Men’s fashion explained
In ‘Men’s fashion explained’ I will take one item from the classic ‘ABC of Men’s Fashion’ by Hardie Amies to discuss here on the blog. We still can learn from Sir Hardy, the late dresser of the Queen. The first and second part in the series are about Care of Cloths and The Art of Dressing.
The ABC of Men’s Fashion
Recently, I ran into a little gem called “ABC of Men’s Fashion” by sir Hardy Amies, which was published by the Victoria & Albert Museum. The book – for all men – is an alphabetical guide for a (gentle)man’s appearance. Although first published in the 1960s – the 1970s still had to come – Hardy Amies denounces the decay in the appearance of men. For us beyond the 1970s this book should be a guide to rediscover that fashion is masculine too. Every extra attention by a man to his appearance should be encouraged.
In this part I will discuss the bowtie. For those who follow me a little longer - also on Instagram - know that I am a total bowtie freak. I wear them almost daily. In time I established a nice collection of various ties. Hardie Amies however has an interesting view on bowties.
According to Mr. Amies a bowtie - worn by "other less genial characters than Lord Boothby" - could have "an aggressive air and can arouse some kind of resentment at first meeting of a new acquaintance." In other words, people might find themselves quite underdressed while meeting someone wearing a bowtie.
Well, I wear them a lot and the least I would like to achieve is to make resent the person I am meeting. I wear them because I think bowties are pretty. Following the advice of dressing, I should forget what I am wearing. And what I wear should be as that I have put the most effort in my appearance.
The purpose of the bowtie
I hope Hardie Amies means to say that bowties cannot be worn regardless. It's true that people react on the tie wearer. I often get the comments from my colleagues that I am quite neat again. But why? People know I wear them regularly.
But to be honest, I like a style that is slight different than what is considered as normal - jeans, jumper and a set of sneakers or brogues. And maybe I wear it to let people think about their own style. But isn't that a definition for dandyism: threatening existing social structures by dressing up. A bowtie shows confidence and perhaps also sophistication of the wearer and his outfit.
For me this is achieved among other items by a bowtie. And Hardie Amies argues to be careful.
How to wear
Mr. Amies does not explain how to wear a bowtie. He only says to wear one of course as white or black tie.
Present ties evolved during the Victorian era. Coates and jackets were high-closed and there was not much space left for exuberant cravats. Due to its simplicity the bowtie became a widespread accessoire. Until the end of nearly anything fashionable after WOII.
Today there are three types of bowties: the pre-tied, the clip-on and the self-tie knot. The pre-tied and the clip-on are already tied knots. The pre-tied knot has an adjustable band to put the tie on. The clip-on can be clipped on the collar. In my point of view the latter should never be worn. It looks cheap and the wearer doesn't take himself serious. Pre-tied knots are easy to wear and come in a wide ranged of varieties.
The self-tie bowtie is the absolute bowtie. It is bowtie as it meant to be. The tie shows that the wearer has put effort in knotting his tie. Pre-tied knots always look perfect. Self-tie knots don't. And that is the absolute charm of it. It is the climax of a man's self-assembled outfit.
And at the end of the day you - or some else - can unwrap yourself.
When to wear? Whenever you like it.
How to tie the knot? Online tie company Ties.com made this quite useful wizard.