National Bow Tie Day is fast-approaching — August 28th, in case you forgot. With a view to NBTD, we have updated this article by R J Firchau (August 23, 2016). 


Not all men feel comfortable in bow ties, and many are apprehensive about the prospect of wearing one. We acknowledge that bow ties can be a little daunting for men who know them mainly by second-hand acquaintance. For every spine-tingling bow tie scene in any Bond film, there are scores of characters in period dramas and classic films wearing them — and not every one of them would be an ideal spokesman for the bow tie. Sinatra wore one, aye — as do half-dozen cartoon characters. Although there was a time when most men had one or more bow ties – because: a bow tie is a tie, and men wear ties – it is no longer possible to wear a bow tie subtly or inconspicuously. For better or worse,  bow ties attract attention. You will be noticed. (The last time I wore a bow tie, I received enthusiastic compliments from two strangers — back to back. That was a record. Ed.)  Whatever else it may do for you, a bow tie shows that you put thought into your ensemble. Wear the right tie in the right way, and you’ll be in line for compliments too. The slim-profile “skinny bow tie” might be the place to start.


Skinny Bow Tie Chart


A skinny bow tie is about ⅔ the width of a regular bow. Skinny bow ties have re-entered the menswear scene, but it is unlikely that they are any newer than low-profile butterfly-style bow ties — and those have been around for a while. Updated variations of bow ties styles are perhaps reactions to the trends with neckties generally, which in recent years have returned to slimmer profiles we saw in abundance in days past — indeed, what’s past is prologue.


Styles have changed, though, so here are three ways to coordinate your skinny bow tie with the confidence of a master. 

Bow Tie Casual


With casual ensembles, bow ties can work very well. The key is to play with interesting textures, colors, and patterns. Younger men can achieve an interesting look with a skinny bow paired with high- texture trousers and a contrasting shirt.

Shop the Look: Katie Bow

Bow Tie Business Casual


Skinny bow ties are perfect for creatives working in business-casual environments. The tie says business, the rest of the arrangement says casual, and done well the ensuing look is a creative take on office-appropriate garb. Sharper contrasts between shirt and bow keep things light, while smart shoes keep things from becoming too playful.

Shop the Look: Seagoville Bow

Bow Tie Formal


With a dress shirt and blazer, the slim, sleek look of a skinny bow tie – or of any low-profile batwing bow tie – keeps an ensemble classy. If there is a pattern in the shirt or jacket, stick to round, solid colors (like deep blue, navy, burgundy, and Hunter and green). If your shirt and blazer are solid, consider choosing a paisley or striped bow. A tailored suit jacket makes the difference. Don’t neglect a pocket square — coordinate but do not “match” it to the tie.

Shop the Look: Tioga Bow


This article was edited by Ellis Perry on July 27, 2017.


Know Thy Bow

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