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Fashion & Finance: Go ahead, tie one on!

July 13, 2012

On a trip to New York City not too long ago, my husband asked me to pick him out a little something while I was shopping. This was not out of the ordinary, as I often pick him up a new shirt, sweater or dress shirt while I’m out looking for myself. What was surprising, however, was the specific request he made… he wanted a bow tie!

In my mind, the bow tie makes me think of stylish southern gentleman, nerdy characters in movies, elderly fellows and Orville Redenbacher. But, I happen to know that bow ties are back, and have been seen on many young Hollywood stars and hipsters, athletes, trendsetters and members of the “cool crowd.” A bow tie was a very out-of-the-ordinary accessories request from my husband, but I was excited that he wanted to try something new.

Very much the opposite of my obsessive personality when it comes to fashion, my husband is very laid back, not terribly concerned with the latest styles or trends, and likely most comfortable in cotton t-shirts with shorts or jeans. But, as often as we attend weddings, he had decided that he wanted to dress up his normal wedding guest attire and give the classic bow tie a try. I was all for it—something new to shop for!

After looking around a bit I finally settled on a very classic looking blue and red polka dot pattern from Bloomingdales, hoping it would generate a positive reaction. They even provided me with small foldable instructions on how to tie the knot!

While I had looked around I found it difficult to zero in on something that I thought he would like, as many of the colors or patterns seemed too wild or busy for his taste. Choosing something more classic and tame seemed the safest bet to settle on.

My husband liked my choice, and a few days before the wedding we were scheduled to attend, I instructed him to hit up the internet to search for a “bow tie tutorial” on YouTube, to figure out how to fasten it properly. Imagine our surprise during his web search when he found hundreds of videos to choose from, with different tips, suggestions and style advice. You really can find anything on the internet!

After two days of practicing along with the tutorial video, he wore it to a friend’s wedding last weekend (congrats Jay and Christine!) and rocked his new look. It was something different, showed off a bit of personality and made him stand out in a stylish way. I’d have to say the bow tie was a success, and may become his “thing” at any weddings, business and upcoming dressy events we may attend in the future.

A classic and fun accessories item for the guys, I thought I’d write this week’s post all about the bow tie. It’s a great alternative to the typical office-appropriate and sometimes boring tie, and adds a little fun and flair to professional attire for men. It’s also a great option for a special event, awards show or client dinner, and with hundreds of thousands of colors and patterns available, is a look that can work for anyone, if you have the confidence to give it a try!

From Wikipedia, “The bow tie originated among Croatian mercenaries during the Prussian wars of the 17th century: the Croat mercenaries used a scarf around the neck to hold together the opening of their shirts. This was soon adopted (under the name cravat, derived from the French for "Croat") by the upper classes in France, then a leader in fashion, and flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

It’s been said that men are either bow-tie-wearing guys or they aren’t. Many perceptions about this classic accessory stem from the thought that only certain professionals (lawyers, scientists, politicians, mathematicians, TV pundits, professors and magicians) are the ones to wear the style. But I believe that bow ties are cool,  and have not only seen them pop up on some of the menswear runways, but have also seen them featured in fashion magazines, fall fashion catalogues and even show up in pop culture… think red carpet events and on television!

Famous bow tie aficionados
Check out this interesting Wikipedia article, a look back at the bow tie and those throughout history who have chosen to wear it. A few of my favorites include James Bond, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Bertram Cooper from “Mad Men,” Pee-Wee Herman, Karl Lagerfeld and Bill Nye “the Science Guy.”

Bowties in cyberspace
Bow tie appreciation can be found on the web as well, so if you like the look, dive into these cool bow tie blogs and websites and explore them for workplace style inspiration: (The July 1st blog post actually covers bow tie styles for the ladies!)

There is even a finance-themed blog with a bow tie twist! Check out:

Bow tie style tips
The appropriate size should never be broader than the widest part of your neck and should not reach past the tips of the collar of your shirt.

Color and pattern: If you are afraid this accessories item is a bit too out of the ordinary for you, choose a color or pattern that is a bit more classic or subdued to try out the look and ease into it. Stripes and solids are safe and a great way to see if you like the look… then you can be more adventurous and try more bold patterns.

Consider the time of day: For daytime wear while at the office, at client meetings or business events, consider choosing textured fabrics including cotton, seersucker, madras, wool or grosgrain. You can also opt for patterns such as polka dots, paisley and stripes. For evening or when an occasion calls for formalwear, a black or white satin bow tie style is appropriate, but pay close attention to invites and what the dress code dictates. You can also consider tones of gray and blue, and interesting prints and patterns for something more unique.

Practice, practice, practice: Much like learning to tie your shoes, learning the proper way to create the perfect knot takes time, so take to the internet, check out YouTube, or ask someone who knows how to instruct you to learn the process.

What’s available: Learn the different types of bow ties out there and choose what best works for you! There are three basic types: 1) pre-tied, 2) clip-on and 3) self-tied. Bow ties also come in three basic looks: 1) bat-wing, 2) butterfly or thistle and 3) diamond tip.

If you are looking to add a bowtie or two into your wardrobe right now, check out the following links for some great steals and deals.

HUGO silk bow tie

The Bow Tie Club

Best of luck, and feel free to post your favorite bowtie looks on the Accounting Today Facebook page. We’d love to share your style with others readers to show how this look can be done by dapper CPAs!

Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and was named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickCPAs and @EmilyBurnsPR, or email her at



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