Published on April 13, 2018


In Praise of Bow-Ties

What do Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, and Thomas Edison have in common? They were all proud wearers of bowties. And, frankly, so am I.

I like bow-ties. It was an interesting challenge to learn to tie them, and it takes an extra few minutes to get it right in the morning. They are fun to choose and fun to wear. I’m less likely to spill my soup on them. On a practical level, they may be a better choice than a long tie in patient settings since they are out of the way.

I am not expecting that a bow-tie will make me inventive like Edison or a statesman like Lincoln or funny like Groucho. But I have noticed that when I wear a bow-tie, people who may not say something to me when I am wearing a long tie will ask me about the bow-tie or make a comment. Often the questions are about how you tie them. Sometimes people comment on the color or design. Most often people just smile and give me a thumbs-up or say something like, “That looks sharp.”

I suppose there may be hidden psychological messages in why some people wear bow-ties and why other people don’t. Why are they still so much a part of formal wear, for instance? Why do artists and professors and newscasters favor the distinctive style of a bow-tie? When did long ties overtake them in popularity and why?

For me it’s simple, really. Like I said, they’re fun to wear. I like the way they prompt interaction with people to whom I might otherwise not get the chance to talk. They seem optimistic and positive in a world that is needful of both of those qualities.

When I put on a bow-tie in the morning, I know that there will be new opportunities for interaction with the people around me. Smiles and laughter will be created. Stories will be exchanged, and people I don’t know might become acquaintances and even friends. A little more appreciation for the wonderful, colorful, and diverse world we share will brighten the outlook and put a little more joy into the forecast.

I doubt bow-ties will save the world. But they might enrich a moment with fun.

And that’s good enough for me.

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