Bow Ties: Dapper, Fusty, or Both?
December 27, 2009 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Research has shown that people think men who wear bow ties are fidgety, dull, and "a little weird", but that never stopped the likes of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

The bow tie has its origins in the scarves worn by 17th Century Croatian mercenaries, but these days most people associate them with men's formal wear.

While hard to find in brick and mortar stores, bow ties are readily available online. You might also try your hand at making one yourself.

And remember, real men tie their own.
posted by usonian (78 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hurray for bow ties! Great post.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:01 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


To quote David Sedaris quoting someone else, bowties are for "Republicans with piercings" and "men who can no longer get erections", in that order.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Cravat is where it is at.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


To quote David Sedaris quoting someone else, bowties are for "Republicans with piercings" and "men who can no longer get erections", in that order.

I'm sure he's got first hand knowledge of it.
posted by Skygazer at 10:13 AM on December 27, 2009


And in those rare occasions when Dapper + Fusty = Fapper, we have Tucker Carlson as representative example.
posted by darkstar at 10:14 AM on December 27, 2009


Fidgety and a little weird, maybe, but not dull.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:14 AM on December 27, 2009


I've heard a lot of people say they can't stand Tucker Carlson's bow tie. I think it's his sole redeeming characteristic.
posted by brundlefly at 10:15 AM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heavens to Murgatroyd!

exit, stage right.
posted by longsleeves at 10:27 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Y'know, part of what made the Neutra Face video so fun was the bow ties.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:27 AM on December 27, 2009


There’s little overlap between those who should wear bow ties and those who do.
posted by stilist at 10:39 AM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Heh, gonna forward this post to my dad, who used to own a haberdashery. He used to lump bow tie wearers together together with the dismissive, "Well, he's a bow tie man, what do you expect?" This post will either make him smile or shake his head, or maybe both. Yeah, Dad's all for self-expression, as long as it conforms to his own sense of mens fashion.
posted by mosk at 10:47 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've heard a lot of people say they can't stand Tucker Carlson's bow tie. I think it's his sole redeeming characteristic.

He's done with that stuff.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 10:51 AM on December 27, 2009


Tucker Carlson is a vile, vile human being.
posted by brundlefly at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not the wearing a bow tie, in and of itself. I have a colleague who has worn a bow tie every Friday for the last 20 years. He thinks of himself as that amazing rebel bow tie guy. That's the problem.
posted by acrasis at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


What, no Louis Farrakhan?
posted by Evilspork at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


bowties are for "Republicans with piercings" and "men who can no longer get erections", in that order.

What about wacky scientists?
posted by cmoj at 11:46 AM on December 27, 2009


acrasis Yeah, basically they're an affectation. But then, we're talking about clothing, what in that area, isn't an affectation when you get right down to it?
posted by sotonohito at 12:27 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


When forced with a new dress code at work we rebelled with Bow Tie Thursdays. Unfortunately it caught on too well. Word had it that the CEO was going to get one, so we stopped.
posted by Gungho at 12:40 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


See, the thing with regular neckties is they're giant cloth arrows that point toward your crotch. "Hey, check out my awesome crotch," they say. Bowties don't point toward your crotch. This is why in a roomful of powerful business folks you will rarely see someone wearing a bowtie. "That guy with the bowtie? I'm not doing a deal with him. Poor crotchless bastard. That guy with the necktie, on the other hand... now there's a crotch I can trust."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:42 PM on December 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Republican pundits wear bowties because they think it makes them look smart. What they fail to take into account is that it stops working sometime in high school.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:46 PM on December 27, 2009


All ties are archaic and silly looking and constrict precious blood flow to the brain.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:51 PM on December 27, 2009


All ties ... constrict precious blood flow to the brain.

Only if they're too tight ... and if you're wearing your tie too tight, it's not the tie's fault.
posted by jayder at 1:11 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


My university president essentially looks like the bowtie was designed for people like him.

I mean, damn, look at this picture. Bowtie, suspenders, beeper, nerdy glasses, pocket pens. Shows dedication if nothing else.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:13 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK. I own one bowtie. It's battery-powered and it spins. I wear it every New Year's. And now I feel self-conscious about it. Thanks.
posted by SPrintF at 1:40 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Snagglepuss wears, not a bow tie, but a string tie.

