Howard McEwen Black and White Bow Tie

How My Daughter Got Me to Wear Bow Ties

Howard McEwen's Black and White Bow Tie

Howard McEwen Black and White Bow Tie

My youngest daughter decided I should wear a bow tie.

Why or how she decided this, she could not explain. And after two years of her lobbying, I found myself standing with her in a suburban department store where I relented and bought one.

I wasn’t against her suggestion for any good reason. I was under the delusion that the traditional business tie hanging from my neck to my belt buckle obscured my 40 inch waist. As I said, a delusion. Another reason I demurred in purchasing the non-standard neckwear was the fact that I thought it may make me look like a jerk.

But by the time I was standing in the suburban department store men’s wear department, I had lost 65 pounds and was flirting with my slimmer high school waist size. With the weight loss, having recently done a half-marathon (notice I did not say ran a half-marathon) and the general insouciance that comes with middle-age, I had earned the confidence of not really caring if I’d look like a jerk…if it made my little girl happy. So she picked out a nice $27 reversible bow tie with black and white stripes on one side and black with white polka dots on the other and insisted I buy it.

And when a 14 year old daughter who has helped you pick out clothes for two hours on a Saturday insists, you consent.

If I was going to buy a bow tie, I had to wear it and if I was going to wear it, I had to learn how to tie it. So I spent the greater part of the following Sunday afternoon watching YouTube videos and googling instructions and made seventy-three attempts to tie it before things seemed to come together on the seventy-fourth attempt.

With my first neatly tied bow tie, I stepped back and took a look. And I had to admit, while the look was unfamiliar, it looked good. The look was clean and crisp. Within minutes of wearing it around the house, I realized how ungainly my usual long neck tie was – that somewhat heavy piece of cloth that dangled needlessly from my neck. The bow tie gave me a more finished look. The appropriate word was not a word I had ever used to describe myself. It wasn’t even a word I was sure I wanted applied to myself. The word was ‘dapper.’ I looked dapper.

The second thing was something my wife noticed. “Are you wearing different shoes?” she asked. No, I wasn’t. I wasn’t wearing any shoes. Yet she said I looked taller somehow. I stand between six foot and six foot one depending on the time of day and which convenience store I’m exiting. She’s five foot five. The bow tie somehow heightened those seven inches between us. Not a bad benefit.

So I did my usual Sunday routine while wearing the bow tie and in short order I noticed something else. Actually, it was something I didn’t notice that I noticed. I didn’t notice I was still wearing the bow tie. Compared to how I tied my long ties, the bow tie was more comfortable to wear. Men yearn to rip off their necktie when they walk in the door from the office. The bow tie? No. It didn’t have that strangling feeling. While not as completely comfortable as an open collar, it’s nowhere near restrictive as a necktie and its flapping twenty-four inches of excess fabric.

So with this new found appreciation, I decided to head into the office wearing a bow tie…someday soon.

Howard is a renaissance man; his interests include bow ties, financial advising, beekeeping, bartending, and writing. Read more about his musings and adventures on his personal site at and his Amazon author page.