Eight Rules For Wearing A Bow Tie Like A Boss

02 September 2019
Mens, Style, Bow tie, Fashion, Men Of The Year Awards
It’s not as simple as it sounds...

With GQ’s inaugural Men Of The Year Awards just around the corner we’ve found ourselves thinking about dress codes more than usual of late.

Specifically speaking, we’ve found ourselves thinking more about dress codes which include the word “tie” in them.

So here, to help you get your black-tie look right the first time, every time (whether you're attending the awards or not), is our ultimate guide to pulling off the most important part of your outfit – the bow tie itself.

1. If at all possible, opt for self-tie

There is nothing that looks chicer or demonstrates a certain kind of masculine dexterity with more elegance than a self-tied bow tie. Sure, the technique may be a pig to master, and yes the scant regularity with which you wear one may not seem like sufficient justification to bother learning how to tie the damn thing, but you’ll never look as good as Paul Newman wearing black tie in that gondola if you don’t try, now will you? Also, always remember that you can only ever wear a self-tie bow tie with a wingtip shirt as the entire band will be visible around your neck if you do.

2. But if that's not possible, ensure you opt for a very high quality pre-tied

There are pre-tied bow ties and then there are pre-tied bow ties. If you do insist on wearing one, ensure you opt for something high quality from a brand you won’t mind people seeing the label of as it peeks out from under your collar (it is imperative that you don’t allow this to happen). An ultra-foppish, extra-large Tom Ford bow tie, for instance (which, let’s face it, would be a nightmare to try to tie yourself anyway).

3. Avoid anything ‘jazzy’ at all costs

It’s a general rule in life that any item prefixed with either the word “jazzy” or, even worse, “novelty” should be avoided at all costs. Anything featuring cartoon characters, political slogans, flags, reimagined works of art or pornography must never be worn – and don’t even think about choosing something which spins. Shudder.

4. But 'personality' is fine

Personality, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing. One of Gucci’s Seventies-inspired, horsebit-adorned numbers, for instance, will look modish and knowing, while an ultra-floppy silk bow tie from Lanvin or Tom Ford will make you look like Seventies-era Yves Saint Laurent. So long as there’s a modicum of taste in the way you wear your tie (and the care label doesn’t read “Keep away from fire”) you’ll be fine.

5. Big if you’re bigger, small if you’re smaller

Don’t be tempted to try to add flair to your look with an oversized bow tie if you’re undersized, as it will only drown you. Something smaller and neater will work far better. If, however, you’re over six foot and broad, go for it.

6. Ensure you’re wearing the correct suit and shirt

Bow ties, in our opinion, should never be worn with anything other than a tuxedo – either a velvet jacket and some classic grosgrain trousers, a classic white-tie look (in which case you should only, rather obviously, wear a white tie) or, indeed, a classic black or midnight blue dress suit. And that’s it. A bow tie worn with a classic lounge suit or – even worse – separates will make you look like Doctor Who at best and a member of the Big Bang Theory cast at worst.

7. Never arrive with your bow tie untied

Ending the night with your bow tie undone, hanging loosely around your neck à la Ryan Gosling at Cannes is one thing. Starting the night with it undone, however, is another entirely. And, what's more, it's completely socially unacceptable. Stick to the arguably quite basic rule of wearing your bow tie tied and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

8. It’s silk, velvet, grosgrain or nothing

A bow tie in cotton, corduroy, nylon or wool will look affected and silly. There’s a reason most bow ties are cut from silk, grosgrain or velvet. These are fabrics which by their very textures, lustres and rich collective histories denote elegance and only elegance – and for that reason they are the only fabrics that bow ties should be made from.

Via British GQ