As for Dhani Jones, a bow tie with a tuxedo is not a "bow tie statement", it's simply a proper tuxedo statement. A bow tie without a tuxedo is as distinct as a cummerbund would be without a tuxedo, which, by the way, would seem to be a very promising avenue for aquiring blanket personality judgments.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:57 PM on December 27, 2009


Respect the bow tie, mofos.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:05 PM on December 27, 2009


I like the spinning bowties, but they hurt my chin.
posted by Elmore at 2:11 PM on December 27, 2009


Respect the bow tie, mofos.

whatever you want to think of the man and his politics, there is an autographed pic of him hanging in front of me as i type, that reads

"to tim steil, looking forward to that ride in the truck in Peru sometime....Paul Simon 12-18-87" ( I had called him up up and told him we should get a six-pack, jump in my pickup, and just drive around some gravel roads for a while and see what's what. It might give him some perspective.

As he was approaching death, he said he just wanted to be buried in a simple pine box. A good friend of mine's father, a woodworker/carpenter was ready to build it for him, but time ran out.
posted by timsteil at 2:16 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]



As for Dhani Jones, a bow tie with a tuxedo is not a "bow tie statement", it's simply a proper tuxedo statement. A bow tie without a tuxedo is as distinct as a cummerbund would be without a tuxedo, which, by the way, would seem to be a very promising avenue for aquiring blanket personality judgments.


I took a walk outside today, oh Boy, sad and lonely Chelsea with the shuttered dark 8th Ave shop and rows and rows of posters for a new "formal" men's briefs called "Tux" - felt like a citizen of Pompeii.
posted by The Whelk at 2:17 PM on December 27, 2009


Don't forget former Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson in your consideration of bow ties. Though his was a different era. I doubt wearing a bow tie nowadays gets you a Nobel Peace Prize, or even a namesake airport.
posted by orange swan at 2:17 PM on December 27, 2009




See also bowtie aficionado Andre 3000.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:35 PM on December 27, 2009




Pee-wee Herman ruined them for me.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2009


So we have the Croats to blame for the necktie. Noted. They did give us Mirko Cro Cop, though, so I can forgive them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2009


Space Cabby wears a bow tie. That's good enough for me.
posted by Legomancer at 3:52 PM on December 27, 2009


My college president was fond of wearing bow ties. That particular affectation was partially, but not entirely, responsible for his acquisition of the nickname "That Orville-Redenbacher-Looking Bastard."
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:22 PM on December 27, 2009


My university president essentially looks like the bowtie was designed for people like him.

As does this guy (chef/America's Test Kitchen dude).

Dhani Jones is super entertaining and good-looking which is why he can pull it off.
posted by ishotjr at 4:45 PM on December 27, 2009


The bigger the bow tie, the bigger the laugh!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:45 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Came back to say that if more doctors wore bow ties there'd probably be fewer hospital transferred infections.
posted by Gungho at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Count me as a dissenting opinion. I went on a date to the opera recently, and busted out a modernish single-button suit and a bowtie, and found it worked quite well, thank you. I also rocked a bowtie in promo photos for my band last year, and it looked good. I think the problem is that people usually wear bowties with a) tuxedoes and b) dorky college professor outfits, so folks have trouble imagining bowties outside of those contexts.
posted by thedaniel at 4:58 PM on December 27, 2009


I also rocked a bowtie in promo photos for my band last year, and it looked good.

What, we're supposed to just take your word for that? Links to pics, please.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 PM on December 27, 2009


Went to dinner with my family today. Dad was wearing a vest, bow tie (he wears one daily), black cape and black silk top hat. He really does dress like this. I'd go with "a little weird" but neither fidgety nor dull. Actually it is all rather dapper if you pull it together.
posted by meinvt at 5:10 PM on December 27, 2009


Fine!

opera date

band shot (with mefi's own chimaera)

mock away, haters ~ i'll be here enjoying my luxuriant hand-tied bowtie!
posted by thedaniel at 5:11 PM on December 27, 2009


Opus T. Penguin, vice-presidential candidate.
Enough said.

