How to Properly Tie a Bow Tie


The Bow Tie Guide

The notorious bow tie. Feared by some and adored by others. Men generally fall in one camp or the other. And most don’t have anything against the bow tie. Some think it’s gimmicky or only for the most formal of occasions, but most of the hate it generates is out of unfamiliarity. The men who do rock them know how stylish and bold they can be. I’m here to convince you to be in camp love.

Why You Should Wear Bow Ties

Bow ties are great. Did I mention that before? While they are slowly coming back into fashion, bow ties are still few and far between. But for you, they shouldn’t be. Bow ties display a bold sense of individuality and confidence.

Why Wear Bow Ties

Most men don’t wear one simply because they don’t know how to tie a bow tie, but by learning to do so, you proudly state that you are willing to take a risk to stand out a little from all the cogs in the machine.

Trust me, your bow tie will definitely get noticed. So, if you are trying to hide in the crowd, don’t wear one. But if want a potential conversation starter at a classy cocktail party, or you are looking to show confidence at your big presentation with a nicely kept suit, go for it.

The only thing I would highly recommend is to keep it classy and not overdo it every day. A bow tie itself is enough of a statement, you don’t something extravagant to make it overkill. And you don’t really want to wear one each and every day unless you want a bow tie to be a defining personality trait. That’s not ideal. You want it to accent your personality, not be all of it.

When to Wear a Bow Tie

The first and most obvious answer is very formal events. At white tie events, a bow tie is a must. At black tie events, a bow tie is the best option. And at other formal events, a bow tie is a classy and classic option.

When Wear a Bow Tie

For cocktail parties, business events, and daily business wear, bow ties are definitely an acceptable option. Just remember to not go overboard.

In today’s more casual style world. Bow ties are worn with casual daily outfits. This is a very bold look but can be pulled off with confidence.

How to Tie a Bow Tie

It doesn’t matter when you want to wear a bow tie if you don’t know how to tie one. It really isn’t any more difficult than tying a regular necktie or even shoelaces. It just takes a little practice to get it right and then you’ll be tying them like it’s second nature.

I’m going to attempt to give instructions on how to properly tie a bow tie without any graphic or image assistance. This will be rather difficult, especially for all you bow tie beginners out there, since we’re all very visual learners these days. But let’s see if I can pull it off.

Step 1 – Start with the bow tie seams down around your collar and on your chest. Make sure one side, your dominant hand side, is a few inches longer than the other.

Step 2 – Bring the longer side over the shorter side and then up and under the neck loop.

Step 3 – Keep the longer side up, pull the loop tight around your neck, not to tight, and drape the long side over your shoulder.

Step 4 – Fold the shorter end, the one hanging down, to left and then back to the right. The result should be the bow shape as you want it to look when tied. So it needs to be parallel to the ground at this point.

Step 5 – Pull the long end down over the top of the bow you just made. Make sure that this end is hanging down over the center of the bow shape you just made. There should also be a little loop above the bow now.

Step 6 – Fold the hanging end back towards your chest and pinch the fold, making another bow shape with this end. This is the hardest step to grasp without any visual aid.

Step 7 – Take that pinched end, pull it up behind the first bow, and put it through the loop at the top of the tie. Pull this folded end thought loop. This should create another bow shape directly behind the first bow shape you made. Each side of the bow should now have one folded end and one open end next to each other.

Step 8 – Pull the folded ends of the bow slightly and gradually to tighten the knot in the middle.

Step 9 – Adjust and balance the entire as needed. It shouldn’t be absolutely perfect. The asymmetrical qualities of your bow tie add character and show that you tied it yourself.

Now that you’ve been given flawless instructions on how to tie a bow tie, remember that the width of the tie should never be wider or slimmer than your face, not including your ears. This is the right size not make your head look comically large or small.

Just in the off chance that those instructions weren’t perfect, here’s a link with a helpful graphic so you can see the steps and here’s a link to a nice YouTube video.

Bow Tie Styles

There are a few different bow tie types out there, and the number one rule with bow ties is to always tie it yourself. Don’t ever us a clip-on or a pre-tied bow tie. Ever. They are tacky and obvious. If you’re reading this article on how to tie a bow tie, I hope you aren’t even considering one of these options.

Bow ties are generally one size fits all. They can usually accommodate neck sizes anywhere from 14-18 inches. There are also adjustable bow ties which are pretty cool. These generally have a hook-and-hole system to allow you to change the length of your bow tie before tying it to make sure you get the tie and knot size where you want it.

Bow Tie Styles

Now onto the different bow tie shapes you should know. The first is the Butterfly. This the most common and familiar bow tie shape. The main one you think about when you think of bow ties. It has a little smaller knot than other shapes and larger tips. It’s appropriate for every occasion and is the best type of bow tie to start with.

Next is the Batwing. This is the slimmest and most symmetrical of bow ties. Each end is only slightly larger than the center knot. Some consider it less formal than the butterfly but it’s not really. It is fine to wear on any occasion.

Lastly, there is the Diamond Point bow tie. This is the most asymmetrical of the three. The size is in between the batwing and the butterfly and it has a pointed tip on each end of the tie. It is definitely a little less formal than the other two as it is the least common, though no less bold.

The final tip I’ll give about styling bow ties is to keep them relatively tame. The same rules that apply to matching neckties to your outfit apply to bow ties, except more often than not they tend to be the focal point of the ensemble. So just don’t make them too bold or wildly patterned, as a bow tie itself is a bold enough statement.

Tie the Knot

Tie The Knot - Final Thoughts

Bow ties are back, baby! Actually, they never really go out of style, so I guess they’re just timeless. And bold and timeless is never a bad style choice. Don’t let the fear of the unknown deter you from wearing a bow tie. Buy one, practice tying it several times, get it done right, and rock it with the subtle confidence that is sure to get noticed.