Bow Tie 101 – All about the Bow Tie – Should you wear one?


A Bow Tie, also known as a dickie-bow is essentially a formal accessory commonly worn with a tuxedo/suit for men. The bow tie is typically made out of silk/polyestor/cotton and is symmetrically tied around the collar forming a loop on either side of the knot. When it comes to bow ties, there is  the “self-tie” version and the “clip-on.” The clip-on doesn’t require you to tie the bow-tie (which does require knowledge of how to do so – see our how to tie a bow tie article) as opposed to the “self-tie” bow tie.

It is uncertain whether the neck-tie or bow-tie first came into existence. What is known is that they were both inspired by neck-scarves worn by Croatian Missionaries during the Prussian Wars of the 17th Century. The word cravat which the neck-tie was originally known as is inspired by the French word for Croat.

The bow-tie itself is usually designed for a specific neck size. Although there are also one-size-fits-all bow-ties, these cannot be worn with wing tip collared shirts as this type of collar will expose the buckling of the cloth due to the adjusting – not a great sight.

Bow-ties are stereotypically known to be worn by University Professors, Politicians, and Architects,  and more so in Europe than in North America. The bow-tie does also have some practical application for certain professions. For example, a pediatrician would benefit from a bow tie since it is not as easily grabbed by his patients :)

Either way, the bow tie is less commonly worn than the neck-tie and this typically means that it will add a level of uniqueness to your look – i.e. heads will turn so add one to your wardrobe.


  1. 1

    Alexandre Michaud

    December 3, 2010

    6:45 am

    I am afraid the bow tie worn with a normal suit is always an indication of misplaced eccentricity. Don’t be seen as an original or Freemason by doing so, even if you are one. The bow tie, indeed, is reserved for the tuxedos and frack suits. The great intellectual qualities of an University teacher alas is of no value for determining whether or not he has style, and I must suggest that the pediatricians of this world use tie clips.

  2. 2

    Daniel Windham

    July 13, 2012

    9:47 am

    Well, Alexandre, you must not be noticing the way young people dress recently. In the last year, bow ties are back in. I know many guys in the lower 20s who go to formals, banquets, meetings, and general suit-wear sporting a bow tie with pattern, texture, or bright color. I would agree that if your entire style in suits is every-day bow ties… maybe that’s too much. But confidently throwing in a bow tie occasionally won’t label you as professor eccentric.

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