Video: 'Gentlemanly' neckwear makes a comeback with the bow tie

Video: 'Gentlemanly' neckwear makes a comeback with the bow tie

April 23rd, 2012 by Karen Nazor Hill in Life Entertainment

Robby Tyson, Justin Smith and Matt Wilson, from left, wear bow ties from Wilson & Bow on Ringgold Road.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.


Justin Smith offers the following instructions for tying a bow tie:

  1. Even up your bow tie where both ends are hanging even.
  2. Holding the right side taut, overlap with the left, bringing it under to make a knot.
  3. Take the top strap and place it on your left shoulder while taking the bottom and forming the bow at your collar.
  4. Make sure to have your pointer finger in front with your thumb in back holding the bow together.
  5. Take the top strap off your shoulder, bringing over the front of the bow and looping back under through the knot.
  6. Pull the top strap tight to make sure the knot is tight and neat.
  7. Once you have a comfortable tightness, pull the top strap behind the bow, going through the hole created by the thumb hold.
  8. Even it up, and the process is complete.

What does a bow tie say about the man who wears it?

That he's fun-loving, intelligent and a true gentleman, especially in the South, contend Matthew Wilson and Robby Tyson, owners of Chattanooga-based Wilson & Bow Fine Neckwear.

In a recent interview, they said this dressy accessory readily identifies its wearer.

"It takes a special person to wear a bow tie," Wilson said. "They tend to be more outgoing, traditional yet rugged. And they typically are self-confident and have an outgoing personality."

Wilson and Tyson said sales of their company's bow ties have been steadily climbing in the last couple of years.

Though the men can't pinpoint why sales have been on the rise, they did point out area politicians who routinely sport the fashion, namely Scottie Mayfield, who's running for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, and state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

Bow ties are no longer limited to grandpas, funerals or stuffy black-tie events, according to a recent report on "This seemingly fuddy-duddy accessory has made a comeback of late and is great for those bold dressers who like to make a fashion statement."

Bow ties are so versatile that you can wear them formally, casually or in a funky cool streetwear look, the website noted. "Add a bit of fun to any outfit by teaming it up with a bow tie in a contrasting color or print."

Justin Smith, 29, trust specialist at Cumberland Trust in Chattanooga, said he is a big fan of bow ties, with more than 40 in his collection.

"I wore them as a child but didn't start wearing them again until I started working at First Tennessee as a teller," he said. "Until then, I wore regular ties, but I was always spilling stuff on them. Then, one day, a customer came in wearing a bow tie. I liked the way it looked. I bought one and taught myself how to tie it in two hours. From then on, I wear bow ties most every day."

Smith said his collection ranges from preppy to fun designs featuring alligators, flamingoes, lambs and clouds. His newest bow tie, sold by Wilson & Bow, bears the Girls Preparatory School emblem.

"I am engaged to Taylor Tucker, daughter of Randy Tucker, headmaster at GPS," Smith said. "I thought it would be appropriate and fun to wear it and that it would make Taylor (a GPS graduate) happy."

Tyson admitted to being a rookie at wearing bow ties.

"I didn't start wearing them until recently, but I recognize the importance of a bow tie," he said. "Before, I only wore them with tuxedoes to black-tie events, but now I'm wearing them to work. It's a fun way to express yourself. And, bow ties are associated with the South. More Southern men wear them than men up North."

Wilson said his company recently began manufacturing custom bow ties for businesses, organizations, schools, colleges and other groups.

"It's a good fundraiser," he said, noting that one of his first clients for custom-made ties was the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. "We're now involved in mass mailings to alumni directors, sports clubs, etc., to show them the quality of our ties."

Wilson, 35, said he was born to sell bow ties.

"I started wearing them when I was 8 years old. I wore them, and suspenders, nearly every day. I wore them to school. I also played the accordion, and I thought that bow ties, suspenders and the accordion went together. I liked the look."

Wilson & Bow neckwear can be found in local businesses including Twiggs, 810 Scenic Highway on Lookout Mountain, and at Merchants on Main, 607 E. Main St.