Whether Ross’ bold fashion statement, combined with his being chosen as the 8th overall pick for the Toronto Raptors, was enough to send us running to buy and then Google the correct way to wear a bowtie, has yet to be determined. We know that style may not always equal success but if the mantra about looking good and playing good holds true, we’ll most likely see an increase in “how to tie a bowtie” searches flooding YouTube sometime over the next few months.
Given the extent to which Ross’ risky fashion choice has been blogged about, talked about, built up and shot down, we’ve finally decided to throw in our two cents and speak up about just how much we love; the bowtie. Why, you ask?
Despite the popularity of bowties with some of Hollywood’s leading men throughout the twentieth century (James Bond is a shining example), popular opinion from five years ago showed that bowties made men look “older, fidgety, dull, more ‘scientific’ and a little weird”.
Thankfully it’s a new age and the bowtie is back with a vengeance. Wearing a bowtie, as Ross demonstrates so well with his powerhouse outfit at the draft this year, doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck-up, snobby, conservative, old-fashion or on the brink of retirement. Quite the opposite in fact – in this day and age, wearing a bowtie exudes confidence, good humour and a hint of pizzazz.
That said, some men are still hesitant to tie the knot, and we can’t blame them. From buying to tying, bowties are complicated. Don’t panic! We’re here to help.
1. Decide: Self-Tie or Clip-On
When it comes to picking the bowtie that’s right for you, you’ll have to choose your colour, style and material. But first, however, you’ll have to decide whether you’re in the market for a tie-up or a clip-on.
Don’t be embarrassed–both are acceptable thanks to companies like Band of Outsiders, who, according to GQ, are bringing the clip-on tie back in style.
If you do opt for tie-up, don’t get hung-up over tying the knot. GQ experts suggest that: “If you tie your own bow tie and it’s a little floppy or off-kilter, don’t sweat it. It’s not supposed to look perfect; it’s supposed to look real.”
2. Choose a Style, Material and Colour
Once you’ve chosen whether you’ll tie or clip one on, you’ll need to choose a style. The style of the bowtie is mostly determined by the size of the tie (slim line vs. jumbo bowtie and so on).
Take a look at what’s offered in-store and be sure to match the size of your head with that of the bowtie. Small heads shouldn’t be shown up by what lies beneath, and so on.
Next up: choose a material. Once again, the choices are abundant. Here’s what our friends at GQ have to say about it: “Look closely at these bow ties and you’ll notice that most of them aren’t the shiny, silky ones you’re used to seeing. Instead, the most interesting ones these days are often crafted from more textural fabrics, like suiting wools, flannels, hopsack, and even selvage denim. Come spring, look for ones made from seersucker, madras, and straight cotton.”
Keep in mind that different occasions call for different textures of bowtie. A formal affair still calls for a traditional silk bowtie while daytime outings and casual wear can be paired with just about anything.
Finally, you have the luxury of choosing from an endless array of colours. Since this choice can be particularly overwhelming, Bows-n-ties, an online site for bowtie enthusiasts, suggests that you carefully consider not only the occasion and dress code, but also the time of day, your ensemble, as well as your facial features and proportions. Here’s the low-down on how to choose the right colour for you:
Black, White and Silver: Most popular for black tie affairs, classic tuxedo and either waistcoat or cummerbund. All are formal and elegant however black is suitable only for night time outings. Silver is a great stand-in for daytime occasions.
Bright Colours: Common for weddings and are typically matched with a handkerchief. Generally bright colours and pastels are popular during the spring and summer. Keep in mind, the shinier the bow, the more formal it will appear.
Patterns: Popular among tie enthusiasts, these bowties are more casual, can be worn during the day and are typically matched with sports coats or blazer jackets as opposed to complete suits.
3. Wear and Pair it
Now that you’ve gone through the agony of picking out the perfect bowtie, you need to know how to pair it with the rest of your wardrobe.
To avoid a total bowtie blunder, the bowtie gurus at beyondfabric suggest that beginners take it easy and balance things out by combining either a solid bowtie and a patterned shirt (stripes, patterns etc), or a patterned tie with a solid shirt underneath. Once you get the hang of things, feel free to experiment by mixing colours, patterns and materials to create your own look. High collars, low collars, winged collars or no collars (okay, maybe it’s only the Playboy bunnies who can pull that off). Today, mostly any top can be paired with a bowtie taking the stress off finding that perfect shirt.
If you’re aching to wear a bowtie and looking to dress it down, GQ suggests ditching the suit jacket and sporting a leather jacket instead, or simply rolling up your sleeves. An ounce of class with a dash of arrogance: you’ll have a sporty look with an elegant finish.