Bow Tie: Function and Style Over the Ages

Stylish dressers often rely on the iconic bow tie to complete their look.

However, did you know that the bow time actually came from humble beginnings? In fact, it was initially worn among Croatian mercenaries in the 17th century. 

From Humble Beginnings to Modern Fashion Accessory

During the Thirty Years’ War, Croatian mercenaries tied scarves around their necks to keep the opening of their shirts closed.  This purely functional habit was soon adopted by the upper classes in France, who thought it very stylish to wear scarves in such fashion.  The article of clothing was called a cravat, which literally means “Croat” in French.  The cravat later evolved into what many know as the modern bow tie. 

Formal and Fixed Versus Casual and Adjustable

A traditional bow tie is generally of a fixed nature and between 14 and 19 inches in length.  It is most appropriate for formal attire.

Adjustable bow ties are a later invention. They also cost less to produce and are suitable for everyone.  A wing-collar, however, may expose the buckle or clasp of an adjustable bow tie.  So, an adjustable bow tie is better suited to conventional collared shirts that can hide the buckle or clasp.

For complete ease of use, clip-on bow ties are also available.

Bow Ties Here and Now

Historically, bow ties were associated with stuffy professions and the political class.  There is certainly no shortage of images showing bow ties on the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. 

However, over the last several years, bow ties have gone through a makeover.  They can now be found in a variety of patterns, styles, and colors — and they are no longer limited to being part of formal attire.  Don’t be surprised if you see someone sporting a bow tie with a pair of jeans or even an untied version of a bow tie around his neck. Today, it’s not surprising to see female celebrities such as Kim Kardashian sporting a bow tie, as well.