The Bow Tie is returning ... slowly but determined ... is coming back ...
To celebrate this ... I offer you some images of part of my collection and of myself ... wearing two of them ... Jeeves.
The bow tie is a type of men's necktie. It consists of a ribbon of fabric tied around the collar in a symmetrical manner such that the two opposite ends form loops. Ready-tied bow ties are available, in which the distinctive bow is sewn into shape and the band around the neck incorporates a clip. Some "clip-ons" dispense with the band altogether, instead clipping to the collar. The traditional bow tie, consisting of a strip of cloth which the wearer has to tie by hand, may be known as a "self-tie," "tie-it-yourself," or "freestyle" bow tie to distinguish it from these.
Bow ties may be made of any fabric material, but most are made from silk, polyester, cotton, or a mixture of fabrics. Some fabrics (e.g., wool) are much less common for bow ties than for ordinary four-in-hand neckties.
The bow tie originated among Croatian mercenaries during the Prussian wars of the 17th century: the Croat mercenaries used a scarf around the neck to hold together the opening of their shirts. This was soon adopted (under the name cravat, derived from the French for "Croat") by the upper classes in France, then a leader in fashion, and flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It is uncertain whether the cravat then evolved into the bow tie and necktie, or whether the cravat gave rise to the bow tie, which in turn led to the necktie. The most traditional bow ties are usually of a fixed length and are made for a specific size neck. Sizes can vary between approximately 14 and 20 inches just like a comparable shirt collar. Fixed-length bow ties are preferred when worn with the most formal wing-collar shirts, so as not to expose the buckle or clasp of an adjustable bow tie. Adjustable bow ties are the standard when the tie is to be worn with less formal lay-down collar shirts which obscure the neckband of the tie. "One-size-fits-all" adjustable bow ties are a later invention that help to moderate production costs.
"To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think." ”
—Warren St John, The New York Times
Bow ties tend to be associated with particular professions, such as architects, finance receipt collectors, attorneys, university professors, teachers, waiters and politicians. Pediatricians frequently wear bow ties since infants cannot grab them the way they could grab a four-in-hand necktie, and they do not get into places where they would be soiled or could, whether accidentally or deliberately, strangle the wearer. Clowns sometimes use an oversize bow tie for its comic effect. Classical musicians traditionally perform in white tie or black tie, both of which are bow ties. It is well understood in the legal profession, among older attorneys, or those who still read into a man's appearance, that a man who wears bow-ties regularly is not to be trusted; he thinks too far outside the box or unconventionally to a fault. Bow ties are also associated with weddings, mainly because of their almost universal inclusion in traditional formal attire.
Bow ties, or slight variations thereof, have also made their way into women's wear, especially business attire. The 1980s saw professional women, especially in law, banking, and the corporate world, donning very conservative tailored suits, mostly skirted suits. These were often worn with buttoned-up blouses, some with pleats up the front like tuxedo shirts, and accessorized with bow ties that were slightly fuller than the standard bow ties worn by their male counterparts.
Russell Smith, style columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, observes that opinions of bow tie wearers are mixed. While he observed that bowties were experiencing a potential comeback among men, he also stated that "the class conscious man recoils at the idea" of pre-tied bow ties. "Left-wingers," he continues, "recoil at what they perceive to be a symbol of political conservatism." He argues that, however, the anachronism is the point, and that bow tie wearers are making a public statement that they disdain changing fashion. Such people may not be economic conservatives, he argues, but they are social conservatives. In Smith's view, the bow tie is "the embodiment of propriety," an indicator of fastidiousness and intelligence, and "an instant sign of nerdom in Hollywood movies," but "not the mark of a ladies' man" and "not exactly sexy." To this image he attributes the association of the bow tie with newspaper editors (because of their fastidiousness with words), high-school principals, and bachelor English teachers. Most men, he observes, only wear bow ties with formal dress.
A Return to Tying the Knot
JULY 22, 2011.Bow Ties Are Finding Favor as Day-Wear Accoutrements With a Younger Generation.
By WILLIAM LYONS in The Wall Street Journal
In the archives of Turnbull & Asser, the U.K. shirt maker and tailor known for dressing everyone from the Prince of Wales to a slew of James Bond actors, is a burgundy-colored bow tie. Made of satin, it once belonged to Sammy Davis Jr.—a sartorial keepsake from the Rat Pack era, when wearing a bow tie was the last word in Hollywood style.
