HOW many men in the City would be comfortable wearing a bow tie to work? Answer: very few, even among those who can actually tie one. It may once have been a cornerstone of the banking look, but now it’s about as common a sight in the Square Mile as a bowler hat.
That’s a shame. It’s not as if the City is ever going to become a hotbed of sartorial adventurousness, but the bow tie is too elevated an item to justify its banishment. Worn with a suit on an occasional basis, a smart bow – monochrome or with a subtle pattern, as opposed to the sort of thing that says “office joker” – can be a rather elegant way of setting oneself apart from the herd. You might take a bit of flack at first, but absorbing that in as unruffled a manner as possible only enhances the effect.
Don’t just take my word for it. Patrick Grant of Savile Row tailors Norton and Son has made the bow tie a central element of his revival of E Tautz, the venerable former military tailoring brand. “There’s a sense of playfulness to wearing one in place of a normal tie, but it’s also extremely smart,” he says. “It’s a quirkily English look.”
Since they do leave shirt exposed that a normal tie would cover up, bows work particularly well with three-piece or double-breasted suits. Anyone put off because they don’t know how to tie one should bear in mind that they’ve been managing a bow in their shoelaces since they were small – practice by sitting down and tying one round your knee, exactly as you would a shoelace loop. After a bit of practice it’s easy. And while it’s probably not the thing to wear to a meeting with your most important new investors, how about using it to dress up instead of down on casual Fridays? This time next week, give it a go.