A Short History of the Bow Tie

An iconic fashion accessory, the bow tie has been loved by many throughout history and has even become a recognisable symbol of a variety of celebrities personal style. Find out where it all began for this classic piece of neck-wear.


The bow tie traces its ancestry back to the 17th century during the Prussian wars. Croat mercenaries would keep their shirts from gaping open by tying a strip of material around their neck. The French stole the idea, naming it 'cravat' from the French word for Croat, and turned it into a fashion trend. By the 19th century, the bow tie had truly emerged as an accessory to be differentiated from the cravat or neck tie.


In 1886 Pierre Lorillard designed a new type of formal wear, the tuxedo, which let the bow tie shine as an accessory of refined male elegance. Its integral role in the tuxedo launched the bow tie into the public psyche as neck wear for formal occasions, especially weddings and 'black tie' dress code events. Yet in the years since, the bow tie has reinvented itself many times as a fashion piece. From a symbol of the fashion rebel to the typical cliche of the absentminded professor with his eccentric bow tie uniform, as an accessory it has transcended trend to reach iconic status.


The bow tie has been adopted by many as their neck tie of choice, and has even become so important to their fashion style that it features as part of their personal branding. Some famous bow tie wearers of the past include Winston Churchill and Fred Astaire. Manolo Blahnik and Karl Lagerfeld have kept it as an adorning feature of their clean cut suit outfits in all its formal glory. Marlene Dietrich showed the world that women could work the bow tie too with her iconic ensemble from 1930's film Morocco. Love for the bow tie has also seen some well-deserved resurgence thanks to Matt Smith's Doctor.


To learn how you can wear this statement accessory check out this video on how to tie a bow tie with Science Guy Bill Nye. Remember (to quote the 11th Doctor), 'Bowties are cool'


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