Bowties for the win.
posted by daq at 5:46 PM on December 27, 2009


Notice that both of thedaniel's ensembles are black and white. I'd call them variations on the tuxedo. He's going to have to go farther outside the bow tie's comfort space than that to impress us.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:49 PM on December 27, 2009


Thanks for nothing, Croatian mercenaries.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:04 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


IF (and ONLY IF) you are male pediatrician, you may wear a bowtie.

(A pediatrician wearing a standard necktie will have it grabbed by an adorable slimy little hand....)

The rest of you, knock it off. If you are NOT a pediatrician, wearing a bowtie makes you look like a complete prat.

E.g.: George F. Will. QED.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:13 PM on December 27, 2009


Bowties and neckties are bullshit. As is the contemporary men's suit. Yes, yes, it's a wonderfully democratic invention that allows anyone who can scrape together a bit of cash to function in society, compared to when fashion was a much more swiftly moving (and expensive) target.

But this is stylish and beautiful, and is worlds beyond the tiny splash of color and ornament that modern drones are allowed:
The Laughing Cavalier (wiki)

The modern necktie (or bowtie) is like the tiny potted plant, stuffed animal, or photograph with which your manager majestically allows you to 'personalize' your cubicle.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:22 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:37 PM on December 27, 2009


Bowties and neckties are bullshit. As is the contemporary men's suit.

Yeah, but you can't deny that something happens to a man when he dons a suit.




His trousers and jacket match.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2009


One of these things is not like the others.

But Churchill's mother was American, so we try not to hold his nationality against him much.
posted by LiliaNic at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

One of these things is not like the others.


Well, yes, Churchill was British...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 PM on December 27, 2009


Drat! LiliaNic beat me to it, and that comment was better than mine, to...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 PM on December 27, 2009


Fine!

opera date

band shot


If Mrs. lord_wolf sees those pictures, our 1 month old son isn't going to be the only one in the family who needs drool wiped up this evening.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:35 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


it begins
posted by thedaniel at 7:37 PM on December 27, 2009


Beware of bow tie dandy.
posted by applemeat at 8:19 PM on December 27, 2009


This story alone tells me all I need to know about Dhani Jones. Getting arrested for dancing in the street is either an admirable act of heroic civil disobedience or complete ridiculousness. Same goes for wearing a bowtie.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:49 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


But this is stylish and beautiful, and is worlds beyond the tiny splash of color and ornament that modern drones are allowed:
The Laughing Cavalier


Boy Howdy
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 PM on December 27, 2009


See, the thing with regular neckties is they're giant cloth arrows that point toward your crotch. "Hey, check out my awesome crotch," they say.

Thank You for putting into words why I never wear ties...why call attention to the obvious?

Bowties are for people who consider wearing their pants just below the armpit region a style coup. White socks with dark shoes/pants complete the image.
posted by motown missile at 9:13 PM on December 27, 2009


Bow ties can look cool if you do it just right. I saw a guy with a tweed coat and bow tie last week and it wasn't Redenbacher-esque at all. A bit hipster, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:33 PM on December 27, 2009


Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

One of these things is not like the others.


One plays football with his feet.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 PM on December 27, 2009


Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

One of these things is not like the others.


when i was 4 years old they
tried to test my i.q.
they showed me this picture
of 3 oranges and a pear
they asked me which one
is different and does not
belong
they taught me different
is wrong

-Ani Difranco, My IQ
posted by flarbuse at 12:21 AM on December 28, 2009


Lovely saccharine sentiment, but honestly. We sometimes run the risk of nice-ing ourselves into a coma.

I've never heard of this football player in any context. Maybe he is a public figure of comparable stature to Churchill and Roosevelt, maybe he's found the cure for cancer and has a workable plan for mideast peace, maybe he's much much more than just an overpaid meathead pushing a pigskin across chalk lines for the entertainment of the television audience. I don't know.

If that is the case, I retract my implication.

But regardless of context, it ought to be quite clear to anyone but Ani Difranco, perhaps, that different is neither wrong nor right: it is merely different.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:36 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


We sometimes run the risk of nice-ing ourselves into a coma.

