Sunday, April 22, 2012

B Is For Badass Brits in Bow Ties

A short while back a reader left the following comment on Tie It Up, Pt. II:

"Hey there. So, you've done a couple of posts now about ties, but what about the bow tie? How do we make that work without looking like Orville Reddenbacher or our grandfather at prom? I'd really like to rock it (and I do), but my propensity for tweed, elbow patches, and other remnants of a bygone age isn't helping. So, bow tie challenge?"

First, thanks for reading. I'll admit that bow ties are pretty difficult for most men to pull off in the real world, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. The last time I wore a bow tie was when I had to work on Christmas Eve; I figured that if I had to work while everyone else and their mother was out shopping and enjoying the holiday season, you could bet your ass that I was going to be a little festive (and perhaps just a bit obnoxious) and rock a plaid wool bow tie.

That's the thing with bow ties: they're uncommon and can therefore be perceived as affected, silly, or obnoxious, as I mentioned above. The keys to pulling one off are twofold:

1. Know your proportions: Bow ties come in various sizes and styles. Larger-framed men can do better with larger-scale bow ties, whereas smaller-framed men (like a certain author of a certain blog you happen to be currently reading) do better with smaller-scale bow ties.

2. There are a few different types of bow ties:

The diamond:

The butterfly:

And my personal favorite, the batwing:

Try each one out and learn what you like and what looks good on you. A little experimentation goes a long way.

3. Tie that shit yourself: Would you ever wear a clip-on necktie? No. So why would you ever wear a clip-on bow tie? I dressed up as Pee-Wee Herman for Halloween back in 2009 and insisted on tying the bright red bow tie myself, and it took me about 90 minutes to learn by watching this video on YouTube. Note what the nice man says about finding your neck size.

The most important aspect of tying a bow tie yourself is the imperfect look it'll create; it's not supposed to be perfectly symmetrical, and if anyone tells you otherwise, refer them to the most badass Briton in their country's history:

That, sir, is how you wear a bow tie. Emulate this man and you are untouchable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tie It Up, Pt. II

After downloading the "How To Tie a Tie" app on my phone, I've recently become enamored with learning as many tie knots as possible. This is taking a hell of a long time; I've been a half-Windsor guy since about 2004, and old habits die hard. As a result of a lot of practice and maybe divine intervention, I had a breakthrough this morning and managed to tie a decent four-in-hand knot. Check it out:

If you look at the upper left side of the knot (your left, not mine), you'll see that it sits a bit higher than the right. This asymmetry is the hallmark of the classic four-in-hand; it's supposed to elicit a casual feel, a devil-may-care attitude that says, "Yeah, I put a tie on today and didn't even have to pay all that much attention to how I did it (although I paid way too much attention to how I did it)." It's very unlike my favored half-Windsor, which should be perfectly triangular and thicker. It's also more of a pain in the ass to tie, so I might be doing this four-in-hand thing for a while.

Also, look at the dimple in that thing. I was patting myself on the back for that all day.

For a great instructional video on ho to tie one of these bad boys, click here. Just remember that you'll likely have to play around with the initial length differential depending on your height (and how much of that height is in your torso as opposed to your legs), so don't get discouraged when you miss it the fifty or so times.