."I suppose we really ought to put it on display," says Charles O'Reilly, the buyer for Turnbull & Asser who is responsible for purchasing the retailer's stock of brightly colored silks. Not that the tailor is short of neckwear; leafing through a tie rack replete with dozens of styles, Mr. O'Reilly picks out a royal-blue polka-dot number familiar to many as the preferred choice of Sir Winston Churchill. Due to a number of handwritten requests from customers over the past two years, the London-based tailor decided to reintroduce its Churchill Spot bow-tie range this year. "It's proved hugely popular," he says, adding that sales of bow ties at the company have increased as much as 25% in the past two years. Indeed, after years spent languishing in the evening-wear department, bow ties are finding favor with a new audience—a younger generation that takes its inspiration not from Oscar Wilde or Dean Martin, but from contemporary actors like Matt Smith of "Doctor Who" and musicians such as rapper Jay-Z.
.Once worn with aplomb by personalities from Groucho Marx to Humphrey Bogart and the man who created James Bond, Ian Fleming, bow ties are no longer only paired with the smart suits or velvet smoking jackets favored by Davis and Churchill, tailors say, but with more casual outfits like polo shirts, sweaters and, in some cases, vintage tweed jackets. Evidence of their rising profile in the contemporary world of fashion was seen in the spring 2012 menswear collections. Labels such as Roberto Cavalli, Gucci and Viktor & Rolf all featured them in their shows in Paris and Milan last month, while Alexander McQueen regularly includes bow ties, including a tartan design, in its collection.
"A few years ago, wearing a bow tie would have been perceived as something that was really nerdy and undesirable," says Barry Tulip, design director of Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes, which has dressed Sir Noël Coward and singer Bryan Ferry. "But that is exactly why people are wearing them today, as it goes against the norm and in that sense it is very desirable. We have seen a real resurgence of bow-tie wearing driven by a younger, more popular culture."
That view is echoed by Nicholas Fugler, director of retail at Jermyn Street tailor New & Lingwood, suppliers to Eton College, the private boys' school attended by Britain's elite, including Prime Minister David Cameron. "What we find in tailoring is a desire to bring back a look that hasn't been around for a while," he says. "Historically, the grandfather would wear something, the father wouldn't, but then the grandson wants to wear what the grandfather was wearing—it's an affection for something that has gone past, that was uncool for dad to wear but is OK for the next generation.
"I would say in the last three years we have experienced a 20% increase in bow-tie sales each year," he adds. "The renaissance is accompanied by a new technology-inspired preppy look, accompanied with narrow-fitted trousers, sleeveless tank tops, checked shirts, tweed jackets and, it seems, polka-dot bow ties."
Part of the bow tie's appeal has always been its sartorial efficiency. For around £35, one can purchase a handcrafted, woven silk tie that doesn't dangle in hospital patients' faces, get caught in doorways or peppered with the remnants of lunch. Designers say they can also be immensely flattering, as a bow tie sits symmetrically on the neck, throwing attention on to a person's face.
Nicholas Atgemis, proprietor of Sydney-based bow-tie boutique Le Noeud Papillon, says the roots of the bow tie stretch back to Croatian mercenaries who used cloth to tie their shirt collars shut during the Prussian wars. In France, the aristocracy followed, wearing silk neckwear they termed cravat, from the French word for Croat. The bow tie in its present form dates back to the 19th century. In his book "Gentlemen: A Timeless Fashion," Bernhard Roetzel says bow ties descended from the neckcloth—a square cloth folded into a triangle and then tied into a bow, which men wore until the late 19th century. The present shape hasn't changed much since 1870.
"At the beginning of the 20th century, there were a lot of bow ties being worn by storekeepers and just everyday people," says Mr. Atgemis. "Slowly that dropped off. Then, for a long time it was reserved for people in the medical profession, intelligentsia and musicians. As time progressed further, little hubs of bow-tie-wearing places emerged, such as the southern states of America, where they continued to be worn for a long, long time.
"From the 1960s onward, people stopped tying them and began to buy pre-tied ones. But now I find people want to tie their own bow ties again, as there is something very nonchalant and also idiosyncratic about tying your own, as everyone gets a slightly different knot at the end of it."
At its simplest, tying a bow tie is creating a knot—as straightforward as tying your shoelaces, except that the ribbon is round your neck and you cannot see it. But once mastered, designers say that tying a bow tie can be as quick and easy as a necktie.
Creating the perfect look requires looping the silk around your neck, leaving the longer end on your right-hand side. With a few swift moves, the longer end should be crossed over the shorter side, flipped underneath and then threaded through to the center. The shorter end should be folded horizontally, while the longer end is placed over the top before pulling it through the loop at the back, thus creating the distinctive knot. Various pulling and shuffling creates the knot to the desired style.
To a certain degree, the size of the knot depends on the style of the bow tie. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack favored a slim batwing look, compared with a wide batwing—what some designers refer to as the Charvet cut, after the exclusive French outfitters. The style favored by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was a diamond point, while actor Cary Grant preferred a straight edge.
