With the Olympic Games in London, financial turmoil all over the globe, near daily reports of severe unrest and brutal atrocities in various corners of the world, and a bitterly contentious presidential campaign in full swing here in the USA, I am wondering what Winston Churchill would have to say about all of it if he were alive today and I could get him to sit with me for a few moments, perhaps with a pint of Newcastle Brown or Deuchars IPA.
Short of that fantasy becoming a reality, or my reading a biography of the great man to cipher out his wisdom, I thought the most expeditious way to begin a journey into the mind of Sir Winston would be to wear his favorite tie pattern, and to wear it in a bow as he did. Churchill regularly wore a bow tie and his tie pattern of choice was the iconic (because of him) navy blue with white dots: always distinguished, with the right balance of punch and formality.
Long associated with intellectualism, a bow tie is like wearable punctuation. A signature look for some (like Churchill), wearing a bow tie is a way to mix up your business look, or to show some whimsy in a dressy casual or social situation. According to Warren St. John, as published in the NY Times,
“To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.”
Tim C. from Milwaukee, an avid bow tie wearer, says:
“The truth is when you wear a bow tie you’re making a statement. But in all instances, it’s a great statement. People assume if someone has the courage to wear a bow tie then they must be smart (let’s be honest, the nerd connotation is there, you’d seldom assume someone wearing a bow tie has a low IQ) and, because they’re wearing the bow tie, they are confident with who they are. In business, being “cool” all the time isn’t effective. Being smart and confident? Who doesn’t want that?”
Bow tie wearing is clearly gaining momentum. Aaron H., who works in San Francisco for a Gaming software company, told us that his firm has instituted a policy called “Dress up Friday.” A bow tie is now part of his look on those days. A menswear publication, MRketplace, reported last winter that “Bow Tie Friday” is catching on at a NYC financial firm that has recently reverted to a “full business attire” dress policy.
What’s the biggest hurdle for most men to even consider wearing a bow tie? Until you’ve actually done it a few times, learning to tie a bow tie can rank with the world’s most frustrating activities. I would further reason that the degree of difficulty is also why it is so satisfying when you finally do it, and at least part of its character and “cool” factor. It’s true that one could buy a bow tie that is “pre-tied”, but that kind of shortcut makes the bow look too perfect. If you’re going to make the statement of wearing a bow tie, do it well. Learn to tie your own.
Channeling Churchill and feeling better already,