Modern gentlemen tend to tie their bows in a standard and consistent way, which may suggest that there aren’t other, perhaps fancy bow tie knots. Not so! As bow tie history plainly shows, there are numerous different bow tie knots to play with.
Although, to be fair - as you will see - the more accurate way to describe types of bow tie knots is to address the different ways how to tighten a bow tie knot.
How Do You Tie a Bow Tie Knot?
The first eight steps of every bow tie knot we’ve featured are the same - it’s how you adjust the bow once tied that determines the final look. We have an easy to follow step-by-step YouTube guide on how to tie a bow tie, and have also captured each step here.
Note that these steps are written for the right-handed gentleman. If you are left-handed, try doing the opposite of these directions and see what it feels right.
Creating the ideal bow tie knot may be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature.
We have selected this handsome navy and white polka dot bow tie, in our Jackson shape, to demonstrate the basic knot.
Step 1: Prepare
Begin with your right side about an inch longer than your left.
Step 2: Cross
With your right hand, take the right side and cross it over the left.
Step 3: Under & Through
Now, hold the left side in your right hand and, with your left hand, push the fabric under and through.
Step 4: Cinch
Once pulled through, cinch the ends in order to create a simple knot with sides of even length.
Step 5: First Bow
With the bottom side in hand, make your first bow by folding the fabric in half. In your left hand you’ll have a loop; in your right you’ll have the end.
Step 6: Pinch
Pull the first bow loop and its end to the front, leaving the top side to lay in between. Pinch the fabric together with your left hand, creating a hole.
Step 7: Second Bow
Switch the pinched fabric to your right hand and with your left take the long top side end and push it through the hole, letting your index finger create the loop as you push it through.
Step 8: Tie & Tighten
As you would with shoelaces, now pull both bows until the knot is secure, comfortable and handsome. This is the basic knot.
This knot is also known as the Jackson style. It's great for less formal gatherings and ideal for creating all of the knots we’ve featured here.
The Small Bow Tie Knot
Pulling the fabric to create a tight central knot and neat, small bows quickly produces the small knot. Timeless and elegant, the small knot - which was Winston Churchill’s trademark knot - is a fantastic choice for the gentleman who is either more modest with his fine accessories, or has other accessories that he wishes to take center stage in the moment.
The small knot, tied with our Jackson shaped bow tie.
The Parallel Bow Tie Knot
From the basic knot or small knot, creating the parallel knot is elementary. Simply loosen the knot and adjust the fabric until the bow presents in a softer, fuller formation.
The parallel knot, tied with our Jackson shaped bow tie.
The Cross Bow Tie Knot
The cross knot offers a deliberate nod to Victorian bow ties of the past. Though it looks elaborate, it is another variation on the basic knot which - instead of being tucked and tied neatly, one bow on top of another - is pulled apart. The final result is akin to a traditional bow, such as is seen on a gift. It just requires a bit of fixing. Given its volume, the cross bow knot is best accomplished from the foundation of a fuller knot.
Bow Tie Shape & Length
You can achieve varied bow tie looks by altering the length of the neckband, and by choosing different bow tie shapes.
At R. Hanauer, we offer five basic shapes (the four below, plus the Jackson above):
1. Classic: The Henry / Churchill
The Henry / Churchill has a 2¼" standard style bow tie shape, and is among our most popular styles.
2. Butterfly: The Phillip & The Stuart
Our 2½" butterfly bow tie, the Phillip, is also a well-favored shape at R. Hanauer - as is our 3” butterfly, the Stuart.
The Phillip, tied into a basic bow tie knot.
The Stuart, tied into a basic bow tie knot.
3. Diamond Tip: The Louie & The Stanley
We offer two diamond tip bow ties - the 2 ⅜” Louie and the 2” Stanley. This cut is also known as the Diamond End or Diamond Point.
The Louie, tied into a basic knot.
4. Single End Bow Tie
The Single End bow tie is for the connoisseur who strives for simple elegance. Having no hardware, the Single End is an especially good choice for a tuxedo shirt.
More Bow Tie Knot Knowledge!
Menswear is full of tradition and nuance, and it just so happens to be our favorite topic! The R. Hanauer Gentleman’s Guide is chock full of information and inspiration for all ages, including:
- Bow Tie Fashion Rules
- How To Wear A Bow Tie Casually
- How To Pair a Bow Tie and Pocket Square
- Self Tie Bow Ties Vs. Pre Tied Vs. Clip On
- Can You Wear a Bow Tie With a Suit?
Check out our social media pages as well - we’re on Facebook and Instagram. We invite you to share your favorite #RHanauer looks and to tell us what menswear tips, tricks and history would be of interest to you. We’re here to help!