The bow tie is a controversial item. Beloved by dandies, college professors, and the sartorially adventurous. Generally not appropriate for most business settings, the bow tie is the rare menswear item that has a cult following alongside a cult loathing.
In a world where it’s acceptable to wear faded jeans and sneakers to a decent restaurant, the act of wearing a bow tie shows an admirably aggressive disregard for the casual sartorial world we inhabit.
This article will deal with the different types of bow ties, how to work them into your wardrobe, and the best brands that sell bow ties:
- Where To Buy The Best Bow Ties
- How Bow Ties Should Fit
- Tying A Bow Tie
- When To Wear A Bow Tie
- Bow Tie Styles
- Making Your Own Bowtie
- Why You Should Avoid Pre-Tied Bow Ties
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Top 10 Best Bow Tie Brands
While bow ties are a little more enigmatic than regular neckties, they can still be found in most menswear and department stores. However, few offer good value for money and many are just pre-tied bow ties.
Instead, you can find the best bow ties through the following 10 brands:
- The Tie Bar
- Eton Shirts
- Hawes & Curtis
- Dapper Lapel
- Brooks Brothers
- Turnbull & Asser
- Charles Tyrwhitt
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If you’re looking to integrate a few bow ties of different styles into your wardrobe, your first stop should be The Tie Bar. A one-stop shop for your accessories, The Tie Bar offers an accessible balance between quality and value for money.
Additionally, their site is well-designed, making it easy to filter and organise their products according to your needs. This is quite fortunate given that they have an almost limitless range of styles!
"With an emphasis on a rich selection and affordable value for money, The Tie Bar is our favourite destination when developing a dapper wardrobe."
It probably goes without saying that a place like Ties.com has a rich stock of bow ties! Indeed, it’s a very similar destination to The Tie Bar and offers a plethora of different styles.
Generally, Ties.com is a little pricier than its counterpart above with bow ties retailing for around $25. However, they frequently have a few discounted models on clearance that can be picked up for as little as $5!
We’re particularly fond of Eton Shirts as they offer an intriguing Scandinavian alternative to the British Jermyn Street heritage. Indeed, this Swedish brand has been operating since 1928 and continues to put an emphasis on its premium garments.
Eton Shirt’s self-tie and ready-tied bow ties are all produced in Italy from high-quality fabrics and silks. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they’re at a premium from around $100 and above.
We’re very fond of Hawes & Curtis shirts. However, this heritage Jermyn Street brand also offers an exciting variety of accessories including bow ties. With prices starting at $39, they’re not overly expensive.
All of their ties are made from 100% silk and finished with wool underlining. As a result, they offer solid value for money and excellent quality.
With a focus on woollen woven bow ties, Dapper Lapel have an excellent selection of rustic styles that be worn on semi-casual occasions. If you’re looking for some laid-back bow ties with added texture, they’re a great option.
If you’d prefer bow ties with elaborate and original designs, we’d usually recommend The Tie Bar. However, if you’re looking for something more premium, Brooks Brothers is definitely an option worth considering.
Featuring an exciting range of patterns, fabrics, and prints, Brooks Brothers offer a variety of bow ties that really stand out and add a personal touch to your attire.
Turnbull & Asser is a serious Jermyn Street brand who has been a current Royal Warrant holder since 1980. Unlike many of its peers, its garments continue to be produced in the UK.
This includes their bow ties, which are hand-sewn in Kent by artisans from silk that is woven in Suffolk using traditional techniques. Needless to say, they’re a little pricier. However, they are beautifully-crafted from premium materials. And, they’re worn by James Bond himself!
Although Indochino is our favourite destination for picking up made-to-measure suits that provide unbeatable value, it’s often overlooked for accessories. Nevertheless, it does have a decent range of ties and pocket squares.
Given that Indochino offers group rates for weddings, it also stocks an excellent selection of bow ties for the occasion. However, these aren’t limited to classic black bow ties. Indeed, there’s a wide variety available!
We’re very fond of this respected Jermyn Street brand’s shirts and garments. While they have a solid selection of neckties, bow ties tend to be something of an afterthought. Although there will always be a black tie selection available, most are pre-tied and there are few other options for everyday wear.
Suitsupply has an excellent and reliable range of neckties yet their bow tie options can be a little sporadic. Indeed, we love some of their unique designs when they’re released but it can be inconsistent.
However, you might have to wait for the right season. While they will always have a few options for black tie and tuxedos, their website only occasionally has more outgoing everyday styles.
