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The Cordial Gentleman: How To Wear A Bow Tie

A cordial gentleman is a satirical term for a man who displays certain characteristics of class and elegance, but chooses often to act rude and distasteful, often in large groups of people. Whether you’re pursuing a career as a lawyer, accountant, pastry chef, or yoga instructor, beginning will always be treacherous business.

When someone is called a ‘beginner,’ it’s usually done so with a negative connotation. However, I think that a beginner’s mind is a brilliant place to come from; unexplored possibility, unlocked potential. And after all, beginners are always granted permission to fail. The word ‘beginner’ suggests that a person or a project is unfinished. Beginners can develop new ideas, meet new people, and try new things.

The first step to becoming a cordial gentleman is reevaluating the way you present yourself. Dating as far back as the 17th century, the bow tie has been a timeless staple in menswear. MSNBC’s Rick Kaplan once said, “Wearing a bow tie is a statement – almost an act of defiance.” Sporting the retro piece of neckwear is a way of expressing an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think. The beauty of the bow tie is that it allows you to have some fun and express individuality without losing your level of formality. Like all trends that came before it and all trends that will follow, the bow tie comes with a rigid lists of do’s and don’ts that every man should be aware of. 

How To Wear A Bowtie


1. Pick a striking pattern, such as paisley, polka dot, or plaid. Be sure to pair a patterned bow tie with a solid oxford shirt to avoid clashing, kitschy outfits.

2. Experiment with texture. Velvet and tweed fabrics create a modern eye-catching look that won’t break your budget. Be sure to reserve satin bows for formal events.

3. Shop around. Most retailers have started carrying a small selection of bow ties due to their escalated popularity – but the experts do it better. Check out online shops such as Harding & Wilson, Wickham House, and The Tie Bar for alternative contemporary styles that you won’t find at your local department store.

4. Try different styles. Just like the classic necktie, there are plenty of ways to dress up a bow tie to create a distinct look that is all your own. The butterfly look, otherwise known as the “thistle” bow tie, is what most would consider to be the “standard” knot. For a sharp and sleek look, consider a diamond tip bow tie. Or if you’re feeling less daring, put a bold spin on a classic by trying a batwing bow tie. The batwing is usually paired with a tuxedo and reserved for formal events such as weddings or dinner parties.


1. Oversize. If a bow tie takes up too much neck space, it can easily be mistaken for a novelty prop rather than a fashion statement. You don’t want to look as if you’re in costume. Think more George Clooney and less Pee-Wee Herman.

2. Clip-on ties are always a bad idea. Men with impatiently clumsy fingers shriek at the very thought of participating in the bow tie renaissance. Thankfully there are plenty of easy to follow online tutorials that can help guide even the most inept bumblers. If the tutorials don’t do the trick, there are plenty of pre-tied options (that aren’t nearly as tacky as a clip-on) that you can explore.

3. Be afraid. Now that you know the rules, feel free to break them. Leave it untied around your neck with an open blazer. Pair it with a leather jacket instead of a suit. Mix patterns. The beautiful and terrifying job for anyone – whether they be an accountant, a pastry chef, or a yoga instructor – is that he must determine which rules to bend, which rules to break, and which rules to adhere to. Finally let go of your fear of looking ridiculous.

Man up and suit up, gentlemen.


*This article is a guest post by none other than Chad Hensley. He is a 22-year-old writer and editor from Brooklyn, New York as well as the author of Writing All My Wrongs. Say hello to him on Twitter.

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