Most bow tie wearers love them because most other men don’t wear them. Up until maybe 10-15 years ago, bow ties were just a fraction of the sales of regular neckties. Personally, I love to wear neckties and bow ties but it wasn’t always like that, however, that all changed when I started wearing bow ties more frequently.
In the beginning, it was slightly uncomfortable but I had seen other men pulling it off in a very sophisticated and elegant way and sometimes, you have to do things that make you uncomfortable to improve your style and grow.
One thing I noticed at first was that most bow ties all had pretty much the same shape and size. While I was going through my archives of vintage men’s fashion magazines, I saw that there were hundreds of different shapes and also different sizes. If you read men’s style books, most people will tell you that a bow tie should be proportionate to your face and they show like the width of your face, should be about the width of your bow tie.
Personally, I don’t adhere to that theory. I believe that you can wear different bow ties, different sizes depending on your mood because after all, it’s a way to express yourselves and if you go back in history, you see men wearing different bow ties and different sizes as well.
My Bow Tie Collection
Red Bow Ties
Let’s start with the red tones because red in bow ties is one of the most popular colors. Obviously, I have a bunch of them and even in our shop, we have quite a few Fort Belvedere bow ties in red, however, before I started designing our own bow ties, of course, I had my own collection.
Probably the most common pattern is a micropattern; it’s basically a red background with either dots, little paisleys, or small motifs that are repetitive on the bow tie. They are so popular because they’re easy to combine with striped shirts, solid shirts, as well as solid suits, and it just adds a little bit of pattern to your outfit without being overpowering.
If you’re a follower, you know that I only wear self-tied bow ties and so everything in my collection is self-tie. Some Fort Belvedere bow ties have those diamond ends which are pointed which allow you to tie your bow tie in a way that always looks a bit non-symmetrical which is exactly what you want to achieve, otherwise, it looks like a pre-tied bow tie and that’s the hallmark of a schoolboy.
The bow tie above is made out of wool challis in a very muted red.
This shape here is slightly bigger with a somewhat more shiny silk but it has a chalky grip.
This one here is lightly a madder silk. It has blue and silver tones, very subdued works well with blazers.
This one is more chalky, again which is great for tweed outfits.
This one’s a classic red with a standard micropattern that is spaced a little more apart.
This one is a very dark burgundy with paisleys; it’s a good option if you want to wear a bow tie without standing out too much.
These dots are very bold and it’s only something if you’re willing to make an even bolder statement other than just wearing a bow tie. You can even go with bolder spots but it’s really only for people who are comfortable with what they wear.
This one is a typical vintage English madder silk and we still offer that kind of silk in our shop. It’s a process that takes much longer, is more expensive, but I think it’s worth it.
This is kind of a bold paisley tie. Paisley is a traditional pattern with origins in India that you can find all over in classic menswear. This one is oversized so you don’t see a full repeat in the bow tie which is rather unusual which is why I added it to my collection.
Here’s Fort Belvedere’s paisley bow tie with kind of an all-over pattern.
This one here is quite cool because of its unusual geometric pattern.
Another favorite of mine is this bow tie. It’s a red tone with a mix of wine and maybe purple. It is very unusual and hard to find. Also, the motifs on it appear like they’re circling and repeating.
This one here is more repp striped inspired, very classic, something you’d wear with a preppy outfit.
This is a red velvet bow tie which is a prototype from Fort Belvedere which I like to wear for evening occasions. It’s different than a black bow tie yet it’s very festive and it sparkles in the light which is just beautiful.
This one is another one of our designs. It has a very bold houndstooth pattern, it is made out of a matte silk bourette silk which is very hard to find because most of the time, silk bow ties are shiny and at Fort Belvedere, we always try to be different and add things to your wardrobe that are not just run-of-the-mill.
This one here has a classic stripe that you might know from a repp bow tie but we use a very soft shantung silk with blue and red as a background so it has a very nice color depth and it works well with any kind of blazer outfit or business suit yet it’s a bit more casual because of its texture.
Black Bow Ties
Black bow ties for most men are probably the first bow tie they wear because it’s something they need, maybe in a prom, a wedding, or whenever they wear a tuxedo or the dress code requires a black tie.
My collection obviously includes all the black Fort Belvedere bow ties which are quite a lot. We have styles in a classic silk satin which is a very high-end satin from Italy, we also have a barathea which is more matte, we also have a fine rib grosgrain and a really wide ribbed grosgrain which is very unusual and hard to find as well as velvet bow ties. All them come in different sizes and shapes and we’re also one of the few stores that offer them in a single-end bow tie which was something that very elegant gentlemen wore particularly in the 30s and in the 20s. One thing that sets our black bow ties apart from others is they come with a fixed neck size.
Most bow ties today have an adjustable sizer which is quite handy and it’s also better to stock things, otherwise, it gets quite expensive. We go the extra mile to offer you a fixed-length because it’s a traditional way and when you untie your bow tie and take it off, you can see and you can show that it’s actually made for you just like a custom piece would be made for you.
Also, if you wear a wing collar, you don’t want the adjusters to be visible which is why you want the continuous neckband. Before we offered our velvet bow ties, I actually had quite a few prototypes made from different fabrics and I still always keep it and I wear them because I test them but ultimately what ends up in the shop is only what we like the most.
So other black bow ties that I like that are pretty cool is this one it’s kind of a pointed end with a somewhat asymmetrical shape and it’s a vintage bow tie, I think from its Carconi.
