How to Tie a Bow Tie

One reason bow ties have never surmounted neckties is because it’s hard to learn how to tie a bow tie. Because a bowtie is smaller than a necktie, tying the tie requires more dexterity and fine hand work. With some a few tips and some practice, though, you’ll be able to tie a bow tie with little trouble.

Remember, tying a bow tie isn’t any different than tying your shoe string. You want to tie them close enough and neat enough that look sharp once the bow tie is in place – that’s all. If the bow tie isn’t perfect after you tie it off, remember to adjust the tie to specifications.

Step by Step Instructions for How to Tie a Bow Tie the Easy Way

Learning how to tie the bow tie is all about getting the tying motion down, then the art of adjusting the bow tie. Keep adjusting until you have it right. The following set of instructions should help you learn how to tie a bow tie the easy way.

Adjust Your Shirt

Turn your collar up, so that your collar won’t get in the way of tying your bow tie. Button the top button of your dress shirt. You want your shirt and bow tie to fit snug against your neck.

Adjust the Bow Tie’s Length

Adjust the tie so it fits your neck size. You want the tie to fit snugly, with some room left for you to breathe comfortably.

Prepare to Tie

Prepare the bow tie for tying by measuring out the two ends, letting each hang down your front on either side of your neck. One end of the tie should hang down about 1.5 inches lower than the other side.

Tying the Ends Together

Take the longer end in hand, take it across and then behind the shorter end of the tie. Once it is behind the shorter end, take the long end over the short end. This should form a basic knot, with the longer end looped under, back and then over the short end of the bow tie.

Once you do this, cinch the knot in a snug fashion around your neck. The shorter end of the tie should now be cinched into half of an hourglass shape.

The Short End of the Bow Tie

Double the short end of the bow tie upon itself. Fold or pinch the short end at the thickest part of its length, which should be halfway through the short end of the bow. This should form the kind of bow you’re looking to make. This bow should be in front, and you can now position the bow into a horizontal position on your neck. (Horizontal being how a bow tie is supposed to look when finished.) You should now have half your bow tie in place.

The Long End of the Bow Tie

Now, take the other end of the tie, which should have been the longer end to start with, double this end of the bow tie upon itself and pinch in the middle to form a bow. Once again, fold this second bow over the bow you already have in place. Next, in a fashion similar to how you folded the other half of the tie, fold the longer end of the bow tie. This should form a similar bow shape.

Then take this second bow you’ve formed (the longer end, originally) and fold it underneath the first bow you formed.

This should tie off the first bow and leave room for your to tuck the second bow behind the first bow, in mirror fashion.

Adjust the Bow Tie

How to Tie a Bow Tie

How to Tie a Bow Tie

Now that you have the two bows in place, you’ll need to adjust the shape of the two bows, so your tie will look neat and organized. Adjust by pulling on the ends of the bows, which should help to straighten out any imperfections in your bowtie set-up.

Adjust the knot in the middle, making it look neat and full. A disorganized knot will ruin the entire look of your bow tie.

How to Tie a Western Bow Tie

Tying a western bowtie isn’t much different than the standard bow tie, but you’ll be working with a different piece of equipment. Most “western bow ties” are thinner than the bow ties you’re used to. These are the step by step instructions for tying a western bow tie.

Adjust the Bow Tie

Adjust both ends of the bow tie to where they are of equal length. Cross one end over the other end and pull the two snugly around your neck. Adjust accordingly, to make sure this fit will be comfortable and neat all night.

The Lead End

Call the end that’s laying on top of the other end of the bow the “lead end”. Take this end underneath the loop and once again pull the bow snug. This really is no different than tying a shoestring at this point – just with bigger strings.

At this point, take the lend end of your tie and lay it over your second end of the tie. The second end should be hanging towards the ground, down the front of your shirt. When you bring the lend end behind, this should form a small loop.

Thread the Loop

Take the lead end of the tie and thread it through the loop you’ve created.

Cinch the Tie

Next, take both ends of the tie and pull on them in opposite directions. This should let you cinch up the tie, roughly into the place you want it to fit. Adjust the two end until they are roughly the same length.

Make a Knot in the Bow Tie

Once you have the bow tie cinched into the place you want it, make a knot by pulling the two ends a little tighter.

Often, the center knot will be bunched up at this point. Don’t get frustrated. Simply smooth out the center knot and adjust it. Like with learning how to tie the bow tie, western bow tie tying is mostly about making adjustments once you near completion. You want your bow to be as neat as possible, so smooth until perfect.

If the western bow tie completely frustrates you, you can find all kinds of clip-on western bow ties in costume shops and novelty shops. This shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on the fashion sense of wearing a western bow tie – just a statement of fact. People like to dress up like cowboys and westerners, that’s all.

Now you know how to tie a bow tie and a western bow tie. You can mix the two into your outfit ensemble from time to time. Bow ties get a lot of grief in the media, but a good, well-tied bow tie is a classic way for a man to look neat and sharp. Add the bow tie to your wardrobe ideas.

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