bow tie.

  8. Know your knots - they are only four main ones; the butterfly (the most common), the big butterfly (paired with winged collars), the bat wing or the symmetric diamond point. If in doubt or are a novice wearer, stick to the butterfly knot. [check out this video for this most basic butterfly knot: https://youtu.be/yfcImzuE2MA].


Screenprinted blue linen bow tie



Once restricted by sartorial rules, the bow tie has taken on a life of its own in recent years and has become an accessory that any style-savvy individual can indulge in to create their own signature style, making it the perfect conversation starter.

Whether you want to follow the steps of film characters Doctor Who or James Bond, embody the style of Hollywood’s golden era’s actors such as Frank Sinatra, Cary Gant or Fred Astaire, or even high profile names, such as Winston Churchill and Manolo Blahnik, fear the bow tie not and join the club; a bow tie is a sign of impeccable style and you’ll be in great company!

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Are you a bow tie wearer? What are your to-go bow tie style, knots and fabrics?
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