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  • Writer's pictureEvan Wolkenstein

Bow Ties 101

If you don’t already wear a bow-tie, well, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for.

Perhaps you have an image in your head that bow ties are for:

chemist with bow tie

Professor of theology

A) professors of theology

cat chemist


B) chemists

hipster v2


C) hipsters

D) Adorable children

Adorable child with bow tie.

Adorable child with bow tie

E) Dr. Who

Dr. Who

Dr. Who

But my personal research indicates that bow ties are:

A) fun

b) a little alternative

c) able to net compliments from cute baristas and bartenders.

Bow tie are for everyone.

Rules to Follow for an Optimal Bow Tie Experience

What not to do.

What not to do.

It’s most effective to start your bow-tie adventure with “what not to do.”

See image on left.

Now, the “dos.”

1. Pair a bow tie with a slim shirt shirt / jacket. 

Yes, I always prescribe slim shirts, but it goes double for bow-tie days. In the case of a bow tie, the only thing dividing “geezer chic” from “geezer” is whether everything fits you properly.

Go slim or go home.

This J. Crew outfit nails it. It's light, slim, and very much on point.

This J. Crew outfit nails it. It’s light, slim, and very much on point.

2. Go with a fabric other than shiny silk. 

You'd jump, too, if you owned this gear.

You’d jump, too, if you owned this gear.

I recommend linen or cotton, because they’re light and casual. Wool is great for cooler weather.

Shiny silk is a little… middle school marching band.

3. Go small.

Huge butterfly bow ties are for your “eccentric” uncle. For you, it’s compact and streamlined.

And lastly, the clip on / pre-tied controversy solved. 

Pre-tied bow tie: suspiciously perfect. Avoid.

Pre-tied bow tie: suspiciously perfect. Avoid.

Q: Clip on?

A: Never. Ever.

Q: Pre-tied?

A: Only if it’s thick wool. A thick-wool bow tie’s material will conceal the suspicious perfection of a pre-tied knot. Anything else will say, “I’m committing to this bow tie thing only halfway.”

And we don’t do things halfway around here.


Sold on the bow tie thing, but not sure where to start? Here are some places to begin poking around.

Forage Bow Ties: On point, especially with their denim tie.

The Hill-side: everything they make is simple, clean, and classy.

General Knot: would you like a tie made out of material salvaged from a WWII-era haberdashery? Yeah, you do.

Now, a word about ties by Thom Browne.

Remember what I said about avoiding silk? This doesn’t apply for Thom Browne. The silk is luxurious, with a buttery, matte finish. Every single tie he designs is on point: wool, linen, cotton, and even silk.

ebay: a great place to start looking for a Thom Browne bow tie. Use the “follow that search” feature, and with a little persistence, you’ll nab a tie that retails for over a hundred dollars for around $30.

Black Fleece Sale: reliably, you can nab one here for 50 or 60 dollars, and it’s well worth it.


me in bow tie

Now you have your bow tie. How do you put the damn thing on?

This diagram aint pretty, but it’s how I learned. If you’re the movie-watching type, Youtube is loaded with how-to videos, all up your alley.


See something you like and want a second opinion?

Style For Dorks is here for you!

Email Me with a link to the site, and I’ll give you a yay or a nay!

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