Most quotable quote I've seen on Mefi in quite some time, stav!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:51 AM on December 28, 2009


Blazecock Pileon wrote One plays football with his feet.

Except that's not true. In "football" mostly people don't use their feet at all. Worse, the thing they use isn't really ball shaped.

The sport we Americans call "soccer", deserves the name "football" much more, simply because it actually involves people using their feet to move a ball.

What we Americans call "football" should be called "hand egg".
posted by sotonohito at 4:15 AM on December 28, 2009


In the joke, Churchill played football with his feet, Dhani Jones plays it with his hands, and FDR was a cripple confined to a wheelchair and/or leg braces and thus could not play football with his feet.
posted by cardboard at 6:36 AM on December 28, 2009


The Christmas card my girlfriend drew for us this year was a reindeer with candles stuck on his antlers, wearing a bow tie. It's festive!
posted by sciurus at 6:38 AM on December 28, 2009


I drew usonian's name for Secret Quonsar. I sewed him a couple bow ties from silk I printed by hand and from a vintage sample scrap of silk I'd had. Sewing them is fun, if somewhat masochistic at times as sewing bias cut silk can be like attempting to sew water. Finding the slide hardware was difficult and would have been impossible had it not been for an extraordinarily friendly men's shop owner who was pleased to hear I was sewing some bow ties for Christmas.
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:05 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


There is a subset (5%?) of attorneys that always wear bow ties. I think the youngest one I've seen is about 55. I guess this trend will help replace their ranks. I understand there's always been this group of oddballs.
posted by norm at 7:07 AM on December 28, 2009


Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

One of these things is not like the others.

Lovely saccharine sentiment, but honestly. We sometimes run the risk of nice-ing ourselves into a coma.
I was merely going for some contrast; Churchill and Roosevelt? Not too surprising that either of them wore bow ties. An NFL football player? A bit more surprising. I'd never heard of the guy either, but I thought a pro athlete (the antithesis of the stereotypical bow tie wearing poindexter) being a bow tie advocate was interesting.

hecho de la basura, thank you again! Best Secret Quonsar ever!

I don't care what all you haters think, bow ties look sharp when they're not cartoonishly huge or worn with the "Look at me! I'm the bow tie guy!" attitude. Plus they don't flap around in the wind or fall into your soup.
posted by usonian at 8:09 AM on December 28, 2009


Bought a bow tie on a whim for a wedding I was attending and I haven't looked back. They are no different than any other sartorial item: even jeans are an affectation if you employ them as such. I happen to look really rad in a bow tie. As I do in my black diamond crown pork pie hat. Nothing to it, wear with it confidence but not self-consciousness. Don't call attention to it. You could pull off knickers if you cared to. Anything you wear with the intent of making a deliberate 'statement' about yourself is bound to make you look like an asshat to somebody. If you wear it simply because you think you look good in it, you're solid.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:27 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I should note that I usually look like a bum and smell like a bar. A style I've termed hobosexual, as opposed to metrosexual.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:30 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wear bow ties. I may or may not either shatter or snuggly fit into any preconceived notions you have regarding people who wear bow ties.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:41 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


A former colleague of mine of short stature, Jim Rogers, says he only wears them because regular ties hang down below his pockets.
posted by Zambrano at 9:58 AM on December 28, 2009


What, no reference to the Eleventh Doctor? The BBC has already been contacted by tweed companies to make a Doctor Who line, so I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with an official, franchised bow tie line as well.

If nothing else, there'll be the cosplayers.
posted by bettafish at 6:53 AM on December 29, 2009


I wore a beautiful bow tie - a blue and purple paisley confection - to our formal academic events in grad school. Got many (seemingly heartfelt) compliments, one most notably from a Nobel Laureate who was an aficionado of the bowtie.

I still have it, but haven't worn it in 20 years. I don't think I'll be able to pull off a bow tie, other than a tux, for another 20 years or so. By then, I plan to be a sexagenarian vision in tweed!
posted by darkstar at 9:15 AM on December 29, 2009


First and only time I wore a bow tie was for my first holy Communion. I was 8. It was white with red and blue polka dots.

Yeah, that's right. I picked it out myself.

Got a problem with that?
posted by Skygazer at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2009


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