THE BOW TIE

First, let’s get to know the different types of bow ties: Self-tied, pre-tied, and clip-on. Ignore types two and three immediately.

If you’re the type of person who wants to wear a bow tie, you should be the type of person that wants to learn how to tie one. There are literally 100,000 videos to choose from (my personal favorite is this one).

The key to wearing a bow tie is to do it sparingly, unless you’re trying to make it your “thing,” like a certain Supreme Court Justice. Make it about a special event, and keep the rest of your outfit muted  think a solid color suit and shirt.

adam levine bow tie hair
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. 
Paul A. Hebert/Getty Images

For a suits, go with navy, black or grey, and for shirts, stick to blues and whites. It’s possible to wear a pinstripe suit with a bow tie, but make sure the stripe is subtle. And make sure the suit and shirt match, since they’ll be more visible than they would be with a regular necktie, which bisects the male torso. 

Most important is the bow tie itself. Since the rest of your outfit will be conservative, this is the time to make a statement.

A basic place to start is with some stripes, but once you’re comfortable with patterns, start experimenting with polka dotspaisley, or anything else. A bow tie is such a small piece of clothing that it’s acceptable for it to get loud. You wanted to stand out by wearing one, so embrace it.

Once you’ve tied your bow tie and you’re happy that it’s not going to come undone, leave it alone. It’s part of the fun that the knot won’t be perfect; that’s how people will know you did it yourself.

Remember, bow ties don’t look nearly as cool loosened like regular ties, so keep it tight. Don’t touch it again until you’re ready to untie it completely for that rakish (cool) end-of-a-great-night look you’ve been waiting for.

THE BOW TIE

The bow tie is a tour de force in its own right. More of a style icon than accent, it has graced the likes of everyone from Winston Churchill to James Bond. It is a statement that shows you’re debonair, self-aware and not too timid to shy away from the crowd of Four-in-Hands and Half-Windsor tie knots. (Not that there’s anything wrong with them.)

However, as they say with great sartorial power comes great responsibility, and correctly tying and wearing a bow tie is no exception. A pre-tied or clip-on option is out of the question, and a loosely tied, too large or haphazardly askew look will destroy the whole effect.

Which is why learning how to properly tie a bow tie is not only an important life skill, but a rite of passage.

HOW TO TIE A BOW TIE

STEP 1
Step 1

Hang the bow tie flat around your neck, pulling side A longer than side B by approximately 1.5 inches.


STEP 2
Step 2

Bring A across B close to your neck to prevent the tie from becoming too loose.


STEP 3

Step 3

Continue to bring A up behind B, forming a simple and loose knot.


STEP 4

Step 4

Fold B to make a bow tie shape by pulling it to the left and then folding it back over itself to the right. The fold should be directly between the collar points.


STEP 5

Step 5

Drape A over the front of B.


STEP 6
Step 6

Fold A and pass it through the loop behind B.


STEP 7
Step 7

Continue pulling A through the loop, without pulling it completely through. This will form the back half of the bow.


STEP 8
Step 8

Tighten the knot and adjust until even by pulling on opposite sides simultaneously. Pull the front left and back right section to tighten, and the front right and back left end apart to loosen.