The Bow Tie
Credit: Photograph by Huckleberry McQueen

The bow tie is the oldest necktie still in use today. The knotting technique dates back to the 17th century when aristocrats used to tie lace cravats around their necks. More diminutive silk versions akin to what we wear today were also popular in Regency-era England - and the bow tie has variously come in and out of style ever since. Today, the bow tie tends to be worn by the sort of man who wants his attention to detail noticed. As such, bow ties are found in a pleasing variety of materials and patterns and are appropriate to wear in really any setting. Cotton or wool styles are good for smart casual dressing, and silk satin or grosgrain styles are still go-to options for formal wear.


  1. Start by draping the bow tie around your neck, seam side down, so that the end on your right is about 1.5 to 2 inches longer than on your left.
  2. Cross the long end over the shorter end, and pull it up through the loop to form a simple overhand knot. Tighten this to the desired tightness – loose enough so you can still maneuver the tie, tight enough so it doesn't dangle off your collar when finished.
  3. Pull the dangling, shorter end to your left, and fold it over itself to the right. Pinch this fold to the loop around your neck; it's going to be the front of the tie when you're finished.
  4. Bring the longer end down over the front of the folded end, and – while pinching the folded end with one hand – feed the longer end up behind the bottom of the knot, pulling the middle through the loop you made behind the already folded end. (It's very much like tying a shoelace.)
  5. Pull on opposite halves at the same time to tighten, and adjust your bow tie.