The Bow Tie | A Love/Hate Relationship

bow tiePee Wee Herman

The bow tie is probably the most polarizing accessory in menswear.  Guys tend to either love ’em or hate ’em.  I say, if you want to wear them, you must be confident and know a few things right from the get go–

1.) Don’t think you’re being original– some say the bow tie is the most unoriginal attempt to be original.  I’ve even heard them referred to as the nose-ring equivalent for conservatives– that one always gives me a chuckle.  

2.) Don’t wear them often, or where you know you’ll be one of many donning a bow tie.

3.) Some guys will think you’re a pompous tool– the bow tie can be like wearing the middle finger around your neck.  It just flat-out turns some people off. 

4.) Some guys will think you’re a nerd or lightweight– think Pee Wee Herman or Orville Redenbacher.

5.) They look best when you’re well-layered.  They bow tie can easily be underwhelming when there is a lot of shirt showing.  A sweater or vest will nicely frame a bow tie and make it pop with more power.

Personally, I stay away from them.  They just aren’t my flavor, and I have absolutely no desire to be known as that guy in the bow tie.  The bow tie is something that to me, always feels better in a nostalgic “looking back” kind of way.  I know guys that can definitely pull them off, but that guy isn’t me.  We have to know our limits– I’m no Andre 3000.


Truman bow tie

Harry Truman crushing it in a hand-knit sweater and bow tie.


Maurice ChevalierHumphrey Bogart bow tie

Maurice Chevalier  &  Humphrey Bogart

Poet William YeatsJohn Galsworthy

Poet William Yeats & Writer John Galsworthy

Mark Twain bow tie

Mark Twain

boatneck and bow tie

Antonio AKA 13th & Wolf

11 thoughts on “The Bow Tie | A Love/Hate Relationship

  1. Pingback: The Bow Tie | A Love/Hate Relationship

  2. too many of your reasons for not wearing a bowtie start with “people will think…”

    who cares?

  3. Sam-

    I guess by “some guys” I really was saying that is generally my perception. Rarely do I like a bow tie on someone, but when I do I REALLY like it.



  4. I was a bit leary of the bow tie about a year ago. Then I bought my first one and now I love them. I may wear one every week or so. The trick is to make them just what you said, “the accessory” not the outfit. Wear the bow tie, don’t let them wear you. It’s funny, your first two photos are of 2 tools wearing bow ties. The rest of your photos show them as they should be…classic. The bow tie is an admission to a club “Those who can tie one”. Tie one on!

  5. Yeah, He’s cute…I’m guessing that right after this photo was taken someone ran by and knocked the books right out of his hand though.

  6. As to rule #3: In Europe, it is adviced that when one switches to a bow tie (preferably above the age of 50) one doesn’t switch back. That is: you are either a man with a bow tie or you are not. Wearing it just sometimes is looked upon as a gimmick, while it ought to be a part of one’s ‘look’.

    Also, on the continent it is often called a ‘homo propellor’: not everyone thinks it is ‘classy’…

    (Please, don’t shoot the messenger…:-)

    Peronally, I very much like the Southern style soft bow tie, as worn by Col. Sanders and Mark Twain, amongst others.

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