Q: I’m attending a friend’s wedding and I want to mix it up and wear a bow tie for once. Unfortunately, when it comes to bow ties I’m a total newb, and I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I even considered buying a cheap clip-on because I don’t know how to tie a real one. Since a clip-on would never do my custom Black Lapel tuxedo justice, can you please enlighten this long-time fan on the art of tying a bow tie? – Kevin K.
A: Kevin, you’re not alone buddy. There are many men who suit up and knot up every day for work but don’t know where to start when it comes to getting down with the neck tie’s more formal cousin – the bow tie. Don’t be intimidated. We’ll break it down for you so you can notch it up at the wedding.
It definitely takes some practice to get the bow tie down properly. Don’t get frustrated. Budget at least 30 minutes and have your sweat band and a bottle of Gatorade handy. To get you started, watch this excellent instructional video provided by The Hill-side. We’ll then provide a play-by-play breakdown with the salient points.
9 Steps to Bow Tie Nirvana
1. Keep the left side (your right) 2-3 inches longer than the right. The tip of the shorter side should be parallel with the narrow “center” of the bow on the lower side.
2. Swing the longer side over the shorter side.
3. Loop the longer side through the opening and pull snug. This is how snug your finished bow tie will be so keep it this snug during steps 4-9.
4. Take the side that is in the rear and form half a bow.
5. Bring the other side to the front over that half bow.
6. Pinch the half bow together and gently tug away from your body so that a little loop opens up behind the pinched center.
7. Take the dangling piece in the middle and bring it up to the left rear. Gently push it bow first through the little loop in the back forming your second bow.
8. Grab both bows (not tips) and give them a tug to pull the knot tight. Leave enough length for the tips so you do not pull them out as you tighten the knot (like typing your shoe laces).
9. Hold the knot in the middle tight and adjust the lengths of the bows and tips to the desired length and shape. If this resulted in a successful bow tie, then smile, you’re awesome. If like us, your first attempt was not suitable for public display, then go back to step 1 and give it another go.
You’ll get the hang of it, just keep at it!
Got a question for our stylist? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Ask a Black Lapel Stylist”.
Enter your email below to get the latest from
The Compass delivered straight to your inbox.