The Bow Tie Resurgence
One year ago I was toying with the idea of purchasing my first bow tie. I emailed some of my more “in the know” fashion friends and asked if they thought I could legitimately pull off the bow tie look without being too dorky. One immediately emailed me back with an emphatic yes. The other called me and told me to cancel all lunch plans, we were going shopping. One hour later there I was, standing in the men’s section of Younkers with a half-tied bow tie around my neck trying to figure out the final touches through a YouTube video I had found. It took an hour. A long and painful hour to get that tiny piece of fabric tied around my neck in a semi-presentable fashion, but I had done it. I tied my first bow tie.
The first one was blue and grey plaid. The second, blue paisley. The third was a gift from my wife and bold red. The fourth, fifth, and sixth were ordered off of eBay. I now own 12 bow ties and the collection seems to grow by the week. People at networking events and complete strangers from around town all know me as the “bow tie guy.” I have met fellow bow tie guys at clubs, business meetings, parties, and weddings. We’re easy to pick out of the crowd with that simple piece of fabric tied below our necks. We come from different backgrounds, different professions, and different parts of the state but we all have one thing in common. We love the look of a hand-tied bow tie.
So why the sudden resurgence of the bow tie? Why now when it hasn’t been in fashion for decades? I think it comes down to the distinguished look it lends the wearer. The air of confidence and supposed class it automatically imposes. Not everyone is willing to take the risk that is associated with wearing a bow tie in public for the first time, which is a shame. Once the initial ridicule or shock has subsided the compliments quickly follow. People remember the guy in a bow tie long after he’s gone. People soon expect the bow tie wherever the “bow tie guy” turns up.
Let me offer a few hints and tips if you’re on the fence or seriously considering joining the bow tie club:
1. Don’t do a clip on!! I can’t stress this enough. There are hundreds of YouTube videos (this is how I learned) and sales professionals that can help you learn how to tie a bow tie. Take the time and learn how to do it right. It’s actually no different than tying your shoe – except it’s a little bigger string and it’s around your neck. People appreciate bow ties. They appreciate them even more when they find out they’re hand tied.
2. Make sure they coordinate with what you’re wearing. If you’re already good at pairing patterns and colors then you can skip to #3. If you’re not ask someone before you go into public. Your wife, your girlfriend, your work wife, heck even your mom, just get a second opinion. After all, you’re already throwing yourself out there wearing a bow tie. Don’t make it worse by wearing a pink bow tie with a bright red shirt…
3. Know what you’re looking for when you buy your first bow tie. There are all kinds of styles and bow sizes. I found out the hard way that some bows are gigantic and can literally look like a clown’s tie when they’re tied. My suggestion, go with a smaller bow to start off with. They’re typically easier to tie and won’t stick out as much as a monster bow.
4. Have fun with it! Bow ties really are in fashion right now. They’re being paired with everything from tuxes to jeans, 3-piece suits to sports coats. Get a couple all-purpose bow ties and try them with different looks. Then wear it with pride and get ready for people to ask you about your newest accessory. The reaction will be immediate and 95% of the time overwhelmingly positive.
I’ll leave you with the words of Warren St John of the New York Times because I believe he put it best, “To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.”