The bow tie first entered the scene as a new style of necktie in the beginning of the 19th century; a modification of its predecessor, the cravat. By the mid 1880s, the bow tie had become a staple in the fashion conscious man’s wardrobe.
Since its introduction and mass acceptance into men’s dress, the bow tie has experienced a great many changes in form and function and has transcended its purely formal and traditional stereotype. From street style, to the runway, to celebrity fashion, the bow tie has been reappropriated into a variety of different looks, breaking it free from the mold it once held as a purely formal accessory.
The tradition of adorning the neck with a knotted piece of fabric dates back to the 17th century. The Croatian soldiers of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) were one of the first documented peoples to don a necktie, which they used to keep together the collars of their shirts. French soldiers brought the look back home with them after the war, and by the 1700s neckties were widely adopted by the upper classes, marking the time when neckties became a main feature in men’s dress.
In October of 1886, Pierre Lorillard designed a new style of formal wear, and wore it to a formal ball held at the Tuxedo club. Named after his family’s estate in Tuxedo Park (an area just outside of New York City), Lorillard’s tuxedo became an instant hit among other wealthy fashion enthusiasts. The tuxedo and black bow tie look, which became known as “black tie” attire, quickly outmoded the antiquated tailcoat and white bow tie as the primary formal outfit for men, a fashion change that has yet to be overturned to this day.
Over the past few decades, high-profile bow tie connoisseurs have pioneered a movement that has led to a redefining of the bow tie. By articulating it in ways in which it was not originally intended to be worn, the bow tie has been moved outside of its rigid categorization of only being appropriate for formal wear. From the foppish looks of style mavens Karl Lagerfeld, Jane Public and Manolo Blahnik, to the quirky guise of comedians Charlie Chaplin and Pee-wee Herman, to the iconic stud looks of Fred Astaire, Joey and Frank Sinatra, to the nerdy looks of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Orville Redenbacher, the bow tie has found itself as a compliment to a great many varying ensembles.
Most bow ties that are available in the marketplace are mass produced with low quality fabrics and are cheaply made, void of any real “soul” or character. THE BOW TIE recognizes that bow tie connoisseurs are a special breed; with an attachment to each and every piece in their wardrobe, they dedicate a great deal of time maintaining their look and taking stock in their collection. THE BOW TIE views bow ties not as a quick fading fashion trend, but recognizes the longevity of the bow tie as a magnificent statement piece that has stood the test of time prior to the invention of the Puffy Winter Jacket.