How A Bow Tie Should Fit
Any bow tie, regardless of its style, should be approximately the same width as your face when knotted. If a bow tie is too large, your head will look smaller. Conversely, if the bow tie is too small, your head will look enlarged.
Therefore, aim for the ends to be in line with the corners of your eyes when knotted. You will notice that the bow tie will better complement your features and offer a far better fit.
Tying A Bow Tie
We have a full page dedicated to how to tie a bow tie. Click the preceding link for an easy-to-follow, step-by-step graphic on how to tie a bow tie.
When To Wear A Bow Tie?
Their festive nature makes them an excellent choice for grooms. If worn in a workaday fashion, they tell the world that the wearer is someone who is not concerned with what the world thinks of him.
Nevertheless, as with so many things in life, good judgement is important when deciding whether to wear one. Bow ties are not for every guy, or for every situation.
If you’re making a first impression like on a date or a job interview, we advise against a bow tie. The presentation can be considered too unorthodox for these scenarios where playing it on the safer side is advisable.
We also have to dissuade folks from wearing bow ties to funerals. A key aesthetic factor of the bow tie is its whimsicality, andgiven that funerals are sombre occasions, it may be seen as too quirky.
However, if you’re already established at your office? Go for it. Lunch date with your significant other who’s well aware of your proclivity for dressing up? Why not? If you’re wearing a tuxedo or tails, you must wear a bow tie.
If you’re in a situation where you won’t be penalized for having some fun, have some fun and throw on a bow tie.
Bow Tie Styles & Pairing Them With Your Face Shape
Not all bow ties are created equal. There are three main styles that are different shapes. While anyone can theoretically wear any style bow tie, the proportions of each style are such that they work better on some faces than others.
With that said, we invite you to take five minutes to determine your face shape if you haven’t done so already.
Butterfly Bow Ties
The butterfly bow tie is also known as a “thistle” bow tie. This is arguably the most common style of bow tie and is typically seen in two sizes: regular and jumbo.
Regular-sized bow ties look good on just about any face shape while jumbo thistle bow ties are better for men with larger heads. The curved proportions of butterfly bow ties serve to balance out the angularity of Square, Triangle, and Diamond face shapes.
Batwing Bow Ties
Sometimes referred to as a “straight” bow tie, the batwing is just that: pretty much a straight line underneath the face. It exudes a sort of 1960s, Sean-Connery-as-James-Bond cool that syncs very nicely with the slimmer proportions of tailored clothing we’re seeing today.
Men of smaller stature tend to do well with batwing bow ties as the proportions of it tend to be quite slim.
Square, Triangle, and Diamond faces should stray from batwing bow tie. The angular proportions of the tie simply add more sharpness to these already-sharp face shapes. Heart and Round faces, though, will do quite well with batwing bows because that same angularity harmonizes with their softer features.
Oblong faces do well with batwings, as this tie offers the least amount of verticality and, therefore, the most width. This balances out the Oblong face’s length.
Diamond Point Bow Ties
Diamond tip bow ties have -you guessed it- tips that are diamond-shaped. These bows have a particularly dandy vibe to them, and they work well on men of any stature.
The pointiness of the tips make this tie a very good fit for faces with softer features, such as Round and Heart. Square, Triangle, and Diamond-shaped faces can get away with it but are still better off opting for a butterfly bow tie.
Making Your Own Bow Tie
For the guys out there with a bit more of a DIY ethic, we can’t strongly enough suggest that you try making your own bow tie. It’s a fun project of whose results you can be stylishly proud.
If you’d like to know how to make one, see our guide on how to make your own bow tie.
Why It’s Important To Avoid Pre-Tied Bow Ties
There are plenty of pre-tied and clip-on bow ties available for sale everywhere. This feeds into the unreasonable anxiety men have around being unable to tie bow ties. They’re the same as shoe laces, just around your neck!
You should not buy pre-tied bows unless you have a condition such as arthritis or a sports injury that prevents you from tying one comfortably.
The main reason for this gets into a deeper conversation on sprezzatura, which is the Italian concept of looking elegantly disheveled.
Sprezzatura, as it relates to the bow tie discussion, means that your bow tie is supposed to look a bit imperfect. Not only does it show that you tied it yourself (like a big boy), but it demonstrates a lack of fussiness, which is a key element of innate style.
Also, pre-tied bow ties make it look as if your head has been gift-wrapped, which is just silly.
Now that you have read our full introduction to bow ties, peruse more of our related content: