Lots of bloggers love bow ties. Lots of them hate them. There seem to be a lot of love/hate items in this whole menswear thing that’s going on. I, for one, am kind of in the middle. I own two bow ties, though, to be fair, one is a black silk number meant for formal occasions (I wore it as the best man for my brother’s wedding), so really I only have one for day-to-day use. It’s light blue with orange and white kidney-shaped spots like you’d see on paisley.
LAS says that he dislikes bowties because, and I’m paraphrasing here, they’re a crutch for people with little originality and not very good style—they’re an item that you can wear and people will think you’re stylish even though you’re not. I saw that in my boarding school, a not quite School Ties-ish smorgasbord of bunches of white elite fundie-type kids (no offence meant, though I’m sure some might be taken) mixed in with smaller numbers of just about everything else. Kids wore bow ties because they were different. It was peacocking. It said, “Look at me! I’m cool.”
But, bow ties are more than that. They’re a classic piece. They’re distinct. The only thing you should wear for formal events of the black or white-tie nature. But how do you wear them in real life while balancing the douchery and the view that the bow is merely a crutch? It is certainly a personal conundrum, but I think it can be done. It should not be the first thing you add to your wardrobe—I’ll admit I would happily return mine and go for a few other items first. Still, I think bow ties are beautiful. It took me hours to learn to tie one properly, but I am so proud of it. I was one of a handful of guys at my senior prom wearing real bow ties—and might have been the only one who actually tied it himself. I tied my brother’s bow tie before his wedding. There’s something beautiful in that. I guess the memories and nostalgia have merged with the item a bit. But maybe that’s what makes bow ties so special. They have a certain sense of history—a sophistication that reminds you of British gents and a totally different era. They convey a feeling that just doesn’t come through wearing a regular tie. If you’re trying to emulate the style icons of the 50’s and their Mad Men counterparts, you wear a simple dark, slim tie. When you’re looking for sophistication, that certain je ne sais quoi, you put on a bow tie—and you take the time to tie it yourself. It’ll never be perfect, but it’s that personal touch that really make bow ties wonderful. When you tie a bow tie, it will be askew, the loop may even not be flat, but it’s an elegant nonchalance that, when executed well, adds icing on the cake to an already well-rounded gentlemen.
Wooster & Denim guy from Jak & Jil and Mister Mort.