How to Tie a Bow Tie & Wear a Bow Tie Like a Pro
Knowing how to tie a bow tie for the first time isn’t as easy as people think, but once you’ve got it figured out you’ll find it pretty simple to repeat.
But why should you learn how to tie a bow tie?
Bow ties have been a staple men's accessory for a very long time, and while it might have had peaks of popularity at certain points, they have never gone out of fashion, and show no sign of doing so in the near future. While at one point, the bow tie was associated with geeks and comedic characters, this accessory has now had a successful comeback as a must-have fashion piece, even if just for special occasions like weddings.
Though the standard neck tie has become more common in use, the bow tie is arguable a much better option for events like weddings and formal dos (charity functions, proms, company dinners). The bow tie offers a neat and tidy feature to your shirt and suit, keeping it out of the way of food or looking untidy if it isn’t perfectly in place. For events that lead to a wind-down (such as a wedding), it is also much easier to undo and wear an untied bow tie than a tie, which otherwise gets left scrunched up on a table or wrapped around a drunk guy’s head like a bandana.
How to tie a bow tie
What’s the difference between a self-tie bow tie, pre-tied bow tie and clip-on bow tie?
A self-tie bow tie (self-tied bow tie or freestyle bow tie) is a bow tie you tie yourself. These create a more authentic look as a bow tie - unlike a regular tie - does not need to look perfect and can allow you to tweak it how you like. If, however, you’re wearing a bow tie as a one-off for a special occasion, such as ordering bow ties for your groomsmen, we don’t recommend you choose a self-tie in the hopes they will learn and master it in the morning. Instead, we’d recommend our pre-tied bow ties.
A pre-tied bow tie is one that has been, well, pre-tied for you. It has been manufactured in a different way to create the appearance of a bow tie that has been tied and comes on an adjustable strap that clips around the neck and can be tucked under your collar or behind the bow (do this if you’re wearing a tuxedo shirt with an exposed neck).
A pre-tied bow tie is different to a clip-on bow tie, which is the least desirable option (in our opinion). This is essentially a bow with a metal clip attached on the back, which you then clip over the top of your shirt collar for it to sit in front. We don’t make or sell these types of bow ties because we think pre-tied bow ties are so much better, look more authentic, and feel a lot more comfortable.
How to choose the right bow tie for you
Bow ties generally come in the same shape (we call it the standard shape), but you can get some that have slightly different 'wings’. A large bow tie is the same shape as a standard but with higher, more pronounced wings. A batwing bow tie is the narrow, straight-looking bow tie sometimes worn by James Bond. The diamond-point bow tie is similar in size to the Batwing but has pointed ends rather than straight. The Large Evening (also called the Butterfly Bow Tie or Angel Wing Bow Tie) is the larger vintage style droopy bow tie currently very popular on the red carpet.
If you’re unsure, always go for standard. But if you want to know which other shape would work for you, here is some advice: choose a shape proportionate to your build. If you’re of slim build, choose a narrow bow tie like a Batwing or a Diamond bow tie. If you’re broad, muscular, or plus size, go for large.
Tips on how to style a bow tie
- Don’t get cocky. As we advised earlier, think about what you need the bow tie for to decide whether you want a self-tie bow tie or one pre-tied. If you’re ordering them for your wedding, relieve yourself of the stress and time of having to learn and master how to tie a bow tie and order a pre-tied instead. This will also ensure that your bow ties are consistent in appearance, which will look a lot better in the photos. Only choose self-tie if all are confident they can master it on the day.
- Match your shapes. If you’re a big guy but choose a Batwing bow tie, it’s going to look a bit silly on you (if we are being very very honest). The same goes for short or slim-built guys ordering a large; you’re at risk of making yourself look like a clown. Literally. Keep the size of the bow proportional to your build and it will look great.
- Keep it on. The beauty of a bow tie is that it can be kept on, even when it’s time to remove your jacket and hit the dance floor. Put your cufflinks in your pocket, roll up your sleeves, and bust out your best moves without the hassle of a tie getting in the way. By keeping your bow tie on, you’ll ensure that you still look great, even in a slightly more informal style.
- match the occasion. Patterns can be tricky, but just take a moment to think about the occasion and whether a certain pattern is appropriate. If you’re going to a wedding, a floral bow tie is absolutely perfect. If you’re going to a fundraising event, you can be a little bit more fun and try one of our novelty bow ties (don’t go too novelty if it’s a serious cause), and if in doubt about a pattern, go for a dotted bow tie because they are safe in all settings.