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Cycles of Fashion – The Bow Tie

February 23, 2013
“To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.”
—Warren St John, The New York Times[1]

Prince Charles joked that he had become a fashion icon simply by dressing the same as he always had. That’s how trends work: they come around in long cycles that make the old new again every other generation.
But where did bow ties actually come from? Here’s a great video giving a history of bow ties.

Bow ties are cool again and no doubt Dr Who is largely responsible for this. For others like me who are curious as to why Dr Who wears a bow tie here’s a great clip from an interview on SFX’s, where Matt Smith, costume designer Ray Holman and producer Piers Wenger talk to Nick Setchfield about the evolution and  design of Doctor Eleven’s sartorial style. And yes, the bow tie was Matt’s idea…

The Doctor

Ray Holman: “We had to go through tons and tons of clothes. I think I took hundreds of photographs of Matt with different ideas, and in the end it all came down to a day when we were all in the room together. We had certain elements of the costume – we knew we wanted boots, we had the trousers, the shirt, there were a couple of different coats and jackets. The tweed jacket went on him and we thought, ‘That’s it!’ And then we didn’t know if it was going to be a T-shirt, if it was going to be open-necked or if it was going to be a tie. Matt said, ‘Can I try a bow tie?’ And we all went, ‘Ugh, no, not sure!’ We got a bow tie. I actually put it on Matt’s neck and said, ‘I’m sorry about this, but let’s have a go.’ I put it on him, stepped back, and we just went, ‘Wow!’ It was a really tingly moment when we  knew we had it.”

Types of Bow ties – From I Waste So Much Time

bow tie types



Image from The Art of Manliness

Before Matt Smith, bow ties weren’t just a statement of taste. They also spoke to a conservative rebellion against vulgarian culture: a refusal to be blandly egalitarian. They’re jolly difficult to tie, which means that the effort to put one on adds a degree of philosophy to the dressing process. There’s a Taoism to bow tie wearing: one has to be in the right mind to put one on and carry it off. That requires a close shave, a clean shirt, well managed hair, shiny shoes and a jacket carefully chosen to give prominence to the tie. Throw one on haphazardly and you’ll look like an urbane tramp. – By Tim Stanley for The Telegraph

From House of Dara

cool bow tie look

From The simple solution to expert witness credibility

But not just men can wear bow ties with style …


Karl Lagerfeld

Image from Sophie Mae Style

Image from House of Dara

bow ties

Love this idea for an alternative way of wearing a bow tie

Love this idea for an alternative way of wearing a bow tie (Click on image for source)

I am sure most of you heard the saying; A gentleman is a man who uses a butter knife even when he is alone.

Just so, you can’t call your yourself a true DIY -er if you opt for a clip on instead of doing it yourself. Here’s how to tie a bow tie from Devoureth Also see how to tie a bow tie in a mirror

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Darwin permalink
    February 27, 2013 11:58 pm

    Great article. The bow tie is a timeless piece that is emerging again as a fashion contender.

  2. March 12, 2013 4:31 am

    Bow ties are definitely cool, but in the true sense of the word (eg. they’re for people who like style, regardless of what the people around them think).

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