Be Bold. Be Brave. Bow Tie Basics For The Modern Gentleman

Bow ties are truly a classic accessory and thankfully, they have ventured away from being seen only at black tie affairs. First appearing in the 17th century, bow ties have traditionally exuded a more formal, dapper air, however, increasingly they are appearing in less formal settings.

And the Style Magnate approves.

Colorful and patterned bow ties are popping up in offices, restaurants, and happy hours as a creative accessory to a more casual, yet carefully selected outfit. They are a great way to mix it up a bit, show some personality and exude some confidence.


Black bow tie
In general, the type of bow tie worn is the wearer’s choice and a matter of preference.

The butterfly shape is the traditional look with width of about 3 to 3.5 inches - usually the widest measurement for a bow tie.

The semi-butterfly style maintains the classic shape but is less wide - an inch or so narrower.

The batwing tie is much thinner and straight instead of the angular look of the original. Think of it as the skinny tie equivalent. This look is most modern and can also pair well at a non-formal event.

The pointed bow tie features diamond shaped ends instead of triangles - a new take on the traditional.

Self-Tied or Pre-Tied

Firstly - self-tied is always the way to go.

It's that simple really.

The risk of wearing a pre-tied tie is that someone will notice and then any credibility you had is immediately lost.

Self-tied bow ties avoid a completely symmetrical look, which can often look overdone. The asymmetry will not only show that you know how to tie a bow tie, but also give a more classic air.

The truth is, a bow tie is fairly simple to tie - it's a bow.


Silk is a classic bow tie material and generally the proper choice for a formal affair.

Wool is also an excellent choice, suitable for both formal and casual occasions. Sarah Robinson, founder of Scottish-owned Robinson & Dapper is very passionate about incorporating the traditional wool fabrics she grew up with and is enthusiastic about their versatility:
"At Robinson & Dapper, we choose each fabric supplier for their specialty, whether it’s lambswool, tweed or twill. We incorporate a variety of colours, weaves and weights of wool, as well as more classic textiles, making our bow-ties suitable for both formal and casual wear" - Sarah Robinson, Robinson & Dapper

Robinson & Dapper - Wool Bow Tie
Wool - the material of choice at Robinson & Dapper

In other circumstances, a simple cotton tie is perfect in the warmer months and during more casual events.

A more daring choice is the velvet bow tie - also most appropriate in black at a formal event.


Most importantly, the bow tie size must be proportional to the wearer’s face and overall body size.

Skinnier bow tie
Skinnier ties are better on a slimmer man while a traditional tie which is wider may be preferred on a more built figure. The tie should never be wider than the face or collar.

Fixed length ties are readily available and preferred as they are made in proportion to the neck size. One-size fits all ties require a slide clasp to make adjustments for the extra length. Such clasps often peak and are an unwanted addition to an otherwise well dressed look.

A Few Extra Tips

The bow tie, unless in classic black with a matching tuxedo, is always a statement. Some additional tips to keep it smooth and stylish:

Cool bow tie guy
  • Ensure that the colour and pattern of the tie compliments the rest of the outfit. To start off with, stick to solid colours such as navy, burgundy, brown, and grey. Once you have more experience mixing and matching, venture into patterns and bolder colours.
  • In general, if your outfit is loud in colour, pattern, and/or style, chose a neutral bow tie that completes the outfit with a classic touch.
  • A loose bow tie does not carry the attractiveness of a regular tie. Always keep the bow tie tied tight.
  • At black tie affairs, a black, self-tied tie is always the right choice. 

So, what are you waiting for? It's time to step it up. Be bold, be brave, and be cool and confident. Take the bow tie for a spin. Armed with the right perfectly fitted shirt, we think you won't be turning back.

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