The Bow-tie is back

Small details make the difference. The bow-tie is coming back as a real fashion accessory and it is incontrovertible…

It first appeared during the 17th century, worn by Croatian mercenaries but looking more like a scarf. It then arrived to France in the wealthier population and became a stylish piece of fashion. It represented a formal and complete outfit and then its wearing spread to academicians and doctors. After that, the bow tie has been neglected (but never forgotten) during the Second World War.

The bow-tie used to be out-fashioned but we can now see that these last years it came back as a brand new accessory in many different models, styles and colors. The bow-tie is a real mark of elegance and shows originality to dress up the groom, the best men or also to dress a man in his everyday life. A trendy man who wishes to differentiate himself should opt for this classy and elegant accessory.

The bow tie’s name in French is « Nœud  papillon », which would literally mean « knot butterfly ». A bow tie is a kind of tie, which once « knotted » looks like a butterfly.

There are actually two distinct forms under the term “bow-tie”, The one with flat end (“beater”) and the one with pointy end (the “butterfly”). It exists also 3 main ways of attaching a bow-tie: the one you tie yourself (adjustable or fix neck size like with shirts), the pre-tied and finally the  bow-tie you can directly clip on which are the most common ones because the easiest ones to use.

Below you will be able to understand the bow-tie and to have a firm grasp on the subject, You will learn how to associate it with your outfits and your style...

1 : Models, sizes and cuts

As previously mentioned, bow-ties are all different and that is why we will now present you the three main variations :

The Self-Tie, the traditional one. Sometimes known as « freestyle », the self-tie bow tie is the classic style and has an organic look when tied. It can be challenging to tie a self-tie bow tie the first few times, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

The Pre-Tied or Tied Bow Tie. As the name suggests, a pre-tied bow tie comes pre-tied and the knot is sewn in place. It is easy to put out but any bow tie aficionado will be able to spot the difference.

The Clip-On, A clip-on bow tie clips directly onto the collar of your shirt, It is really easy to put on and will be fast adjusted. However it will be less original and could be less pretty than the other variations of bow tie. They sometimes look too “perfect” and impersonal; it is important to know that a bow tie is usually worn a bit aslant, with a side bigger than the other. It has to show an informal style without any effort (although it needs some to achieve it!).

The particularity of a bow tie doesn’t stop there. Indeed there are two cuts of bow ties: the straight cut with rectangular wings and pointy ends and the “fish cut” with trapeze or triangle wings. It also exists English cuts with a variation of wings and ends regarding the side. Bow ties can be bought or modeled differently, with for example the thin Slim or the big Butterfly, the Club or the Lord which is really aesthetic. Let’s not forget the classical black bow tie which is always recommended, especially with a conventional Smoking. New types of bow ties are emerging, like the wood bow ties or the one made of knitted fabric…

Adopt the size and shape of the bow tie with your style and your body. A small bow tie will be perfect for a thin jaw and stature while a middle bow tie will fit better a robust figure. Regarding the big bow ties, they are a bit more difficult to match but will look good on imposing morphology. One thing to know and not to forget, the wings of your bow tie shall not cover your whole neck, that wouldn’t be elegant either classy.

2: The different fabrics

Before made of cotton, the bow tie has not only been created in different shapes. It has become essential and is now created in different fabrics. You can find it in wool, cashmere, velvet, silk, leather but also in wood. 

The wool bow tie is a totally different style and adds a virile dimension to its initial elegance. Prettier but more expensive, the cashmere bow tie offers a unique elegance. Regarding the ones in velvet and silk, warm and precious fabrics, we will associate the velvet to the black bow tie of a smoking and the silk to patterned models which can be really wonderful. It is good to note that it exists bow ties made of leather, more virile than the other fabrics. You will have understood that there is a large amount of possibilities for a classy, elegant and delicate outfit.

3 : How to tie a bow tie ?

Here some simple explanations in order to help you create an original bow tie.

  • Pull up the collar of your shirt and place the bow tie around it.
  • To tie a bow tie, the first step is to make sure that one end of the bow tie is longer than the other by a few cm. The longer end of the tie should be on your right side.
  • Cross the longer end of the bow tie over the shorter end. Bring the longer end of the bow tie underneath the shorter end and then bring it out from the center. 
  • Fold the shorter end of the bow tie horizontally and place the longer end of the bow tie over the shorter end. 
  • Fold the longer end of the bow tie horizontally and then insert it through the loop at the back of the shorter end. 
  • Pull both ends gently to tighten the knot. 
  • Adjust as needed--and don't worry, slight imperfections add character. 

4 : The shirt to match

It exists different types of collars to know in order to match your accessories in the right way. The harmony between colors and patterns is very important.

The wing collar: short and rigid. With or without plastron, it should be worn during formal events. For example a cocktail party, wearing a smoking. It also enables to hide the tying. To create a halfway between serious and original, a colored patterned bow tie can be used. Nevertheless, the model has to be thin in order not to be too imposing.

The French collar, for casual events. To keep things interesting, with this type of collar you can wear a lot of different types of bow tie. The larger the collar will be, the bigger can be the model, but never forget that the accessory shall not be too invading and shall not hide your neck. If you’re a beginner, stay on intermediate dimensions and sizes which are called “slim”.

The narrow-necked collar is ideal for slim bow ties ( as for the wing collar ). It is possible to orn it more with a big bow tie.

The club collar is perfect for traditional and thin models. Its rounded shape matches the slim bow tie.

Some piece of advice: avoid collars which are too big or too opened ones (Italian models are often this extreme) because it will not be highlighted. They are generally designed for the wearing of a tie. Adapt your collar with the bow tie só that the gap between the extremities of the collar matches the gap between both wings of the accessory. Also important to know, a long collar visually lenghten small or large faces while a man with with a long or thin face should opt for a short collar. If you wish to, you can associate your bow tie with your braces; it brings a vintage and bohemian chic touch to your style, like a jazzman or a soul singer. Always take care of your outfit, your clothes should be cut regarding your morphology and the colors always associated.

5 : Colors and patterns

A bow tie is an accessory and must complete your outfit. The accessory is not making your style but the bow tie will highlight and sublimate it because small details make the difference.

For those who are wearing a bow tie for the first time, opt for basic ranges, the ones matching everything. If you’re feeling bolder and you’re used to wearing accessories, then you can try almost everything. Think about stripes, dots, squared motives or drawings. Important to know is that the thiner are the motives, the easier it will be to match them to solid colored pieces. If it’s big (like thick squares) it will better fit a sober outfit. You can also have fun mixing two different motives, like stripes on your bow tie and stripes on your jacket. Dots are also nice to be played with on suits with motives. Above all, always keep a good balance between what’s seen the most and what’s merging in the rest. What is merging will then put the main element forward.

 Always trendy and existing in various styles, you now have all the good reasons to try the bow tie. A real stylish asset which will show elegance and bring you a great freedom on the way you wish to wear it.