The bow tie

How to wear a bow tie

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The bow tie speaks volumes about a man’s personal style. Some people find the bow tie alarming or confrontational, but regular bow tie wearers find it a liberating and expressive vehicle for adding a unique accent to an outfit.

The history of the bow tie traces it back to the seventeenth century, in the form of a development of the cravat, along with the knotted necktie, the “four hander” “Half Windsor knot” and “Windsor knot”. The bow tie, traditionally, is hand tied. There are various ways of creating the bow, and a simple way is shown in the above diagram, from the McClatchy Tribune. At Coolclobber we stock a selection of vintage bow ties and the most common self tie examples we stock include white waffle cotton, for formal occasions, and classic silk, in plain or in traditional patterns, often paisley.

There are two types of clip on bow ties, both available at Coolclobber. What you need depends on the occasion and on what type of shirt collar you are wearing.  For a formal occasion, and when wearing a wing collar, you should either tie your own tie, or wear a clip on with a collar band. These ties can be simply adjusted to your shirt collar size ( there are often size markings on the inside of the band). The tie is ready tied and sewn on to one end of the band and there’s is a simple clip behind the bow that is hidden in wear. The bow sits just beneath the wing collar and the band is visible all round your shirt collar band. These ties are very popular and easy to wear and are made in silk, rayon, polyester and other man made fabrics.  A variation, that works equally well with a standard shirt collar, has a narrow elastic adjustable back.

In the gallery photos, I have three examples of my favourite style of everyday bow tie, the patent butterfly clip on. These ties are worn with a standard shirt collar. As you can see, in wear the clip lies flat behind the bow. To use, flip the tie forward, revealing the clips in an open position. Slide one side of your shirt collar inside one side of the clip, press the front closed, repeat with the other side. The bow now lies flat and securein front of the shirt collar. These are so easy to use and always look smart. The examples above are from the 1940s and 1950s, and are good examples of popular fabrics. The brown tie is also wired in the front to keep its distinctive shape.

A vintage bow tie is an inexpensive and stylish way to add a touch of individualism to an outfit, adding a touch of distinction. A bow tie undoubtedly gets you noticed!

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