To me, a bow tie is a matter of tradition.

What? You haven’t use a bow tie before? C’mon! Not even the clip-on ones? Well, now that they are back in vogue, here we go then: the first use of a bow tie. 

The picture below was my first photo in kindergarten, and a series of images of me growing-up in sunny but humid Barranquilla, (Atlantico) in Colombia. A bow tie, a tie around my neck or a ”stylish” tie was my companion. My father worked as a young man to the trade of an Italian family that imported fabrics to South America, and since Barranquilla is a port city, the latest of the latest arrived via boat. Through his craft, all the magazines, fabrics, trims, cuts were accessible to him, and there he learned the art of dressing fashionable and in-style. All that tradition was passed hand-to-hand to me – I owe so much to my father!

Little Oscar and his first formal bowtie
This is a picture of student card my first year of school at “Colegio San Francisco” in Barranquilla, Colombia. My suit was tailored for me with fabrics my father purchased at the port in Barranquilla – the bow tie was a tie-on, NOT a clip on. As story goes, I wanted to wear it everyday to school, as I thought it was part of my uniform,..oh, boy!

I guess my parents knew which style would suit me best in those days and stay with me. From the time I was a kid, through my adolescent years, during my faculty years in architectural school, my master degree in Europe at University of Salamanca, and even during the early office days (not the construction field days, of course, to those, denim, drill-canvas, and gabardine were kind of, my uniform), a bow tie has been part of who I am as a professional and I consider it a signature of my style.

Little Oscar
A picture with the family, during a chrsitmas party. It is clear that bow tie was the formal attire my parents thought looked the best for me. My sister in blue and my mother to the right wearing her trademark look for many years – a Chanel suit.
My first Communion
As you can see here, my first communion was “a-la-mode”. It is a tradition to wear your best and my father once again picked ruffle shirt & a skinny bow tie look.
My sister's first communion
If I remember correctly, the day of my sister’s first communion, I requested to wear my first communion ensemble as well…..oh, lord.

If you feel like dressing up a bit to attend a gallery opening, a concert or similar time and space, where the look is open and personal, no one will pay attention if you are wearing your team shirt, a tank top with a logo…  for sure, because artsy people actually rarely give a “shirt” about what team you are pulling for… trust me on this one!

A bow tie is NOT a thing from the past, is not reserved only for kids, for first communion, the bar mitzvah, your prom, or for doormen or attendants at a swanky hotel or restaurants. If you look back to the 50’s and early 60’s, the bow tie was a symbol of masculinity and elegance.

Designers are revisiting the day-to-day male attire and finding ways to get back to slim, fitted cuts – which some call it a reaction to the baggy 80’s and the deconstructed or streamlined 90’s, but who knows! What I see is that even in the largest department store magazines (at any price point), that little piece of fabric around your neck as a bow tie is back!

A sign of elegance
Just take a first step and get a bow tie….you will see how your look becomes more elegant, presentable, clean and sophisticated.

So, I am showing this first quick chic look to start, we will analyze how to wear one like a first-rate ‘James Bond’. The ladies and/or the gents will love it, and I assure you, that you can go home with some “digits” [phone numbers] if you are as charming as your bow tie and as dapper with your conversation as you are with your outfit.

The perfect dress codeA solid color that rescues the color within the bow tie and your shirt is a classic mix. Remember you are able to change solid colors depending on the occasion and the season. Today’s attire and dress codes are quite flexible, so be gentle and be curious about how to mix them and when to wear them.
The dapper look with bow tie
Bright sweaters and or vests are a striking look. We grew afraid of color for some reason in gentleman’s attire. But we don’t need to be fearful to try something new.
The jacket layered over a dapper look
My suggestion is to use a solid color jacket, as you already have patterns in the sublayers.
A matter of distinction is the type of fabric you pick. The more tactile, the more seductive, more elegant and lastly more attractive.
Details on a dapper look
Details are key! If you want more, there is always more and this particular look calls for it. The pocket square in simlar colors to the rest of the ensemble, the boutonniere hole filled with a silk ribbon cufflink, and the next layer of a coat with fur…richness through fabrics and prints will round-up your look.
A final dapper look, complete with bright accent colors, with a balance of prints and subdued tones.
The look
Dapper and stylish!

Here are some tips:

– If you are afraid of color, then black and white is the answer! (The mistress of it all was Ms. Coco Chanel and still today is the most elegant combination) Start by changing the scale of the other pieces you are wearing. Try to keep at least ONE element of your attire solid – hopefully a darker one for winter/fall (not much sun) and lighter ones for spring and summer (pastels or bright tones).