For those who cannot tie their own bow ties, there are plenty of clip-on or ready-tied versions on the market, including those made from satin and velvet. Although it is deemed the ultimate in panache to wear a tie that one has tied oneself, Mr. Fugler at New & Lingwood says there are no steadfast rules. "I know of people that buy two bow ties—a ready-tied version and a loose one which they keep in their pocket. At that point in the evening where everyone is a bit more relaxed, they nip out and put the loose one through the collar at the back so it is hanging loosely from either side of their open neck, which is the old Bond look, creating that after-hours, evening chic. But I don't think people should worry too much. If you are tying it yourself, make sure it is a little disheveled to personalize the look."
For some, bow ties may never move from evening wear to day wear, but tailors say the recent boom has had a trickle-down effect, fueling sales of traditional menswear styles, such as the polka-dot pattern.
"I don't think you have to be brave at all to wear a bold, spotty-colored bow-tie," says Mr. Atgemis. "That was, after all, Winston Churchill's trademark. The image of Churchill is synonymous with a navy-blue polka-dot bow tie and he is someone who most of us consider a man who was respectful of tradition but in terms of fashion was also out there all the time."
If You’re Young and Not Fainthearted
By DAVID COLMAN in The New York Times
Published: March 13, 2008
MONSTROUS cinema villains are not, as a rule, inspired dressers. They usually go for some moldering garment that suggests they shopped in a victim’s dirty laundry pile rather than the racks of Jeffrey New York.
But they do have a way with accessories: Freddy Krueger and his fedora; Jason and that jaunty hockey mask. Chic, right? And “Funny Games,” opening on Friday, puts sharp style right up front, as two young men, nattily dressed as if for a Hamptons summer lunch, drop by to terrorize a vacationing family. As the white-gloved Paul puts it, “It’s easier when things are polite.”
However enigmatic the statement is in context, it gets right at a key point in men’s style — that is, dandyish one-upmanship. And if you think such movies strain credulity when the villains come back to life despite repeated puncture wounds, take a look, if you will, at the bow tie.
Only a few years ago it was all but left for dead; men were ditching it even as part of a tuxedo. But as seen at the Academy Awards ceremony last month, the name of the game for many men, Daniel Day-Lewis among them, is Bow Tie: Resurrection.
Of course, as with spontaneously regenerating killers, the numbers are small. But the increase is marked, especially among men in their 20s. “We didn’t really have a bow tie business till this season,” said Tommy Fazio, the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. “And it’s really taken off.”
On eBay, a good resource for anyone experimenting with a look, sales of bow ties jumped 34 percent from December 2007 to February 2008. And for men who are no longer dabbling, there are now bow ties from fashionable lines like Lanvin, Thom Browne and Michael Bastian.
Randy Hanauer, the owner of bowties.com, based in Fort Mill, S.C., said his business has spiked in the last two years. “All the growth is coming from young people,” he said. “I’d say guys from senior year in high school to about 25. It goes along with all the seersucker and madras they’ve gotten into. This generation likes to dress up and look nice, unlike the generation prior to them.” (Hello, 40-somethings?)
“We love the bow tie,” said Tanner Graham, 26, an account manager at Laird & Partners, an advertising firm in New York (and a champion of the royal “we”). “I enjoyed wearing ties when it wasn’t necessary, and this is like taking it to the next level.”
Many men do not know how to tie a bow tie, but even if they do, Mr. Graham said: “A lot of guys are afraid to pull it off. They don’t think they can be taken seriously in a bow tie.”
So, he said, “One-upmanship is definitely a component.”
For those who want to learn, the easiest and best instruction comes from Lucky Levinson, an owner of Brittons, a clothier in Columbia, S.C. His charming YouTube video, “How to Tie a Bow Tie,” should make him the Tim Gunn of Southern-gent style.
Indeed, if you take your fashion cues from obscure Belgian designers, you may be chagrined to learn that the bow tie’s comeback originated on Southern college campuses. But then, a city man will want to wear his bow tie with clothes that have a sharper edge than seersucker. It looks sharp with jeans, a white shirt and a solid sport coat, say; or wear a formal black bow tie as an accent, instead of a more colorful and wholesome one. The idea is to avoid a costume-ish look — Southern gentry, Ivy League professor, classical architect, 1960s geek — while hinting at some romantically out-of-it, bespectacled antihero.
“What I like about the bow tie is that it’s both old-fashioned and somehow clearly current,” said Alexander Olch, a fashionable young tie designer whose new line of bow ties is sold at that bastion of T-shirt chic, Opening Ceremony.
Like most new bow tie makers, Mr. Olch makes only the kind you tie yourself. The pre-tied bow has come a long way (the ones at Etro are great), but for the bow tie’s new fans, tying it on is more central to its charm than having it look perfect.
“A bow tie is more formal, right down to the knot,” Mr. Olch pointed out. “You can’t loosen a bow tie like you can a necktie.”
This may appeal to formalists. Others, however, may see it as one more reason to drive a gold tie tack through its knotted heart.
Sunday Images / "THE FIELD" -
3 weeks ago