101 easy ways to dress better. No. 9: Learn to tie a bow tie

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Before I start, I was delighted and flattered to see that one of my favourite blogs gave me a mention yesterday. If you like commentary on sports, schools, society and so forth, all served up with a healthy dose of aristocratic English wit then A Viscount Speaks is for you.
(Not suitable for people prone to a sense of humour failure at the slightest hint of xenophobia or male chauvinism.)

Anyway, continuing with the Black Tie theme, this week's '101 ways' post is about one of those things that really seperates the men from the boys at black tie parties. If you want to improve your black tie ensemble, but don't want to spend too much money yet, then one thing you absolutely must do is buy a 'real' bow tie (almost any decent menswear shop will have one) and learn to tie it. It's not nearly as hard as most people seem to think and, once you've got it sorted, the advantages are worth the effort.

A self-tied bow tie always looks slightly imperfect or lopsided. This is an important part of its charm and appeal, as it looks far more elegant than the unaturally perfect shape of a pre-tied tie. People do notice a real bow tie, and it makes you look like a man who wears a dinner jacket as a matter of course, rather than a man who is 'dressed up' for an occasion. You also have the advantage of being able to undo your tie much later on in the evening and leave it hung round your neck which, while it may be unacceptably scruffy, does still look rather natty.

If you're worried that learning to tie a bow tie is difficult - it's really not. The method is exactly like tying a shoe lace, and the internet (and especially you tube) is full of instructions.