Howard McEwen's Red and Blue Bow Tie

How I wear my bow ties…but you do your own thing

Howard McEwen's Red and Blue Bow Tie

Howard McEwen’s Red and Blue Bow Tie

Aficionado’s Note: I don’t completely follow Howard’s rules, but that’s ok. Individualists do their own thing. Besides, you can tell that he really thinks his own rules through.

The following is how I prefer to wear my bow ties. But as the header of this blog quotes, “A list of bow tie devotees reads like a Who’s Who of rugged individualist” (by Warren St. John formerly of the New York Times) so wear yours in that in mind – the way you want. But maybe I like to wear my bow ties will spark a bit of thought beyond the question of ‘should you wear a bow tie’ to how you – the rugged individualist – will wear your bow tie.

I stay away from ‘theme’ ties. A theme tie comes dangerously close to one of my guiding bow tie principals – bow tie shouldn’t shout “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” I don’t wear a heart tie on St. Valentine’s Day, or four leaf clovers on St. Patrick’s Day, a horse tie on Derby day (I am a Kentuckian), or a ghost tie on Halloween. To me, they are the ugly Christmas sweater of the neckwear world. Now, that doesn’t mean I refuse to celebrate the holidays through dress. I just wear a stylish green tie on St. Paddy’s Day. And a pink one for St. V day and maybe an orange tie on Halloween. On Independence Day, I may were a bow tie with red, white and blue stripes, but I won’t wear a version of Old Glory twisted and configured into bow tie form.

The traditional advice for the size of the bow tie is no smaller or wider than your eye sockets. I go a bit larger. My eye sockets are bit too close together. I also have what my grandma called ‘a big jug head’ which makes the traditional sized bow tie look small in comparison… That head is, fortunately, attached to a broad chest and shoulders. A larger bow tie simply works better on my specific eye/head/shoulder structure. A bow tie that’s only as big as my eye sockets looks like a child’s bow tie, a bit cutesy, for my tastes.

Next, I often like to have the back bow of the tie slightly larger than the front bow. This little peeking out presents the tie in a non-traditional, snazzy way. The effect is a 3-D, layered look that’s a bit quixotic but doesn’t draw too much attention to itself.

My last bit of fussiness has to do with the vertical drop of cloth in the center of the tie that binds the bow together. Maybe it’s my own fastidiousness – I do have an accounting degree after all – but I like that little bit of fabric to be smooth with no crease. And even as much as possible on the horizontals so that the center of the knot looks like a square.

This is just how I like to wear mine. It makes me feel good. It projects my personality. But you’re the ‘rugged individualist’ who decided to wear bow ties. Wear them how you bloody well like.

And let me know how you wear them. Maybe I’ll steal the idea.

Howard has many interests. To learn more visit his blog and check out his books on Amazon.