In the last couple of years there has been a real resurgence of bow ties as a legitimate part of a man’s wardrobe attire. It had spent a long time in the fashion wilderness waiting in exile for its chance to return, but thanks to numerous designers and the actor Matt Smith (Doctor Who), it seems that the bow tie may be back and hopefully here to stay.
I think the reason that we are seeing a comeback is down to two simple reasons. First of all, men’s fashion is currently looking back to the older decades for inspiration. This can be seen in the rise in tie bars, pocket squares and trilby’s just to name a few. The bow tie is simply another weapon in the arsenal of the forgotten gentleman. Secondly, the pieces that are being taken from our past are being updated and modernised for the 20th century. For those of you with fears of huge widespread bow ties in garish colours that won’t stay up; don’t panic! Nearly every designer has slimmed the ties down to remain on trend and have branched out in various materials that mean your worries are truly a thing of the past.
But what are rules for pulling one off? Well, first of all I would recommend you learn to tie one! Every self-respecting man should be able to do this, think of it as your right of passage. However, if you’re lazy, and let’s face I have my days, there are a range of pre-tied and clip on versions out there. Band of Outsiders currently do some fantastic versions that you would never tell the difference with.
Next I would suggest you start to think seasonally. As I said, gone are the days of shiny silky bow ties that your Mum loved to see you in. They are plenty of bow ties now in wools, flannels, tweeds and even denim! Wen spring finally rolls around why not try some seersucker, madras or lightweight cotton? It’s these differences that will make you wearing a bow tie seem contemporary and on-trend.
You may also want to pay attention to the style of tie that you chose because they do all carry certain connotations, trust me. For that cool-kid/New York rooftop party vibe, then stick with a ‘bat wing’. It basically follows a straight line through the whole body of the tie and I would consider it the easiest to pull off. Next there is ‘pointed’ and this does what it says on the tin; ends in at a point. This is a more traditional version but still packs a lot of attitude. For full on classic, head straight to the ‘hourglass’. The only risk you run here is that it’s easy for this one to become dishevelled and look a mess. You might want to keep this one until black tie events or when you have a +1 to keep you in check.
Ways To Wear
But how exactly do you wear a bow tie? Well, as always, here are some fool-proof ways of incorporating a bow tie into your wardrobe:
- Dress it down – the easiest way to use a bow tie is by ditching the suit jacket. Either roll up your shirt sleeves or pair it with a leather jacket (top main image: middle). In fact, this a great look for standard ties as well – jeans, shirt, tie and a leather jacket.
- Tangled up in Plaid – bow ties go perfect with a plaid shirt. Just make sure that you compliment yourself! And I mean this in its simplest form, so if you’re wearing a red and black shirt then stick to a red and/or black tie. I think if you’re bow tie is too loud it looks extremely distasteful. You’re wearing a bow tie OK, no need to scream it!
- Brace Yourself – why not pair another old-school item with another? Obviously a tie bar is out of the question so why not reach for some braces? Just make sure they don’t clash with the tie and you’ll look classic and cutting edge all at the same tie. For more information on braces, see my recent article.
So there you have it, some basic ideas and a platform for you to start introducing bow ties into your every day outfits. I’m a big tie fan myself so I love having a different option available whenever I knot up in the morning. Not only that but they really are not that common at the moment! It’s a great opportunity to create an individual look for yourself.