Gentlemen’s Cravats – The Bow Tie: A Brief History

The Pink Bow Tie from Thomas Pink

The Pink Bow Tie from Thomas Pink

The innovation of the cravat allowed for it to develop into several variations of gentlemens neck ties that became distinct types of cravats over time. One of the most familiar is the bow tie. This stylized cravat has come to define a gentleman in every aspect and is, perhaps, the single piece of apparel that defines a gentleman in every situation. Whether in use, or not, the bow tie communicates the situation a gentleman finds himself in (say British super-spy James Bond), whether tied,

Sean Connery as James Bond - Bow Tie Tied

Sean Connery as James Bond - Tied Bow Tie and Ready For Action

or untied,

Daniel Craig as James Bond - Untied Bow Tie

Daniel Craig as James Bond - Untied Bow Tie and Ready For Action

By simply undoing his bow tie a secret agent can let us know so many things. And while these gents look great keep in mind they are professional killers! Imagine what the bow tie can do for the average gentleman.

The well-dressed gentleman has been associated with the bow tie through the modern age. They have instilled confidence in our leaders, from Benjamin Disraeli to Winston Churchill in Great Britain,

Benjamin Disraeli in a Bow Tie and Looking Dandy

Benjamin Disraeli in a Bow Tie and Looking Dandy

Winston Churchill Beat Hitler (Yes, THAT Hitler) in a Bow Tie

Winston Churchill Beat Hitler (Yes, THAT Hitler) in a Bow Tie

to the United States, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt rocked a bow tie into the White House,

Lincoln - Republican Dandy in a Bow Tie

Lincoln - Republican Dandy in a Bow Tie

Roosevelt - Democrat Dandy in a Bow Tie

Roosevelt - Democrat Dandy in a Bow Tie

and of course one could go on and on with men of distinction who donned the bow tie with great effect. We shall leave that topic for another delightful time.

Historically the bow tie settled into the gentleman’s wardrobe in the late Victorian era. The above examples of Disraeli and Lincoln demonstrate some of the earliest forms of bow ties. You can see the connection to the earlier cravats and where the bow tie is about to emerge.

And thank goodness it did! The bow tie has become the pinnacle of fashion for the neck. The gentleman both wears the bow tie in the most formal setting as well as being the pride of the Dandy. They come in silk for the elegant touch and they come in cotton for common touch. Andre Benjamin, help me out here. First, show me the sophisticated formality of the bow tie:

Andre Benjamin Demonstrates the Formal Cool of the Bow TIe

Andre Benjamin Demonstrates the Formal Cool of the Bow TIe

Great! Now, how about the steamy swingin’ look?

Andre Benjamin Demonstrates the Swingin' Heat of the Bow TIe

Andre Benjamin Demonstrates the Swingin' Heat of the Bow TIe

Thank-you, and fabulous use of the straw hat!

Still in doubt about the awesomeness that is the simple bow tie? I refer you to this image of how regal the bow tie makes the gentleman look in the past and present:

Edwardian Gentleman with Bow Tie and Top Hat

Edwardian Gentleman with Bow Tie and Top Hat

from the dignity the bow tie bestows on the Edwardian gentleman to the suave mantle of ultimate cool for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in Bow Ties and Delicate Mayhem

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in Bow Ties and Delicate Mayhem

Should there still be any foolish debate left, I present how the bow tie works equally well with decorating the female sex with sexy elegance,

Josephine Baker in White Bow Tie Looking Delicious

Josephine Baker in White Bow Tie Looking Delicious

Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Leah Renee as Playboy Club Bunny Hostesses

Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Leah Renee as Playboy Club Bunny Hostesses

And they even work their magic untied on the opposite sex, perhaps even better than when on a gentleman,

Kate Moss Looking Sexy with an Untied Bow Tie

Kate Moss Looking Sexy with an Untied Bow Tie

Thank-you Kate Moss (and I still need that tie back. Seriously.).

There you have a brief introduction to the bow tie and why you should start wearing them. Stay tuned for instructions on how to tie your own…

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  1. Pingback: Insider Movie Wardrobe Show in Toronto – October 15, 2011 | Kingpin Chic

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