October 23, 2010 1 Comment
Somewhere in between a group of 17th century Croatian mercenaries and Orville Redenbacher, men decided that it would look cool to start gift wrapping themselves with a silk bow around their neck. Perhaps the most unlikely fashion comeback trend of the decade, the bow tie has gone from ‘geek chic’ to becoming the ubiquitous must have fashion accessory of the season. The Gladwellian “tipping point” can be tracked back to late 2007 and early 2008, when eBay sales of bow ties jumped 34% (Source NYT). The impetus? A demographic of 16-25 year-old guys aspiring to look like David Beckham, the Jonas Brothers, and Kanye West. Well, maybe not the Jonas Brothers, but you get the point.
A sign of class, intellectualism, quirkiness, and sophistication – the bow tie is an accessory that screams look at me. For the uninformed, bow ties come in many varieties that are all essentially variations on two basic styles: the thistle and the bat wing. The thistle is the classier and wider of the two, with a wing size of around 2.25″-2.75″. You would traditionally see this style with a tuxedo or blazer with standard-to-wider lapels. It also looks great paired with a vest or cardigan. The bat wing, by contrast, is more casual and narrower with a wing size of around 1.5″ – 2″. The bat wing is easier to pull-off and will work with formal wear when paired with a narrower lapelled jacket.
Try Brooks Brothers, Band of Outsiders, Rag & Bone, Topman, who provide a wide range of plain and patterned silk, wool, cotton, and velvet bow ties at a reasonable price. There has been some debate regarding self-tie versus clip-on bow ties. Some claim that the clip-on version is a big no-no, but if you are going casual, I don’t see the problem with the clip-on. With formal black tie or semi-formal events, learn to tie a proper bow from this Southern Gent. Now get out there and make Orville proud.