30.1.07

The bow tie: who needs it?

Bow tie tying got you all tied up, at least they are not going with a clip on bow tie... tacky tacky.

A generation of women grew up following Shirley Conran’s mantra “Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom”. Modern men have arrived at the same conclusion about bow-ties.

Every time a ball or an awards do came up I’d find myself e-mailing around frantically trying to find some well-educated chap who knew how to tie the damn thing. After half an hour’s torture I’d give up and I’d say “Never mind — the Concierge at the Hilton/Dorchester/Grosvenor House will know how.” They never did.

There are no bow-tie wearers left in the public eye — not since Robin Day died and Professor Heinz Wolff stopped being on TV. The advertising and PR industries had their bow-tie wearers in the 1980s — men who thought a piece of polka-dotted silk made them look creative and free-thinking. But even they have succumbed to the open-neck now. They now express their personalities with lurid shirts instead.

The adherents argued that the bow-tie was practical — it didn’t get in the way. Fine for surgeons and snooker players — pretty irrelevant for the rest of us.

But there is a little light at the end or the tunnel



Understand this and you are on the way to understanding that the black tie demanded at the Oscars and other formal occasions is an invention designed to save men from themselves. True, black tie can make it hard to distinguish at first glance between an unusually short Basingstoke chartered surveyor on a spree and Hollywood royalty. But consider for a moment the errors from which black tie can redeem a chap — if only he’d let it. Those skinny black ties that make their wearers look like a refugee from Pauline Fowler’s funeral rites. The deeply perverse white tux/black shirt/white tie combo that is sartorial code for major personality disorder. The glimpse of outré waistcoat that signals “Office bore. Avoid at all costs.”

Not convinced? Then consider this. Women find black tie sexy precisely because of the little element of mystery it lends. The bare forked animal inside the penguin suit might be an accountant, a bouncer, an unemployed actor or a prince. Who’s to know? But it might be interesting to find out . . .

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Learn how to tie a bow tie with easy to follow video instruction.

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