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How to tie a bow tie

Posted by John McIntyre at 2:21 PM | | Comments (20)


Mr. McIntyre,

Perhaps I simply need more seasoning in life, because at age 24 I am simply lost after the third step. Though, I suppose it might help if I had a bow tie to practice upon. On that note, what would you suggest for style? If I'm going to go all out, at least I don't want to look completely ridiculous.

Maybe I should just stick to an ordinary tie with the double Windsor knot. At least I already know I can make one of those look asymmetrical or crooked.

A double Windsor? That must give you a knot the size of a small goiter. I sometimes tie a half-Windsor, if it's a thin tie, but a four-in-hand otherwise.

You cannot figure out how to tie a bow tie without using an actual bow tie. Otherwise, just stick to the long tie.

Hi, Dad.

Sentimental for the moment when you got fed up tying my neckties for me and printed out instructions from, I checked out your video. It's really good. When the newspaper game bottoms out on you, you should pursue a carrier in voice over. You probably have at least a month to practice.

Also, I was catching up on your blog and happened upon your illegal immigrant posts. You didn't tell me such crazy people read your blog. I couldn't help cracking a smile when you encouraged "indoor voices."

See you around, old man.

Dear Mr. McIntyre, how can I thank you enough? Should I ever wander into a space/time portal that deposits me into polite 19th Century society, I shall survive without embarrassment thanks to your beautiful instructional video.
Please make more.

John, that was educational and mildly humorous at the same time. I'm a long tie guy myself, but perhaps one day I shall adventure out into the world of the bow tie.

Also, the comment from your son (I assume, considering the tying lessons) sounds like a discourse between me and my father. I appreciate a good father-son bond.

You're giving Robert Benchley a run for his money with this one!

I find bowties to be a good choice for warm weather. Not only do they keep another layer of cloth off of your chest during warm weather, but they are just neater. They will not: get caught in your seatbelt nor do they require some kind of device to keep them from flapping around in a breeze. Huzzah for the bowtie!

A double Windsor? That must give you a knot the size of a small goiter. I sometimes tie a half-Windsor, if it's a thin tie, but a four-in-hand otherwise

Collar-style is a factor in addition to tie size. I've never had a need to tie a full Windsor, but I've occasionally had a shirt with a collar spread wide enough to want a half-Windsor rather than a four-in-hand.

Oh, how big is a goiter? I've never actually seen one.

I agree with your son. Your voice would be perfect for large-scale narration. This video post was great. You should do more!!

I love the bow tie.

I went to Hampden-Sydney, where bow ties and blue blazers are always in style.

Hahahahahahahaha! Oh, good, good stuff. Thank you, Mr. McIntyre. I needed that. Whew.

John, now that you've given us the green light for commenting with less-than-perfect grammar, I just wanted to say that this is a totally awesome video. So is your entire blog. Thanks for teaching me something new (proper bow tie technique and grammar usage) and I look forward to your future writings (and youtube videos?!)

Some years ago The Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article about bow ties that quoted a gynecologist explaining that bow ties were favored in his speciality because "they don't swing forward into the materials."

On the same note as the gynecologist, I'd say a bow tie would be a smart (and safe) move for copy editors, too. Think about it: A tie can double as a weapon to strangle reporters--or better yet, yourself -- when a prose-filled masterpiece lands on your desk.


Those who cannot figure out how to tie the bow by themselves do not deserve to wear the bow! It is a distinction.

Also, your voice is much more in the tenor range than I had imagined, though this is neither here nor there (that being a dreadful cliche, I know).

A terrific piece of journalism! My dad was a shoe salesman and always wore a bow tie. Growing up I thought they were too old fashioned. My son wanting to separate himself from his peers decided to imitate his grandfather who taught him how to tie one. In turn my son had to teach me. Thank you for such a sentimental moment.

The long tie vs. bow tie vs. no tie question is still something of a topic in medical circles, now due to concerns over infection control. It's part of a larger discussion on the bacteria that hangs out on the clothing of health care workers. (There was a small, and likely statistically insignificant, study in 2004 that actually bothered to sample the flora from doctors' ties and found some less-than-pleasant regular residents.) The difficulty in going to a bow tie in medicine is its association with a particular, how shall we say... personality type. "He's a bow tie doc," is all I need to hear before I begin to prepare myself for either a.) the lecture on how the practice of medicine has declined in the last century or b.) the viva voce examination covering any knowledge I've acquired in the last eighteen years, complete with looks of withering scorn every thirty seconds or so.

As for Hal's question on goiters, they can be very small all the way to very, very large. For a visual, I refer you to Google Images (known as "Dr. Google" to your friendly local medical students).

Awesome. I am saving this link for after I start wearing long pants!

Great video!! I myself am a bow tie person. I was taught to tie a bow tie is like tying your shoes. It's the same process.

Dear John McIntyre,
After dozens and dozens of tries to make it work, I've finally bowed my first tie following your video... I thought that a french -young- man like me should be able to bow a tie at his age (of 24 yo) and I wanted to thank a british gentleman (meaning, you) for his help !
Merci beaucoup, as we say in French.
julien F.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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