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How to Tie Bow Ties

by Catherine Amo

Bow tie

Bow ties are part of a gentleman's attire for formal white- or black-tie events. These ties -- long ribbons of fabric tied around the neck to form a bow -- are worn primarily with dinner jackets and suits. There are also pre-tied and clip-on versions. The process of tying a bow tie may appear complicated because it requires more movements than you'd expect for such a small accessory. Once you do it successfully, however, you'll see it is a simple process.


  1. Adjust the tie to your neck size. Most bow ties have numbered notches at the back for each neck size. Slide the buckle to the appropriate number.

  2. Button your dress shirt up to the top button and pull the collar up. Place the tie around the collar and bring the ends to rest on your chest. For the following steps, mentally label the right side of the bow side A and the left, side B.

  3. Pull side A down so that it is about one and one-half inches longer than side B. This is the side that will do most of the work, so it needs to be longer.

  4. Cross A over B; then pass it under B and out through the loop. Pull both sides to make a knot. Side A should now be on your left side. Slide a finger under the knot and wiggle it to adjust the tie until it is comfortable.

  5. Fold B and place the indentation against the knot at your neck and the folded edge of B on the left side. This action doubles up the shorter end of the tie to form the front loop of the bow. Bring A from behind and over the center of B, at the indentation.

  6. Pull the folded edges of B to the side so you can see the "hole" behind it. This is the loop formed by the strands of the bow tie.

  7. Take the portion of A at the bottom of B and poke it through the hole with your finger. Stop when you get to the indentation of A. A small fold of A should be on your right side. Release the tie.

  8. Complete the bow tie. Take the A fold you just made and the opposite edge of B, and pull both at the same time. This creates another knot and secures the bow tie. Adjust the folds until the tie is well aligned. Then pull your collar down.

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