How to tie a bow tie

Written by april kohl
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How to tie a bow tie
Bow ties are commonplace at formal occasions. (handsome man image by Mat Hayward from

Indiana Jones wears one. Doctor Who wears one. Even James Bond wears one. Bow ties have been a requirement at black tie events, where formal wear is still very much the only option, for generations. Nevertheless, ask most men how to tie a bow tie and they will not know.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Bow tie

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  1. 1

    Drape the bow tie around your neck and adjust it so the left-hand side is longer than the right. Cross the left-hand side over the right and loop it around, bringing it up behind the right-hand and out the top. Hold this part of the tie aloft so it is out of the way for the moment.

  2. 2

    Fold the right-hand side of the tie back on itself so it forms a loop that looks a lot like one half of a bow tie when it is tied. Drop the side of the tie you were holding aloft so it now hangs over the front of the folded portion.

  3. 3

    Loop the draped portion of the tie over on itself with the closed end of the loop facing toward the knot you are forming. Push this side through the knot, behind the other looped portion of the tie. Tug the loop gently to adjust the bow tie. To undo the tie at the end of the evening, tug the other side.

Tips and warnings

  • Although it can be tempting to practice in front of a mirror when learning how to tie a bow tie, this will often cause confusion. You brain knows what is left and right but can easily lose track of this information when presented a reversed picture of you. For best results, practice away from the mirror.
  • A standard tie with a Windsor knot can be loosened and pulled off over your head, ready to use again another day. The structure of a bow tie is far more delicate and therefore you will be unable to loosen it for repeated use. Bow ties are either tied or undone; there is no in-between.

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