Did you know historians trace the bow tie back to the 17th century? During the Thirty Year's War, Croatian mercenaries tied a scarf around their necks, possibly for hygienic reasons or to keep their shirts closed. Upper-class society in France adopted this fashion, calling it the cravat. Over the years, it transformed into the self-tie bow tie we know and love today.
Men who want to sport a bow tie can choose from different shapes, with the batwing and the thistle (or butterfly) being the most popular. There are some other shapes, too, such as the diamond point, but this one is a bit more complicated to tie. So, if you are a beginner, we recommend you stick to the batwing or thistle.
In this article, we'll provide you with a step-by-step tutorial so you can make a sleek bow tie knot that will leave everyone you meet impressed!
When to Wear Bow Ties
Bow ties are often associated with intellect and professionalism, perhaps because of their popularity among university professors, lawyers, musicians, and other upper-class individuals.
Many people also think of great icons, both real and fictional, when they picture men in bow ties. Among these are Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and even James Bond.
Formal events are the perfect occasion to ditch the necktie. In fact, some dress codes, like black tie events, call for bow ties. Usually, they should be classic black or match the color of your tuxedo. On the other hand, the fanciest of affairs generally have a white-tie dress code. You can wear an elegant white bow tie at these parties or ceremonies. Still, you don't have to wait for black or white-tie events to put on a bow tie. You can wear a bow tie with your suit in nearly all formal situations.
Of course, wearing a bow tie isn't reserved for upper-class individuals or formal occasions. There's no reason you can't pair a more casual bow tie with your daily office attire or when you go out with friends on the weekend. Anyone who wants to seem confident and self-aware can pull one off as long as they know how to tie it correctly.
At this point, you may be wondering what's wrong with pre-tied bow ties. The truth is, there's nothing wrong with them, but most experienced suit-wearers will be able to spot them from a mile away. Plus, in formal situations, pre-tied bow ties are kind of a faux pau. If you want to look classy and confident, learning how to tie a bow tie properly is your ticket.
How to Tie a Bow Tie
Do you remember when you learned how to tie your shoelaces? For most of us, mastering this skill took a lot of practice. We may have recited a rhyme or a song to remember all the steps, but eventually, we learned and could tie our shoes without thinking about the steps.
The same is true when learning to tie a bow tie step by step. It takes some practice, but eventually, you'll master this DIY skill and be able to do it effortlessly. We don't have any songs or rhymes to help you, but we have this bow tie video if you are a visual learner.
1. Lie the Bow Tie Face Up
First and foremost, you'll need to drape your bowtie around your neck. It should be lying face up. The right side should be longer than the left side.
In this tutorial, we will refer to the long end (left end) of the bow tie as side A. The shorter end (right end) is referred to as side B.
2. Cross Side A over Side B
Next, you'll want to take side A (remember this is the longer end of the bow tie) and cross it over side B. It should simply rest overtop of the shorter side, and there's no need to do anything else yet.
3. Fold into a Loose Knot
Now you'll guide side A under side B. Then, pull it up through the neck loop.
Instead of letting side A drape on top of side B or hang, it's best to keep it in your hand or drape it back over your shoulder while you do the next step.
4. Fold Side B into a Bow Shape
Now you'll want to take side B in your hand. At the joint, fold it towards the right and then towards the left. If you've done it correctly, it will create a bow shape.
5. Drape Side A over Side B
For this next part, you'll take side A (which should be resting on your shoulder) and bring it down over the middle of the bow shape you made in the previous step. Make sure it's hanging in the middle of this bow shape.
6. Pinch and Tuck Side A under Side B
As side A hangs over the bow tie shape, fold it toward your chest. Then, pinch the fold.
After you have folded and pinched side A, guide it through the loop behind side B. Upon doing so, you should have a loose bow tie.
7. Tighten the Knot
The last step in this tutorial is simply pulling all sides of the bow. This will tighten them up and leave you with the perfect bow tie. Be gentle since pulling too much may mess up your knot, meaning you'll have to start over again.
You can start all over if you don't like the final result. If this is your first time attempting to tie a bow tie yourself, don't worry — it takes practice to get it right.
Once you can make a successful knot, don't be afraid to experiment with your bow tie style. For example, you can make smaller or larger bows by adjusting the length of the sides.
However you choose to wear your bow tie, you can feel proud knowing you did it yourself. Any slight imperfections are signs of this, so don't worry if your bow tie doesn't look perfect like the pre-tied ones. It's not supposed to!
Procure High-End Bow Ties with PRIME Neckwear
Knowing how to tie your own bow tie is an accomplishment you can be proud of! Using this step-by-step guide, you can keep practicing until you are satisfied with your bow tie's shape and symmetry. It may take several tries, but keep at it, and you'll eventually be able to tie your bow tie faster than your shoes!
If you don't yet have a bow tie, pick a couple from PRIME Neckwear’s online shop. We offer a wide range of colors and styles, so there's something for every occasion. Plus, our neckwear is made with high-end materials, making it easier to accomplish your desired look!