How to Tie a Bow Tie: A Video Guide to the Best Bow Tie

Ten years ago, we never thought we would be writing this piece. Alas, the bow tie is now a staple in many man’s wardrobe and can make an appearance at a black-tie event or a casual night out with friends. In order to make sure your bow tie is spot on, we spoke to Alex Wilcox, founder of Lord Willy’s haberdashery in New York City, to give us the basic instructions for tying a proper bow tie.

But first, a bit of history. While the bow tie has a long history (from the Croatians in the 17th century to the French aristocrats and their very poufy bows), its’ current iteration rose to fame in the 19th century. It was for practical purposes that it became popular with dentists and doctors — such a short tie would never interfere while reaching over a patient.

Why a bow tie? Funny enough, the tie that has a reputation of being conservative, but is actually rather radical in today’s fashion. Bow ties are worn by everyone from Southern gents to hipsters to NFL celebrities. It’s a great alternative to your typical tie knot for many reasons: 1) it sets you apart and 2) it son’t swing all over the place or fall into your food (and you don’t need a tie bar).

You can watch Wilcox tie a bow tie in the video above, but we’ve also provided a step-by-step guide below:

Step No. 1

When placing the bow tie around your neck, keep both ends at equal length (not like a four-in-hand where one side is shorter than the other). Take the first piece, fold through, and pull it to the side. This allows you to make the shape of the bow tie.

Step No. 2

Pull the bottom piece of the fabric over itself to make the base of the tie.

Step No. 3

Your index finger is the secret! Place it in the back of the tie to form the hole.

Step No. 4

Pull the top piece over and find the hole you have created with your finger. Pull it through.

Step No. 5

Once you have pulled it through, gently correct the fabric and you will have your bow tie!

So you’ve mastered the bow tie. Up next: how to tie a Windsor knot.

Article originally published October 15, 2014.