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Bow Ties For Men: The Complete History

Bow Ties For Men

We now have bow ties for men because we know that a man who dabbles in the world of ascots likes to stand out.  Although ascots are the bravest fashion statement for a man, the bow tie comes in at second.  Every man should understand the power of the bow tie and its history.

To hold together the gaps in their shirts, Croatian mercenaries used scarves around their neck--this functional practice was the bow tie's humble beginning.  Those cold days during the 17th century Prussian wars were a little warmer with early bow ties to keep their shirts tight and closed.

Are you familiar with the term cravat?  When you say the word, you hear how similar it sounds to Croat.  Get it?  For those of you not fluent in French, the word cravat is actually related to the French word "Croat."  The French were leaders in fashion during the 18th and 19th centuries and turned the bow tie into a tool for maximum style.

Anatomy of a Bow Tie

To this day, no one really knows whether the cravat came from the bow tie or the bow tie was the child of the cravat.  There seems to be some relation to the four-in-hand knot that is most commonly worn by men today as well.  

When it comes to bow ties for men, size does matter.  Most bow ties for men are sized to go along with a gentlemen's next size--the most common sizes are between 15 and 20 inches.

Make sure to wear a fixed length bow tie when wearing formal wear.  Fixed length ties don't adjust and won't show the buckle under the collar--this is not the case with an adjustable bow tie.

Today, the most common bow ties for men that you'll find will be adjustable, and this is perfectly acceptable for the above average man who chooses to enjoy a bow tie.

Kinds of Bow Ties

Let's start with the least popular and move towards the grand finale of bow ties for men. 

The clip-on bow tie is the easiest bow tie to install but by far the most undesirable when it comes to feeling the true spirit of a bow tie around the neck.  

I'm sure you've seen this tie: the pre-tied bow tie with a clip on the back--in 2 seconds you can clip it to your shirt and you're off to the used car lot!

There is also the pre-tied bow tie without the clip. Thank heavens the neck strap is adjustable and there are no clips involved.

Think of the pre-tied bow tie as the robots of bow ties.  The tie can feel and look mechanical--too good to be true and with little originality in the fold.  It's like handing a loved one a plastic flower--pretty but boring and stiff.

That being said, the pre-tied bow tie is a perfect starting for juniors who need something stylish and practical.

Now for the best.  The freestyle bow tie is the most classic and worthy of the lot.  You may also see the term "self-tie" used to describe these kinds of bow ties for men.  

The "freestyle" nature of installing and folding the bow tie on your own gives it a personality that only our hand can offer. It's refreshing to see a tie with a little unevenness and stylistic bluster.  You just don't get this with a pre-tied bow tie.

Freestyle bow ties for men prove that you've gone the extra mile and arrived at a place called debonair.  At the end of the night, when the champagne has crept into your thoughts, let the tie loose around your neck.  It doesn't get much cooler than that.


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