How to tie a bow tie


Knowing how to tie a bow tie is one of those skills a woman should know, so she can help her man when the need arises. GQ style correspondent Brett Fahlgren shows Howdini's Jennifer Morris how it's done.

How to tie a bow tie

  1. Drape the bow tie around your neck so that both ends are even.
  2. Cross the right end over the left end and loop under to form a basic knot.
  3. Pull the knot so that it is snug against your neck and rest the top end on your left shoulder.
  4. Take the other end and fold it across the knot. You will see the familiar bow tie shape.
  5. Take the top end (that is resting on your left shoulder) and pull it down in front so that it crosses the center of the bow shape.
  6. Place your left finger on the front of the bow tie to hold it in place and reach behind with your right index finger to find the hole where the free end will thread through.
  7. This part is key: Do not thread the tip of the free end through – instead, with your left index finger, push the part that is closest to the center of the bow through the hole.
  8. When it first comes through the back, it may feel like it’s going to fall apart, but don’t worry. Pull enough through that it is even with the other side and adjust to make it as neat and flat as possible.
  9. Almost there! Pull the bow down towards the front and tighten. Straighten and flatten as needed.

The key is to remember that it’s not supposed to look perfect; a hand-tied bow tie adds character and charm!


JENNIFER: Hi I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini. Okay today we're going to unlock one of life's great mysteries and that is how to tie a bow-tie. I'm sure it's something you would all like to know because I would. With us is Brett Fahlgren who is the style correspondent for GQ magazine. Okay Brett take me through this.

BRETT: Tying a bow tie is not as hard as it looks. So the first step is to simply tie and up like this okay. That's exactly what you should look like after the first move. Put that up there, rest it on your shoulder and this is when the bow tie is really going to start to take shape. You just grab it and you pull it across like that.

JENNIFER: Very nice. I see it.

BRETT: And that's going to be the front of the bow tie. It's an exciting moment.


BRETT: And the next step is to take the back part and pull it in front like that and that's really what's going to hold it in place. This is the tricky part: with your finger you need to reach back behind and find there's a hole back there. And that's where the back part of the bow tie is going to go through.


BRETT: The key thing to remember is you're not going to feed it through with this end because there won't be any tension on the knot, you're actually going to pick the closest part--


BRETT: And just push it through the hole.

JENNIFER: There's the key to the bow tie.

BRETT: And it's starts to really fall apart, but don't be worried.

JENNIFER: Okay. I got a little worried.

BRETT: Little worried.

JENNIFER: I'm sure you did too.

BRETT: And now here in the back, you want to adjust it and make it look nice and flat as much as you can. Like this and that. Okay.


BRETT: It's going to go like this and then...

JENNIFER: Almost there.

BRETT: Down and towards the front and then you pull it nice and tight. Like this.

JENNIFER: And there you have--

BRETT: And there you have a bow tie.

JENNIFER: A beautiful bow tie. Let me fix your collar there.

BRETT: Now the key to remember is it doesn't look perfect.

JENNIFER: Yeah because you can't go out without your collar like that.

BRETT: Yeah. And then you help me with my collar.


BRETT: And let me tie it a little tighter and that should be a little tight like that. Now the key here is it's not supposed to look perfect.

JENNIFER: Right cause then it would look like a clip on tie.

BRETT: It would look like a clip on. Exactly.

JENNIFER: It has to have a little character.

BRETT: It has to have a little character.

JENNIFER: Yes. Thank you Brett. I'm Jennifer Morris for howdini and now we all know how to tie a beautiful bow tie.


meet theexpert
  • Brett Fahlgren

    Brett Fahlgren Style Correspondent, GQ Magazine With a resume that includes tenures at Prada and Calvin Klein, Brett Fahlgren helps guide men's fashion choices through comprehensive style tips and one-on-one personal shopping consultations. Brett's connections with top menswear designers and fashion editors make him a go-to resource among celebrities and professional athletes. In addition to his role as GQ's Style Correspondent, Brett has also hosted and produced GQ's Milan Fashion Report, interviewing top menswear designers including Miuccia more about this expert »

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