Whether you’re a young cis man, a trans man, a butch lesbian, or any of our classy non-binary and gender non-conforming pals, you need to know how to tie a tie. This skill serves as an important rite of passage into adulthood for the masculine and male-coded. Nothing communicates someone’s level of sophistication quite like a well-tied tie.
While bow ties fell out of style around the 1960s, they’ve made a comeback in daily and formal wear in a huge way. Want to add some class to your attire but want more playfulness than a traditional Windsor knot? A well-made, well-tied bow tie is a way to do it.
But you need to make sure you tie it properly as a tie that’s too large, too loose, or askew will ruin your urbane, suave, sophisticated look. If you’ve never learned how to tie a bowtie, our guide is here for you.
How to Tie a Tie Step by Step: Putting a Bow on It
Before you start tying your bow tie, you need to make sure you have the right bow tie for you. It wouldn’t do for any Urban Peacock worth their salt to show up in something ill-fitted or unstylish. Make sure your fabric’s color coordinates with the rest of your outfit. More on that later.
As for sizing, most bow ties can be adjusted to fit your neck. The general rule of thumb is to allow up to 1/2″ above your shirt’s neck size. Once you have the bow tie adjusted to the right size, it’s time to begin the tying process.
Step 1: Assume the Position
The first thing you’ll want to do is pop your collar. This will ensure it stays up and out of the way while you work. After that, lay the bowtie face-up around your neck, adjusting so it lays flat.
Once it’s in place, pull the left side so that it’s longer than the right. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call the left piece Side A and the right piece Side B.
Step 2: Make the First Move
Here, you’ll want to take hold of Side A. Then, you’ll pull it to the right, across Side B.
Step 3: Head Down Under
Pull Side A under Side B. Then, carefully pull it up through the neck loop.
Step 4: Time to Fold
At your newly-created joint, fold Side B toward the right. Then, pull it back slightly towards the left. This will start constructing that classic bow tie silhouette.
Congratulations! You’re about halfway through the process. Let’s focus up and keep going.
Step 5: Head Straight Down
Take Side A and pull it straight down and over the center of Side B’s building bow shape. (If you don’t get it centered right, it’s going to make the whole tie look askew, so focus on hitting that sweet spot.)
Step 6: Get Into the Pinch
Fold Side A back toward your chest. Then, pinch the fold to hold it in place.
Step 7: Push Through
You’re close to being done! Push the now-pinched Side A through the loop that’s behind Side B. You should now have folded pieces of the bow tie on both sides.
Step 8: Pull It Up Tight
Take the folded parts on both sides of the bow and pull them in opposing directions. This will tighten your knot.
Make sure you don’t do this part too loosely—the last thing you want is for your sweet, stylish bow tie to come undone during your wedding!
Step 9: Bring Balance to Your Bow Tie
Keep a close eye on your mirror. Adjust the sides of the tie until you’re sure that they’re even. Once that’s balanced, you’re all set.
Step 10: Profit!
You’ve just completed How to Tie a Tie 101: Bow Tie Edition. How do you feel? Excited? Classy? Stylish?
You can now join the ranks of thousands of sophisticated, urbane men and women who rock a classic bow tie. Enjoy your new fashion power!
But, before you go, we have some bonus tips for you on how to coordinate your tie with your outfit. You know how to put on a tie, so why not learn how to match one, too?
Get Coordinated: How to Find the Best Tie for the Outfit
Let’s face it, nothing wrecks the vibe of an outfit like a tie that doesn’t mesh with the rest of it. Whether it’s the wrong color for the person, the wrong tone for the shirt, or clashing patterns on patterns, the effect remains the same. It makes the wearer look dated and out of touch.
Here are some good rules of thumb about coordinating your tie with your outfit.
Two Plains, One Fancy
This fashion adage is not a hard and fast rule, but it can help you look more put together. The gist of this rule is that if you have a solid suit and shirt, your tie should be patterned. If your shirt is patterned, your suit and tie ought to be solid.
This handily avoids the issues created by wearing patterns on patterns. However, if you must wear patterns on patterns…
Balance Your Patterns Like a Pro
If you wear patterns on patterns, you’ll want to ensure the colors pull together. Try to keep your colors consistent, if your patterns are not. However, try to complement rather than match your patterns and colors. If they’re too close, they’ll clash.
Speaking of which…
Keep the Contrast
Another common fashion adage is 3 light, 2 dark. Meaning, for a formal or casual outfit, 3 elements of it should be lighter, and three should be darker. You don’t need to aim for high contrast between the two, but there should be some variation in your tones and hues.
Putting It All Together
So, you’ve now learned how to tie a tie and make sure it works with your outfit. With these skills in hand, go forth, urban peacock, and bring the city your style. We at Ruth Nathan’s are proud supporters of all walks of fashion, including yours!