Subtle Swagger: The Essential Guide to Wearing a Bow Tie

You'll have a tough time finding an accessory more elegant and dapper than a bow tie. Learn the foundational knowledge that will help you rock it at your next big event.

Image CreditAklasu

There's nothing basic about it. Wearing a bow tie is a statement. It's the kind of accessory that emanates confidence and sophistication.

It's James Bond at the baccarat table. You're not there to be average. You wear a bow tie to be outstanding.

It's a statement of your personality: fearless, confident and elegant.

When it's worn right.

When you falter at wearing a bowtie, you get less James Bond and more Roger Rabbit: cartoonish and goofy.

Let's avoid that, shall we?

In this article, we'll discuss different bow ties and signs of quality you should look out for. Then we'll share critical guidelines that make bow ties the perfect element of timeless sartorial style.

Take a seat. Make yourself a martini (shaken or stirred), and let's make the bow tie part of your wardrobe.

The Big 3 in Bow Ties

Butterfly bow ties have blades shaped like butterflies, with the narrow center (or body of the butterfly) forming the knot and the wings opening wider to the sides. They generally come in two sizes: big or a smaller "thistle" shape.

The thistle-shaped butterfly bow tie works well for a multitude of occasions. The bigger butterfly isn't as versatile. Size and proportion matter when it comes to bow ties. The larger butterfly is best suited for bigger or taller men on formal occasions. Without the proper context or a smaller frame, the big butterfly bow tie creates that "Roger Rabbit" look we want to avoid.

Looking for a sleeker look than the butterfly? We present the batwing bow tie.

Batwing bow ties have blades cut precisely straight to give their wearer a slick, understated and undeniably charming look that has become synonymous with the most iconic bow tie wearers through the years. This is the oldest and most well-established type of bow tie shape that's considered a classic today.

We're firm believers that the batwing bow tie provides the perfect shape and style for the modern gentleman. Need convincing? Read The Essential Bow Tie for the Modern Gentleman.

Finally, there's the diamond point bow tie. The most angular of all bow ties, they end to a point at either end of the bow tie. Diamond point ties create delightfully asymmetrical bows with the point facing outwards on one side and backwards (towards the neck) on the other.

Now that you know the best bow tie shapes, it's time for you to learn how to buy a high-quality bow tie. 

Two Signs of Quality You Can't Ignore When Buying a Bow Tie

Fabric

When you aim for high standards of quality and timeless style, don't veer too far from bow ties cut from silk, grosgrain, or velvet. These fabrics' rich texture and lustre elevate bow ties from a kitschy accessory to an elegant, eye-catching element in your outfit.

Adjuster

A bow tie of high quality will have an adjuster. It allows you to adjust the bow tie, so it fits perfectly with your proportions.

Here at Aklasu, we offer a prestigious bow tie made of 100% silk from Como, Italy – the world's silk capital. AND it comes with smooth metal sliders to ensure that adjustments don't damage the silk. For a bow tie with durability that matches its style, take a closer look at our black batwing bow tie.

We've touched on fit being a hallmark of bow tie style. But what else do you need to know to execute a timeless style with a bow tie? 

It's easier than you think.

The 3 Pillars of Bow Tie Style

It's a bow tie, not a bow clip.

Industrialization brought advances on many fronts - not bow ties.

Some bow ties (usually of low to average quality) come ready-tied, with the bow sewn in place. These 'clip-on' pre-tied bow ties either clip around the neck or directly on the collar. Clip-on bow ties are usually considered of inferior quality than traditional self-tied bow ties. 

Don't undermine the elegance you can exude with a high-quality bow tie. Take a few extra moments and make some effort to tie your own tie. You won't regret it.

Like always, fit, and the right proportions will win the day.

Like the rest of your outfit - fit comes first. Your bow tie is no exception.

Look in the mirror to make sure your bow tie is the right size. It should fit firmly. It shouldn't choke you. 

The ends of the bow should line up with the width of your face. The bow tie shouldn't extend past your ears. And if it's narrower than the outer point of your eyes, it's too small for you.

Fit and proportions are critical. A high-quality bow tie with an adjuster will help you make the most out of your elegant accessory.

Strike "jazzy" and "novelty" from your vocabulary.

Sure, that bow tie with a Canadian flag is tempting. But these novelty bow ties are fleeting, so avoid them at all costs.

By all means, have fun pairing patterns and colours. But go about it tastefully. You're likely wearing a bow tie to a formal event - probably with a photographer.

You don't want to look at pictures in a few years and wonder why you decided to dress like a clown.

You want to look back on pictures of you in your bow tie and get excited to wear it again. Because you didn't just pull off wearing a bow tie. You owned it.

Confidence breeds confidence. And you should be confident. You've learned a skill that you can showcase to the world at your pleasure.

The only thing left to do now is hit the baccarat table!

WARNING: Bow Ties DO NOT Make You Good at Baccarat 

Take a moment to inspect our Black Batwing Bow Tie. Its classic shape, exquisite material and superior construction make it a great addition to your wardrobe.

For more style advice and inspiration, read more topics in our Journal.