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[ARTICLE by: S. ALI]
And when we say it’s back, it’s back like it never left. Bow ties were once relegated to the erudite halls of stone laden buildings in institutions of higher learning and sported by those in academia with about as many degrees as there were corresponding letters in the alphabet. They were paired with thick wool and tweed blazers and were sure to be very muted in color. My how times have changed.
Bow ties in America were also once almost exclusively associated with the Nation of Islam. In any inner city across America, and always on an MLK Drive or Malcolm X Boulevard you could find a sharply dressed man in a bow tie. But as many “American Traditions”, bow ties have their origins in Eastern Europe in 17th Croatia, no less, where laborers actually wore early versions to simply keep their shirts closed at the top and did not need the length of a tradition neck tie, which could also be potentially hazardous depending on one’s chosen vocation. The trend was quickly adopted into France circa the 18th and 19th centuries under the name of the “cravat”, which is French for “Croat.” It is here where the roots mostly commonly seen by Americans and the rest of the world took place and gave way to more formal iterations and became a favorite of the aristocratic class.
Today anyone and everyone can and should partake of the bow tie. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and can add character, whimsicality, and perhaps distinction, to otherwise unremarkable getups. There are many handmade and custom bow ties being made all over the country as well. There is even a 12-year-old out of Tennessee who has started his own line! Tuxedos and bow ties were once the most prevalent form of neck wear of formal wear we had; then the slim black silk tie became all the rage. But again, now, as is the case with many trends, we are seeing the return of the black bow tie to formal wear to great result.
Try one from some of the great brands of Americana (Polo, Tommy, Nautica, or J. Crew) in a number of striped, patterned and just outright fun designs and your outfit can say whatever you want it to. No longer just for professors, bow ties can give you the personality of an alter-ego or just wear for more formal occasions as an alternative to traditional neck wear. The bow tie’s evil cousin the ascot will be discussed at some point in the future, but for now, get a bow tie and have some fun. And if you’re stumped on how to tie (since almost all casual wearers, myself included, forget how to tie in between wearings lol), check out this video!
Do it big, with style & with passion…