The bow tie – separating men from boys


Put simply, the bow tie is the pièce de résistance of the formal suit.   Pre tied bows are made with absolute precision with every tie being mass produced and identical.  With mass manufacture, pre tied bows are also somewhat limited in relation to designs and colour.

In contrast, each hand tied bow tie is just very slightly different and allows the wearer to show off personality and flair.  Each knot is different depending on tension and each tie provides the wearer to make a statement!

Unfortunately, the skill of being able to tie a bow tie is becoming lost in the modern world.  For generations, every British school child was able to tie a traditional tie on the basis that most school uniforms had a tie.   Nowadays, many schools have changed over to the casual school polo shirt and those that have stayed with shirts and blazers have adopted to use “clip on” ties which initially horrified me.  However, over time, I have come to think that the clip on tie does have a place in the modern school uniform.  Where schools have changed over, the fashion trends for “fat” ties,  “thin” ties, “big knots”, and “skinny knots”  have gone and each child has a perfectly tied tie showing the identity of their school.

The skill of being able to tie a bow tie is a different kettle of fish.  Apart from my elderly father and his group of friends, I think I would be hard pushed to find anyone under the age of 50 who could confidently tie a bow tie.  The skill of the bow tie has even seemed to have evaded those who have been in the armed forces.   Between 2010 and 2013 the bow tie experienced a surge in popularity as a result of Matt Smith’s reincarnation of Dr Who – a bow tie loving Doctor (although the less said about the accompanying fez – the better!).

So, how is it tied?

Start with the bow tie lying face up. Adjust the bowtie so right side is shorter than the left. The end on the left will be referred to as A and the end on the right will be referred to as B

Move A to the right side, across B.

Bring A under B and up through the neck loop.

At the joint, fold B towards the right and then towards the left to create a the bow shape.

Bring A stra­ight down over the middle of the bow shape that was made with B.

Fold A back towards the chest and pinch the fold.

Push the pinched end (A) through the loop behind B.

Pull on the folded parts of the bow to tighten.

Adjust until balanced on both sides.



The English School of Manners & Etiquette



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