How to tie a bow tie

A man tightening a red bow tie on his shirt
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Getting ready for Valentine’s Day? Knowing how to tie a bow tie isn’t as hard as you’d think. The fiddling and fussing required to tie one of these bad boys has led to the best of us losing our tempers and resorting to a reliable clip-on. Even if we somehow manage to tie it on, it never seems to look as good as we want — flopping to one side or drooping away from the neck. 

That doesn’t have to be the case though. Once you know how to tie a bow tie the right way, you never need to rely on your mom or partner tying it for you again. Here, we will take you through what to do step-by-step, so you can dress up with confidence and look good for your date tonight. This is how to tie a bow tie quickly and easily.

How to tie a bow tie 

How to tie a bowtie - pull right side slightly longer than left

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1. The first step is to pull the right-side of the bow tie slightly longer than the left. You’re looking for a length difference of about 2-3 inches.  

How to tie a bowtie - cross longer end over shorter end

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2. Now you want to take the longer end and cross it over the shorter end, then bring it under and over the top through the neck loop. It’s just like tying a basic knot at this point.  

How to tie a bowtie - fold shorter half and hold horizontally

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3. Next, fold the shorter length right and then left in a single zig-zag pattern, leaving the end to create the bow shape and hold it horizontally

How to tie a bowtie - bring longer end over the center of the shorter end

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4. Bring the longer end over the top and center of your premature bow tie shape. It should look like a large letter ‘T’ at this stage. 

5. You’re now going to want to do the same for the longer end as you did for the shorter length in step three. Create a zig-zag by folding it towards your chest and keep hold of it by the fold.  

How to tie a bowtie - tuck longer end through loop behind shorter end

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6. Now, still holding it by the fold, tuck your longer end through the loop behind the shorter end. 

How to tie a bowtie - adjust as necessary

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7. Pull by both sides of the bow to tighten and adjust if necessary.  

That’s all there is to it, your bow tie should be ready for a night on the town. Don’t worry if it’s a tiny bit asymmetrical — that’s what separates you from the clip-ons!  

Bow tie tips 

  • Watch the size — Your bow tie should be roughly the same width as your face for guidance. 
  • Make sure it’s tight, but comfortable — You don’t want the dreaded gap between your bow and neck.
  • Practice makes perfect — If you’ve got a big night on the cards, don’t leave it to the last minute to learn how to tie a bow tie. Give yourself time to perfect this method.
  • Do not machine wash your bow tie — If your bow tie needs freshening up, take it to the dry cleaners or wash by hand if the care label allows. Machine washing can damage and fade a bow tie.   
Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.