Zen and the art of bow tie tying
In a man's life, certain challenges arise from time to time for which no previous experience can prepare him. If you read this node, chances are you know exactly what I am referring to. You have found and worked your way through several idiot's guides to bow tie tying on the web and, just like many valiant men before you, you have failed miserably just around the "push the second loop through the knot"-step.
Unfortunately, there is no time to find yourself an experienced bow tie aficionado (by God, do they even exist in this day and age?) and, even if you could, your pride would not permit you to do such a thing. Pride is a silly thing, but do not despair! For here is the complete Just-in-time Zen guide to bow tie tying.
- Confidence First of all, you can tie a bow tie, even if you have never done so before. Confide in this before you continue. Relax..
- Focus When tying a bow tie, tackle one problem at a time. If your tie has a clip with which you can open it and put it on after tying it (most of them do these days), tie the tie around something else first. Adjust it to fit your neck and put it on later. Tie it around your leg for instance. For convenience, I will refer to your neck from now on.
- Perspective Before you touch your tie, realise that tying a bow tie is exactly the same as tying your shoelaces. Really. It is not sort of the same, it is exactly the same. To get an idea, tie your shoelaces before you begin. Don't do it automatically, like you do everyday, but try to distinguish each step. Whenever you have trouble understanding a step try to visualise the isomorphic step in shoelace tying. By far the easiest way of learning bow tie tying is by taking a long shoelace first and tying that around your neck. This way, you know the drill before you start to use the unusually shaped bow tie.
- Balance The first course of action is to put the tie round your neck with the left side hanging about an inch below the right side. before you tie a proper bow tie you will have to do it a couple of times anyway, so don't bother about getting the length right the first time. You won't succeed the first time. Accept that.
- Connect Next, put the left end over the right end. Pull the end through the hole (that is, the 'hole' your neck is sticking out of) from the bottom upward and to your left. This step is the same as tying the first flat knot in your shoelaces. The former left end of the tie is now on the left side of your head. Hold it that way.
- Circle Now, make the first loop of the bow with the former 'short end on the right' that is still hanging loose in front of you. Make the loop in such a way that it is pointing to your left side. Understand that the middle of the diamond-shaped end of the tie is going to be where the fold is to form your loop. Again, this corresponds exactly to making the first loop of your shoelaces. Drop the former left side, which you were holding up left of your head, over the middle of the bow, where the knot is going to be.
- Visualise Now comes the most difficult part. This is where most HOWTO's have you going "Huh??". Actually, the procedure isn't that hard. It is just tricky to describe. Think about your shoelaces again. What do you do after you've tied the first loop? You wrap your lace around it, loop it and push it through the knot from the left side to form the right bow. Visualise that process. Now, back to the tie. You have one loop tied. The end that will form the other loop is dangling in front of the partially tied knot. Form the right loop from this end. To put the loop in place, it needs to be pushed "through" the knot somehow, starting at he left side behind the other loop, so that it will end up on the right side. The ends coming out of the loops should be behind the opposing loop. How, on earth, do you push a loop through a knot? Well, you tell me. You do it every day tying your shoelaces! There are no set rules on where exactly the second loop should go through the knot, as long as it works for you. Again, look at the way you tie your shoelaces for the answer. Try to tie it round something else than your neck first.
- Personality Now that your tie is done, you can put it on and adjust it. It need not be perfect. On the contrary, it is said that a bow tie must be tied with a certain amount of imperfection. This gives it personality.