How to: The Bow Tie

Written by T.A.K. on . Posted in Formal

For any formal event, whether black or (if you are fortunate enough) white tie, there is one thing you need to possess and that is the bow tie. A proper bow tie that is

, as to turn up to a proper formal occasion with a clip on tie is quite crass and frankly a bit of an embarrassment. It equates to wearing velcro straps on your formal shoes and sends a clear message that your intellect is insufficient to tie even the most rudimentary knot.

For this reason, coupled with the ridiculous how to's we found currently available online I have created a simple step by step guide on how to tie your bow tie along with some important points on etiquette.

How to tie

The current amount of copy pasted disinformation on this matter is incredible, often adding completely unnecessary steps. The knot itself will be very familiar, in fact it is nearly the same as with your shoelaces (hence the velcro straps). So put on your shirt and prepare yourself.

1. Pop your collar, drape the tie around your neck and turn your collar down again. Then button up.

2. Make sure the two ends of the tie hang evenly (not unevenly as many so called guides suggest).

3. Pass the right end over the left and under to perform a basic knot. Pull this fairly tight. (an often forgotten but very important step.) 

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4. Fold the right hand into a bow shape with the narrow end directly over your button. Then pass the loose end over the center of this bow.

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5. As you probably have noticed you have formed a loop between the base knot and the front of the bow. Tuck the middle of the loose end behind and then through the middle of this loop.


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6. Take it with your fingers and Pull the knot tight.

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7. Now adjust, insert your index fingers in to the loop of the tie and pull outwards, smoothing out the creases and tightening the knot.

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The tie should be high on the collar and should completely cover the collar button. The shape should be even and the underside should sit level with the front of the bow.

Remember: Behind, through and tighten.

Etiquette

Now for some important etiquette points not to forget:

  • The proper size should never be broader than the widest part of your neck and should never extend past the tips of the shirt collar.
  • Black tie: The fabric of the bow tie has to match the facing of the lapels.
  • White tie: The bow tie must be made from cotton pique matching the fabric of the waistcoat

Types of tie

The classic bow tie is called a butterfly bow tie. Also acceptable are narrow bow ties, called batwing, which are becoming more popular with the hipster crowd. Finally there are bow ties with pointed tips - a great alternative for those seeking a slightly different and more unique look.

Buying guide

When shopping for bow tie you can choose between a pre-tied clip on and a self-tied bowtie. Pre-tied bows are never acceptable, and are considered a black tie faux-pas once you have graduated high school, they are especially considered tacky and insulting to the formal nature of a white tie.

When buying a self-tied bow tie you can choose between a fixed length and an adjustable length bow. The fixed length bows are recommended and are typically available in Small (13.5 - 15 inch neck), Medium (15.5 - 17 inch neck), and Large Size (17.5 - 19.5 inch neck). The advantages of a fixed length are that the size of the bow will automatically be proportionate to your neck and face, and the lack of the adjustment clasp gives a cleaner and formal look.

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