This one is a vintage moire silk out of a very fine fabric. It’s called moire because sometimes you see that effect on screen if you have a very small pattern and it’s also called watered silk sometimes. To achieve this effect, you take two layers of fabric and run them through a press, it’s a special process and you don’t find it very often. The shape is a very classic shape; it’s like rectangular and when you tie it, you get a slightly thicker knot. If you use a thicker fabric, sometimes a knot can be too big so this works best if you have a thinner fabric.
Personally, my favorite evening bow tie shape is this one above which is based on the 1930s model and it has just wonderful curves and it’s very elegant.
Another cool bow tie is this one from the Gatsby collection from Brooks Brothers. It has white tips, as well as white areas, were you knot it so when you knot the bow tie you have white at the ends as well as in the knot. It’s like a vertical white strip so you have four vertical white strips which is quite dashing.
Blue Bow Ties
Again, just like with the regular neckties, blue is so popular in menswear that a lot of bow ties also come in blue.
Here we have some bold spots which is not something I’d suggest if you are just starting out because it’s quite loud.
Once you have the small micropatterns covered, you can slightly move in size and go with something like this one here with green and red.
This one here is more of a twill kind of jacquard silk with red and white accents.
You could get something in a similar print but with a higher contrast. However, you can also find them in other colors which will really change the overall look quite considerably.
It’s also good to have some repp stripes in black and red.
You can go with checks like in this bowtie. As you can see, this bowtie has an asymmetrical cut. It was a prototype we made and we still have some bow ties in this shape; they weren’t quite as popular, I think they didn’t quite understand the big advantage of being able to tie them in two different ways. The rounded part can be up or down which creates a different look.
Bow Ties With Unusual Colors
Obviously, these are also more unusual colors. This is kind of a very faded light brown with blue patterns.
Another good option for summer is a linen bow tie such as this one which is very light blue.
Another favorite of mine for summer is this one above which is very dark with some red background so it peeks out.
Most of the time, striped bow ties are angled, kind of a 45-degree angle so we try to do something different and created this one. it’s not something I wear a lot but I wanted to have different things for different occasions.
This one here came with the vintage tuxedo I bought and it’s navy blue, it has a diamond shape, it’s kind of a barathea but for black-tie, you should always go with black bow ties even if the fabric is midnight blue.
Purple Bow Ties
Another great color for bow ties is purple. This one here has white dots which are quite contrasting.
This one here is from Fort Belvedere; it has much subtler paisley patterns and because of that, I like it a lot. It works well with gray, or navy, charcoal, but you can even wear it with green so it’s quite versatile. It is different but it’s not super loud, a wonderful addition to any gentleman’s bow tie closet, in my opinion.
This one is also cool; it has kind of a very subtle butterfly shape so the knot looks different and because of that, I wanted this bow tie.
White Tie Bow Ties
As you may have seen, we also have bowties for white tie ensembles and I believe it’s the largest selection you can find in the world. Of course, they’re all either single end or come in fixed next sizes because when you wear white tie, you always have a wing collar and an adjuster would always show. I have all of them in my collection and I wear them whenever a dress code requires white tie but I also have different ones that are vintage in different sizes.
Green Bow Ties
Here is a very summery green bow tie with a vertical stripe from Fort Belvedere and it was a limited edition fabric so I don’t think we have it anymore but sometimes, when you have bow ties especially if they’re in a coarse weave such as a jacquard weave and you have a beard, you will find little threads pulling on the bow tie. Just think of it like your beard being sandpaper next to a very delicate fabric and over time, you will get pulling threads.
Good thing is you can cut them off. I use our nail clipper from our manicure set because it allows me to get very close and be very accurate so I don’t accidentally cut into the fabric. It’s always good to have in mind when you wear bow ties, try to shave beforehand. It’s good for your bow tie and if you have a beard, definitely go only with printed bow ties because they have a much finer and tighter weave than like a jacquard woven bow tie where you can actually see the weave because those are much more prone to pulling threads.
Here, we have a classic houndstooth bourette pattern from Fort Belvedere.
This one is an unusual kind of turquoise repp stripe style silk.
Bow Ties In Other Colors
Last but not the least, I have a bunch of bow ties that are all a little bit different. There are tones of brown, yellow, and orange, or interesting patterns.
First, it’s like this tartan pattern which is something that works really well for Christmas parties.
This one above is a bold dotted bow tie made out of a limited edition silk by Fort Belvedere that we don’t offer any longer.
This one was a prototype out of a knitted bow tie; it’s a knitted wool but I found it was much too soft and flimsy.
This one I thought was quite cool because again, it has this super large patterns on an unusual kind of creamy yellow background.
This one here is a summery pattern from Fort Belvedere that we don’t offer anymore, it’s kind of Madras inspired.
I like a this one a lot because it has this pale beige or buff background with elements of blue, orange, and green, very unusual but easy to combine.
This one here is much bolder in a bronze tone with blue dots while this other one is more yellow and has white dots.
This one here is a brown and pale blue paisley one in a very bold diamond shape.
This one here I like to wear especially with light blue shirts, it provides contrast, it’s a great option for summer, it lightens up your outfit.
Of course, there are other silk bourette ties from Fort Belvedere which I’m a big fan of at the moment.
Obviously, this is a larger bow tie collection and it took me years to build it. I’ve had great luck at estate sales because people who are into bow ties tend to have a lot of them and since not many are interested in them, you can pick them up at a very inexpensive price point.
So if you want to build a bow tie collection, my tip is to take it slow, think about what you have in your wardrobe, get different pieces with different textures, different colors, and different patterns, and build something that works for you over time.
What do you think of my bow ties?
My Bow Tie Collection
All you need to know about bow ties; Sven Raphael’s collection, how he built it, & his favorite ones.
Sven Raphael Schneider
Gentleman’s Gazette LLC