Bow Ties

It’s about time someone stood up for the bow tie.  You might think to yourself: ‘Here is a person who likes vintage dress and who has old-fashioned tastes, and therefore he probably eats dormice and likes bow ties because they’re a bit ye olde worlde‘, but in this case the opposite is true. It is my firmly held belief that most people are repelled by bow ties in spite of their inherent and frankly undeniable aceness, purely because they see them as old-fashioned without really appreciating THE FACTS. That’s what I believe in. Thomas Aquinas had God, Richard Dawkins has got bees or geese or something, and I have that. Nobody thinks twice about having a four-in-hand flapping all over their midriff like a lascivious silk octopus with one arm, but tie a bow round your neck and within a week you’re being named and shamed in the Daily Mail.

It’s one thing that it’s actually becoming quite commonplace to see a plain black four-in-hand tie replacing a black bow tie with a dinner jacket on the red carpet, but we haven’t yet reached a point where the bow tie needs propping up in that department. And then there’s general day wear. We now inhabit a world where it seems the day time bow tie has been relegated to an indicator of  likely malpractice in the medical profession, or the uniform of academics who are too old to be chasing a book or TV contract.

BBC Doctors' Heston

Heston from BBC's Doctors, facing a GMC tribunal for the intentional killing of the Bow Tie and Gilbert & Sullivan

Now it’s one thing to be a bit off-trend as evening wear and embarrassingly ‘fogeyish’ as informal day wear. It hurts me, but I live with it. It’s a bit upsetting that ‘cooky’ Hoxton morons wear it ironically or because of Dr. Who, if only because we all know when that trend dies the bow tie will slip even further from popularity’s grasp; but to be utterly forgotten? That really is a fate worse than BBC’s Doctors.

You see, nobody wears a bow tie with morning dress anymore. I can only guess that most people don’t even realise it’s perfectly acceptable. 99 times out of 100 that you see a bow tie with a morning coat it will be on eBay, with a black bow tie and cummerbund under the heading “Vintage Tuxedo Rocky Horror Goth L@@K“.

Black Tie with Morning Coat

"Faded Edwardian grandeur. Perfect for '40s night or steampunk."

But wait! It can be so much better than this. So, so, so much better. It will somewhat fail to make my point at all by showing you a cascade of bow ties looking brilliant in images from 60 years ago or more, but I’m going to anyway:

Churchill in a bow tie

Winston Churchill in his trademark bow tie with grey morning suit. Admittedly, this image is not the epitome of grace and elegance

Amazing man in bow tie

"Why yes, I can read it without glasses! Who knew wearing a bow tie cured glaucoma?"

Edward VIII in Bow Tie

"Maybe, Herr von Ribbentrop, I will reconsider your abhorrent idealogy when this perennial neckwear goes out of fashion."

So the bow tie may very well be out of date, but it definitely isn’t as out of date as an ascot tied in a ruche knot, and that is definitely something to think about when Moss Bros. pull out their polyester swatch book. That was me standing up for bow ties. I expect the future to be very different now*.



* Devotees of Matt Smith’s bow tie may well feel the currents of time shifting at this point



Filed under Accessories, Apparel Arts Illustrations, Evening Dress, Morning Dress, Neckwear, Royal Paragons

2 responses to “Bow Ties

  1. Dr J.C. Horton

    For several days a year, I wear a white bow tie (plus bands) with morning dress. Occasionally, when wanting to appear absolutely sub fusc, I wear black trousers (with black morning coat and black waistcoat) rather than striped. Of course, when beneath gown and hood, the coat isn’t noticed by too many people … but the few that do notice are those that I would want to notice.

  2. Charles Henry Wolfenbloode

    I would also mention the fact that when wearing neck decorations, the correct tie to wear is a bow tie so the badge sits just 1″ under the bow (like it is for evening dress). It’s even prescribed by statute ( Nowadays, they wear it over a standard tie which pushes the badge to the side so now they make the neckribbon longer and now it is being worn like a medal won at sports day…

    And yes, Heston off BBC Doctors should be tried in the St. James’s Court of Sartorial Crimes…

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