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Bow Tie 101

Move aside, necktie. There’s a new sheriff in town! It is the bow tie.
You may have picked out the perfect suit, but no ensemble is complete without the right accessories. Why not switch it up and try on a bow tie? A man who wears a bow tie exudes class and sophistication. He is not afraid to occasionally step outside his comfort zone and be daring. The bow tie has the capacity to transform your outfit from unimaginative to quirky and confident. So prepare to be the center of attention with your bow tie.

How to differentiate between the self-tie, pre-tied and clip-on bow ties
The self-tie bow tie: Also known as the freestyle, self-tie means that it comes untied and you can tie it yourself. Once tied, the natural form and slight asymmetry of the self tie shows charm and quirkiness that a pre-tied bow tie can never match.

The pre-tied bow tie: This type is attached to an adjustable neck strap. Easy to size, it can be worn in a matter of seconds. A disadvantage of a pre-tied bow tie is that it can look stiff and almost too-perfect. Any bow tie aficionado knows that a pre-tied bow will never have the same dimension or character as a self tie.

The clip-on bow tie: This is a  pre-tied bow with a metal clasp on the back that hooks directly onto the collar of a shirt. They are recommend for young children or infants, as these will look too juvenile on adults.

Sizing your bow tie
A bow tie is a one-size-fits-all affair. With a little trial and error, any adjustable bow tie should fit the average man’s neck. To measure your neck length, start by laying a dress shirt with the collar flat on an even surface. With a tape measure, measure in inches all the way around the collar band, starting and ending at the center collar button. This is your neck size. The average neck sizing of a bow tie is 14.5 inches to 17.5 inches. Adjust your bow tie to your neck size and tie it up to see how it feels. It should be snug but not uncomfortably tight.

How to tie a bow tie
Learning how to tie a bow tie is a rite of passage on the journey to becoming a true gentleman. Tying a bow tie can be difficult the first few times and takes practice to master. There are different ways to tie a bow tie.

The butterfly
This is the standard style that most people are familiar with. On average, it is around 2.3 inches in height and fits most face shapes. This particular style is very versatile and works for virtually every occasion. It is a great starting point for those who are just venturing into the world of bow ties.

The big butterfly
This has a larger and more relaxed silhouette.  It is sometimes worn for very formal events with a tuxedo. These are typically three inches or greater in height and recommended for those don’t mind looking a bit cheeky.

The batwing: The batwing shape, also known as a straight or slim bow tie, is the smallest in height. They are typically less than two inches in height and provide a clean and modern look. It is slightly less formal than the butterfly, but is still acceptable for black tie events.

The diamond point
A shape gaining popularity is the diamond tip bow tie. Instead of having a flat end, the edges are pointed to give it diamond shape. When tied, this style has an asymmetric look and adds even more personality to the self-tie bow tie. Although very stylish, these are not often seen.

The rounded club
The most rare of the bunch is the rounded club bow tie. Like the name suggests, the ends are rounded instead of flat. This style is not for the shy as it is very unique.

When a bow tie is the right tie
Formal Attire
One of the most common places you’ll see a bow tie worn is at a formal event. The most well-known formal dress code is Black Tie. When attending an affair with this dress code, the standard black tuxedo must be worn with a black bow tie, preferably in satin, silk or grosgrain material. A self-tie is especially important with this outfit as a pre-tied bow tie will immediately cheapen the look of your ensemble. Simply adding a matching cummerbund or waistcoat takes your ensemble a notch up. Another place recommended for bow ties is at a White Tie event, the most formal of all dress codes. As the name suggests, a white bow tie (always self tie) is absolutely necessary.

Semi-formal attire
When attending a semi-formal affair, try experimenting with different patterns and textures in your bow tie. Play with polka dots or striped patterns in various colors. Bow ties made with velvet or tweed material add a fun, modern feel to your ensemble. You can pair your neckwear with a classic dress shirt under a nice suit with a coordinating pocket square.

Casual attire
For casual events, wear whatever your heart desires, even if it means breaking fashion rules. Want to wear a plaid bow tie with a bright dress shirt and cardigan? Go for it! Show off your own personal style with funky patterns or bow ties made with light materials such as seersucker or linen. You could even frame your bow tie with great supporting accessories like suspenders and printed socks.

 

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