Style Necessary Style

In praise of the bow tie: Manuel L. Quezon III on a fashion wildcard

“You know,” said my friend, “no one trusts people in bow ties.” 
Manuel L. Quezon III | Sep 28 2018

Bow ties are dangerous things. Or put another way, people who wear bow ties are suspicious people. This is what someone told me when they saw me wearing a bow tie on my TV show. “You know,” said my friend, “no one trusts people in bow ties.” I rattled off the list of respectable people who wore bow ties: Winston Churchill, pundit George F. Will, and so on. For every name, my friend countered with the names of dodgy people: Louis Farrakhan, Brother Mike Velarde. I stopped wearing bow ties on TV.

But I love them—bow ties, that is—but I have to admit, part of my fondness for them is peevishness. No one really fashionable wears them. The people who like them tend to be idiosyncratic misfits in a society that demands conformity. The past 50 years have been about informality as a manifestation of freedom— and bow ties are, well, formal; they are, therefore, anti-modern and anything smacking of being old-fashioned is The Enemy.

Even that last bastion of the bow tie—formal wear, or specifically, evening dress—has been successfully invaded by the four-in-hand tie. The dazzling Adonises of Hollywood have taken to wearing black four-in-hand neckties with their tuxedos. There is more to this fashion revolution than simply not wanting to look like a penguin. Bow ties require skill; the skill require to tie them is not easily learned. And yet since people know better than to wear clip-on “long” ties, everyone has a sense that the use of clip-on bow ties is simply too tasteless to tolerate for very much longer.

I have four reasons for loving bow ties. First is conceit: it was difficult to learn how to tie them, and I take pride in being able to do so. The second involves being accident-prone during meals. My neckties exercise a magnetic attraction to food, particularly greasy foods and soup. It is much easier to clean a food-stained shirt than a tie decorated with one’s lunch or dinner. The third reason is eccentricity, a character failure of many writers: wearing them makes me different. The fourth? Cost. Cheaper, and are practically immune to changes in fashion (since they are an anti-fashion statement) and thus, last longer.

And let me add, finally, that as my salad days recede behind me, bow ties have one thing going for them: the older you are, the more suitable bow ties become.


This article originally appeared in Metro Him.