Article written by Jane Rocca for Executive Style
The renaissance of the bow tie has seen it shift from formal occasion to street style, and the bow is longer worn by the likes of doctors and architects or reserved for the nerdy types. These days we're finding it on the high street as a casual nod to cool and in the workplace where confidence is key.
Menswear fashion designer Dom Bagnato has been wearing them since the '80s – and he believes there will always be room for the bow tie, and they're no longer reserved for formal occasions.
Put a bow on it
"Whether you wear a bow tie to work or not comes down to personal comfort," says Dom Bagnato who learned how to tie one using his thigh and avoids looking in the mirror – even to this day.
Designer Dom Bagnato has been wearing bow ties since the '80s. Photo: Fairfax Media
"If I want to feel special I'll wear a bow tie," he says.
Bagnato says bow ties give an outfit a lift and salute the dandy era of menswear.
It says you're confident in what you do and sure of who you are.Ian Neil
"Bow ties add another dimension, as is the case of a three-piece suit, but we're also seeing it in day wear and it's quite acceptable to wear it with a pair of jeans and a vest too," he says.
Sydney barrister Ian Neil would never opt for a pre-tied or clip-on bow tie. Photo: Supplied
"It makes you feel well dressed without having to wear a jacket."
Sydney barrister Ian Neil fell in love with bow ties once he started watching Mad Men on HBO a few years ago. It's the sartorial romance of tying your own that appealed too. He'll never opt for a pre-tied or clip-on version.
"You can't wear a tie ironically," says Ian Neil.
Bow ties are no longer reserved for formal occasions. Photo: Getty Images
"When it comes to the workplace it's not about wearing the loudest or brightest bow tie, you need to know how to keep the look elegant and playful without saying too much," he says.
Neil keeps his bow tie choices tonal and his corporate pinstripes and block colours in mind when coordinating for work. He says a bow tie reveals a lot about you. "It says you're confident in what you do and sure of who you are. I think when it comes to choosing one for work it's about not overdoing it," he says. Men can embrace colour, but need to be mindful of the rest of their outfit when it comes to choosing a bow tie.
Melbourne tailor Carl Navè runs a bespoke tailoring business in the CBD. Over the past five years, he's seen the bow tie transition from formal to more casual demands. They're popping up in linen and cotton varieties at country weddings and when it comes to casual wear – guys who opt for denim will gladly rock a Herringbone bow tie for a touch of difference.
Melbourne tailor Carl Navè has seen the bow tie transition from formal to casual. Photo: Supplied
"Our grandfathers wore them in an era when all men wore bow ties. We've gone back to that tradition but put it in the fashion space," says Carl Navè.
"Bow ties are big at the Spring Racing Carnival every year, but I think it's quite appropriate to see guys wearing them on weekends too," he adds.
"It's about your own personal style and how you put your look together," says Navè.
Designer Paolo Lolicata pitches to the fashion-conscious man looking for a bow tie with a difference. Photo: Paolo Benini
Peter Jackson's Design Director David Jackson says the subtle re-emergence of the bow tie is for the fashion forward man. He channels Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra when it comes to their bow tie collection.
"It is a garment that certainly gets attention so wearing one in my opinion, needs to elevate your look," says David Jackson.
"You can achieve this by opting for tonal prints and darker background colours with highlight accents. But for us, the bow tie remains a sartorial evening wear garment – from formal to weddings," says Jackson.
The choices are endless when it comes to bow ties – men can choose from a wide variety of prints from pre-tied cotton mesh bows to lace covered ones. There's paisley, floral and polka dot while block colours feature heavily.
Italian-born and Melbourne-based bow tie designer Paolo Lolicata started his business five years ago and pitches to the fashion-conscious man looking for a bow tie with a difference.
"It's the era of the beard and beauty products for men and the bow tie fits in that message nicely," says Lolicata.
"Men are embracing bow ties now more than ever and I find that guys want to wear something that others will comment on," he says.
"When I started the business some guys were initially hesitant to wear them. A lot has changed in a five years. I find there is a really big demand for them and it's in all aspects of fashion – from corporate work to occasion and casual wear. I think the trend towards them is a good thing," he says.
Lolicata says floral is here to stay. His SS16-17 collection will feature bow ties made of ceramic, plastic and paper combinations, which will put the bow tie in an artistic league of its own.
Bow ties have become such a regular staple in the Australian fashion lexicon that positive awareness campaigns like Stella Fella have been using the dicky bow for over half a decade.
"Stella Fella is about educating and encouraging men and boys to make better choices," Project Futures CEO Stephanie Lorenzo told Executive Style. "It is about recognising violence against and the exploitation of women, children and men is a crime and will not be tolerated in our community.
"That's why we are encouraging all males across Australia to wear a bow tie to work, school or university on Friday, July 29 and join a movement celebrating good men and boys in our community who proudly say NO to violence, exploitation and modern day slavery."
The campaign has been running for five years in partnership with The Salvation Army's Trafficking and Slavery Safe House and has raised over $575,000. For more information or to take part, go to www.projectfutures.com/stellafella/#sf-how-it-works
Can you tie your own bow tie? Watch the video at the top of the page for some expert tips.