Black and White
If color is NOT for you, well there is always the basics…Black and White!
Black and White and patterms
If the entire ensamble has geometry as the main element that blends the look – and all elements are Black and White – be aware of NOT using the same scale on each pattern, or you may look like a walking table cloth!!
Black and White
Simple checkboard can actually be rich and exciting, if the patterns are mixed properly. See how the bow tie is the smallest pattern? In this photo, it frames his face and accents the neck and the torso.
Black and White
A solid Black jacket is the key – see in the earlier photos how his pants are grey? They offset the subdued tones of the shirt and makes the ensemble a bit more light and airy.
Black and White
Before heading out and if the weather requires, a scarf which is maybe the biggest element in terms of scale with the bigger pattern can add to the look.
Black and White
Patterns mix and compliment on every scale.

– Think of a color you like/prefer, and try to use those colors (hopefully they coordinate) Finding patterns of different hues and plaids or prints will help tremendously and once again, use the smaller pattern for the smaller piece of fabric in your combination (the bow tie) then use the larger one for your shirt. And if you are brave…hey! how about the pattern in your pants!

– The pattern on pattern look gives you the option to wear a plain bow tie, which can also play off of your jacket.  

 – Venturing into adding elements of style will help; perhaps a solid sweater on a bright tone, or a vest underneath. A simple scarf, a contrasting belt, bright shoes, or even oversized cufflinks. As dudes, we do not have too many options when it comes to “dressing-up” and “changing looks”, all thanks to the exuberance of the French courts of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, who went baloney with the headpieces, make-up, and ruffles.

 – Regarding mixing the colors of your patterns, it is very simple to do. Just keep the colors of the outfit up to three similar tones and manage the scale of the pattern to your build. Athletic guys can get away with bolder, larger patterns, while if you think you have some extra pounds, pick the smaller pattern for your shirt.

Get started with bow ties by purchasing the basics. Invest on an inexpensive, solid color to see if you like it – and if you think it fits your looks, then invest in a more complex style.

Start with black and basic patterns or colors, and go from there to more adventurous colors.

Lastly, I urge an investment in one-of-a-kind bow ties and if you take the chance, I would consider Robert Talbott stores.

The Talbott brand is a valuable find for a large selection of exclusive designs.

(The story goes as Mr. Robert Talbott’s wife,  Mrs, Audrey Talbott, used to sew unique bow ties for her husband, each done by hand, one by one, and little by little she gained customers and by 1955, the Talbott’s were traveling to find exquisite silks to create new designs and fill order after order of the custom designs.  Soon, the collection was recognized and grew in style and taste. His distinctive look became one I personally follow.)

Take a bow and develop your own style.

P.S. Not to worry, tutorials are on their way, with many ways to tie a bow around your neck, plus I will show some suggestions of places and price, I may even venture to be the star of my first homemade video production (if I get enough requests). In any event, I will have a series of posts here of how to “tie” any kind of tie, ascot, scarf, etc. – so, no worries, dudes!

DISCLAIMER:  All ideas, photography, styling and media on this blog photography, written or video  are exclusive for the use of  Oscar De las salas under www.whatwouldoscardo.com blog. Any use, copy, crop/paste action, or any similarity of this material is strictly prohibited unless authorized by http://www.whatwouldoscardo.com or by Author. All Copy Rights laws for internet or media use are applicable. If you want, need or require any of this material for any reason please contact my agent – Always in style – Oscar.)

11 replies to “TAKE A BOW…..

    1. Dear Julie-
      I believe that simple is better – If the ensamble has a deep navy color on jacket and loafers (great pick for an occasion like this), I would suggest a navie blue bowtie similar to this which will play the white on the shirt and the white pants!

      or . Now to make it a bit more “spiffy” and “preppy” If you are able to find a bowtie with white polka dots and navy background, better!

      Patterns are my favorite! and if you follow Mr. “Tim Gunn” from Project Runway show, you will see him most of the times (if not always, wearing pattern on pattern, which a post that is closed to be released) If you are able to find a smallerplaid pattern than the one on the shirt in the bowtie,….that’s the winner.
      Some examples of other graphics designs that may go with it;

      Congratulations to your son! that is a great step to any roman catholic!, and send me a picture of the result to share with other “Elegant Dudes”.

      Always in style….


      1. Hi Oscar, I have some great pictures of my son in his First communion outfit and the bow tie, but I do not know how to send it to you. Thank you for the advice, he looks handsome!

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