A New Beginning: Bow Ties

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This week I took my first nervous steps into the world of the bow tie wearer.

I say nervous steps because few things mark you out as a lone wolf amongst the sartorial sheep quite like a bow tie. Indeed, in any one year I can count on one hand the number of times I see a man wearing said item.

Sadly, and despite the continuing trend for all things ‘Ivy’, those men you do see wearing bow ties often conform to the stereotype. On the whole they’re slightly bewildered, bookish eccentric types, not the chiselled young thrusters of the Ralph Lauren advertisements.

Lord Chesterfield (he of the coat fame) put it rather well when he said, “take great care always to be dressed like the reasonable people of your own age, in the place where you are; whose dress is never spoken of one way or another as either to negligent or too much studied”. No one likes to be ridiculed, or to feel too conspicuous. But even a seasoned clothes horse with an inclination towards the individual might find wearing a day time bow tie cause for anxiety.

But regardless, and with Beau Brummel’s dictum that, “if John Bull turns round to look after you, you are not well dressed”, ringing in my ears I ventured forth.

And you know what, I really rather liked the feeling. No less exhilarating a form of self expression than streaking, but a damn sight more elegant, I recommend it to anybody.

Yes, as expected I received the odd look and comment, but on the whole it worked. This was helped by the fact I went easy on myself. Firstly I chose a simple classic bow tie in the form of a navy blue and white polka dot from Hilditch & Key. Made from printed silk, with little or no interlining it has a relaxed and natural air when tied. Secondly, and this is a practice I’d recommend whenever you try something new or different, I paired my tie with clothes I felt instantly at ease in. In this case, that meant British Khaki chinos, brogues and a Levis’ Jean jacket – my habitual spring early/summer casual uniform. The result was that I felt comfortable and the bow fitted the look – in a preppy sort of way.

So, if you’ve considered the day bow but have found yourself demurring, my advice is man up and get to it. Liberate yourself.

Next stop, The Cordial Churchman.


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Andrew Williams blogs at BespokeMe and is based in London. His clothing label Bulldog & Wasp represents his philosophy that style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.