How to Tie an Old-Fashioned Crossover Bow Tie

Updated July 20, 2017

The bow tie has been much maligned over the years. Viewed as a status symbol by some; an abomination by others. From formal black tie events to "Revenge of the Nerds," bow ties truly possess a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Whether dressing to the nines or simply adding a flamboyant touch to your favourite collared shirt, wearing a bow tie is sure to draw attention. There are numerous clip-on styles available, but tying your own adds extra flare and appeal.

Adjust the size of the bow tie by placing the hook into the slot that matches your neck size.

Flip up your collar. Drape the bow tie around your neck with one side about 1 1/2 inches longer than the other. The bottom of the short side should line up with the narrow portion of the hourglass shape of the long side.

Cross the long side over the short side, forming an "X." Bring the long end up through the X behind and then over the short end. Pull the ends gently to adjust the tightness of the bow tie. Pinch the X with one hand and hold it.

Fold the short end into a half bow. The fold should be at the widest point. Hold the folded half-bow with the centre at the middle of the X. Pull the long end up behind and then over the centre of the half-bow. Pinch the half-bow in the centre to hold it in place. There should be a loop between the half-bow and the band around your neck.

Fold the long end at its widest point and feed it through the loop behind the half-bow. Tighten the bow by pulling on the folded portions of the front and back half-bows. Flip your collar down and continue to align and adjust the bow tie until the desired look is achieved.


Tying a bow tie takes patience and practice. You will probably need several attempts to tie it properly. Using a mirror to watch yourself can help in tying your bow tie.

Things You'll Need

  • Freestyle bow tie
  • Collared dress shirt
  • Mirror (optional)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Lonnie McGowan began freelance writing in 2008 and has a diverse background, having written and published many items including safety manuals, training documents, technical articles, and instruction sheets. McGowan is a graduate of Clover Park Technical College with an associate degree in computer networking and information systems security, and owner of a local computer service and repair business.