How to pull off a bow tie

How to Pull Off a Bow Tie

Many men look at bow ties and wonder, “Can I wear this accessory?”.  It makes them uncomfortable at first and they simply don’t know what to do. The answer is unequivocally, yes.

No matter how old you are, what position you’re in, what level your style is, you can pull this off if you know how to tie it and a few more details. It’s not just for professors or doctors or men of a certain age category or income level, it’s more of an accessory that can work for anyone because it can be very flattering and it makes you stand out from the crowd.

When I started to get interested in dressing well, I had preferred ties. I was a little hesitant about bow ties because I didn’t know whether they would flatter me and what people would think of me. I also like that especially during the summer time, my body didn’t overheat as quickly because I didn’t have the additional layer of fabric that a tie provides.

Also, women and men complimented me much more frequently and I realized that bow ties are something that I should use more often. I have a huge bow tie collection that’s just as big as my regular necktie collection and for every time I wear a bow tie, I probably wear a tie once or twice.

Winston Churchill with Homburg, Bow Tie & Cigar

Winston Churchill wearing a bow tie

Why should you wear a bow tie?

  • It signals to others that you care about your outward appearance and that you’re willing to do something about it. Many other men do not wear a bow tie, it makes you instantly stand out in a positive way because it shows that you put some thought into your outfit and how you want to be perceived.
  • It really expands your outfit opportunities because a bow tie just creates a very different look for the outfit.
  • The good advantage is that a bow tie is less expensive than the regular tie because it uses less fabric and so you can easily change the look of your existing wardrobe with just the addition of a few more bow ties.
  • A bow tie looks great with a formal double-breasted suit, it can also work with single-breasted suits and a tweed jacket.

How can you pull off a bow tie?

If you don’t have one already, you should think about getting a more classic subdued bow tie because the bow tie itself is more vivid and loud. Therefore, I suggest you go with something in navy or red because they’re the first most common neckwear colors for men.

It’s essential that your bow tie is self-tie because a pre-tied bow tie looks very symmetrical and it shows. Everybody can tell that you pre-tied your bow tie and it implies that you don’t know how to do it. Overall, it just cheapens the look and it gives yourself a negative appearance.

So if you wear a bow tie, tie it yourself.  Take tome to watch this video tutorial on tying bow ties, it has helped hundreds of thousands of men to tie the bow tie every single time. It takes a little practice but you can do it too.

Once you have a bow tie in classic colors, you can expand and look at something like a houndstooth pattern or you can go for shantung stripes. Other classic patterns include Glen check, small checks, or polka dots.

To start, I suggest you try pairing it with a navy blazer. A blazer in itself is not the most formal garment and it’s often worn with khakis or gray flannel pants, you can wear it with a white shirt or a light blue shirt. The solid, dark background is the perfect stage to try something new such as wearing a bow tie. If you’re not so big into jackets, you can also wear it with just a sweater and a shirt and a bow tie. If you want to wear a bow tie to the office, it looks particularly handsome with a double breasted dark suit.

Wearing a bow tie and having to tie it yourself gives you more confidence and it shows in the way you walk and present yourself. Also, in certain situations, it can be much more helpful. For example, when you eat, you’re not going to stain your ties anymore because your bow tie sits further up. Or if you’re a doctor, you’re not going to touch your patients when you lean in; that’s the reason why a lot of doctors wear bow ties by the way.

When you buy a bow tie and you are just starting out, I suggest you get one that is adjustable to your neck size, that way you can experiment with it and you can look at the size of the knot you like, and the size of the bow tie, because if you get a thick neck size, you may not be happy with the look and it’s not something that you want to be stuck with.

All of our colored bow ties are size adjustable, only our formal ones are fixed and you can determine what your neck size is by simply measuring your neck. Otherwise, you can check them out in our Fort Belvedere webshop. We have a great selection and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’re happy to help.

When you pick a bow tie, you use the same principles of pattern matching as you would with a tie. You want it to be different and contrasting and the pattern shouldn’t be similar in size to your jacket or your shirt. For example, here I have a houndstooth, it’s a rather large houndstooth, it gives the outfit some texture, I’m pairing it with a brown tweed coat and a pastel yellow-orange dress shirt.

In this combination here, we have a green jacket and if you pick up some of the tones of green in the bow tie, so it ties it all together. Then, we have this kind of mini houndstooth pattern in blue, white, and green. That way, the patterns are distinctly different in size and the entire look harmonizes well together.

Avoid wearing a bow tie that is just solid with a solid shirt and a solid jacket because it just looks dull. Especially, when you wear it casually, try to add at least one pattern to your outfit to break up the monotonous look of just solids.

How to pull off a bow tie
Article Name
How to pull off a bow tie
A detailed guide to wearing bow ties, how to combine them to your outfits so you look dapper & stand out from the crowd.
Gentleman's Gazette
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7 replies
  1. Anthony K. Farina says:

    I have been wearing them for years. They add a touch of elegance to the well-turned out gentleman regardless of age…………AND women love them!! It may take a little courage if you’ve never worn one but trust me, it will not go unnoticed and remember to tie it yourself. NEVER, EVER, EVER wear a clip-on and that applies to wearing a rental tuxedo—–bad enough as that is, you will only look worse. I tell people if you can tie your shoes, you can tie a bow tie.

  2. Herr Doktor says:

    I wear bow ties regularly and have for years. It’s a nice change and you don’t have to worry about dripping anything on them; it gets on your shirt instead.

  3. John Maybee says:

    Dear Sven,

    I quite enjoy your emails – they are always well done and educational.

    I have taken to making my own shirts and have had a heck of a time finding 8.5mm and 11mm buttons for them. I’m hoping that your knowledge of the industry will give me an answer. I’ve been looking all over the place and the only place I’ve found that seems to have any of both sizes in the same color is The problem with their buttons are they are thicker than most standard shirt buttons and seem to me more geared to a work shirt than a dress shirt.

    If you ever do a tour through a shirt factory I’d be fascinated.

    Many thanks for your entertaining and tasteful emails.

  4. John says:

    In general, I like your blog posts and appreciate the research you put into them. Thanks 🙂

    But I have a cautionary tale about bow ties:

    I’m on the East coast of the US and bow ties have just started to become available in local menswear stores.

    I’ve seen a few men at work wearing bow ties at work. It’s certainly noticeable, because I’ve heard a lot of remarks being made by others working in the same building. Unfortunately, the remarks weren’t good… The remarks seemed to imply the person must be a dandy, a homosexual, or eccentric in an bad way.

    Since I work in a building that contains people from many different companies – I don’t think the comments can be blamed on a “stodgy” culture at one of the companies.

    In addition, I overheard some ladies discussing the “bow tie fad” at the high schools – and they also made disparaging remarks.

    I can only assume that bow ties are still a very fashion forward item on the East coast of the US.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Hey John. I think there are certain industries that accept the bow tie more readily. For instance, the legal profession, medical profession and academia tend to be more accepting of the style. Whereas, sales, banking, and finance will probably raise an eyebrow. I work at a college in the southwest, so although ties in general are not worn (I wear a tie because I am in career services), most people ignore my bow tie or react quite positively.

  5. Simple Simon says:

    I, too, have a good(ish) collection of bow-ties. One point that hasn’t been made (forgive me if I missed it) is that it’s physically impossible to drop food on a bow-tie! Drop food onto a decent silk necktie and you’re in for a dry-cleaning bill (and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up junking it because the stain wouldn’t come out).

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