Black Silk Bow Ties - A Guide To Choosing Them
One would presume when talking on the subject of black silk bow ties that the discourse would be short. Black satin or grosgrain, a butterfly shape, what’s there to talk about? Right?
But on the subject of black silk bow ties after fifteen years of making bow ties in our own workroom I could wax lyrical and take up an entire dinner party on the subject without drawing breath for an hour. Most would yawn, occasionally you will meet the black tie enthusiast who will at least find a portion of it fascinating.
I wish to break it down for you into as many relevant bite size pieces so here goes.
Mainly you have a choice between black satin silk and grosgrain. These are the staples. However there is a myriad of choices between satin weights and grosgrain weights that will affect the look of the bow tie.
Our house satin is rich and thick creating a very dimpled bow tie. However you can choose between slouchy satins which give more drape and then the stricter more cardboard like satin silks that you will find in English made bow ties. We keep all on file but ask that you read our descriptions before choosing yours. In all instances we suggest using our house satin for its supple qualities but we do also offer very rich satin silks that are rare to find. One example is our 170 pic warp and weft using AAA grade silk thread. It’s still not my favourite but it is of the highest quality thread and weave. Satin is famous for the brightest and punchiest look for a bow tie and certainly ties better than all other weaves of silk.
Grosgrain simply means fat grain in French but it can also be commonly mistaken for faille weave which we often refer to as fine grosgrain on our website. It is known for its more muted tone as the grain refracts less light that satin silk. This weave is extremely different depending on weights and an additional type of grosgrain weave which is called an Ottoman, is also something you may choose. Always ask the question which is which if you are confused you should hold back. This is because if you are having a dinner suit made with a grosgrain it’s always important to finish the suit first so you can see the grosgrain before you choose your bow tie. We encourage you to send pictures to us first or else if you are in the area, drop in and show us in person.
The Old World choice for your silk bow tie. This weave was originally developed for the military but its the choice of the discerning few for it’s muted weave. I highly encourage our customers to always consider it as an alternative to a satin silk bow tie as it has a lovely English sensibility to it.
When it comes to shapes we could be all day on this subject and there is much history on each shape as well as examples of famous people who have worn that shape but let me try to break it down for you.
This is the most common shape we sell and it is one we invented in 2010. It’s based on a Charvet batwing style of bow tie which has been made slightly taller and then we run a scoop on the underside in the manner of a traditional butterfly. This pattern allows for drape on the underside which is the preferred look of nearly all our customers. It is a little more difficult to tie but well worth the attention required.
A classic pointed shape on either side which also requires some attention in tying. It’s a wonderful bow tie for a peaked lapel dinner suit. It also works well for smaller and more pointed faces.
There are many cuts in batwing bow ties. Simply put the batwing means the bow tie has a straight edge on top and bottom. The most famous makers of batwing bow ties is Charvet of Paris, the people that inspired me to start making bow ties. Ours is a little bigger in the instance of our Remy shape, a little smaller in the case of our Juan and slim batwing shapes. You will find all these bow ties under our Black Tie Essentials page.
Jumbo Modified Butterfly
Often considered the Tom Ford of our bow tie range, this shape is for the bigger baller, the man who also wants a great deal of presence in their bow tie with an accentuated drape.
Mini Jumbo Shape Bow Tie
This is a shrinking of the Jumbo drape for a strong drape presence in the bow tie but for a smaller face.
Really needs no instruction. A Savile Row style of bow tie, more English in it’s traditional appeal to menswear.
This covers us for all our main shapes we offer. All other shapes we offer are experiments that have worked out well for us in terms of using style references over time to create unique shapes such as our spade head bow tie or our concave winged bow ties, in some instances we even create them to resemble butterflies or roses. It is an exciting part of our work which is usually done for bespoke customers seeking unique bow ties.
We don’t offer much information on linings because they can have a drastic impact on the bow tie and can offer either a slouchy and relaxed look, a plush bun like appearance or else a strict and structured stiffer bow tie. We keep over 20 linings on hand and encourage you to only enquire on a change in lining if you seek bespoke work. At all other times we choose the lining depending on the weight of silk and the desired look.
This is an all encompassing subject matter which in itself could take up a good deal of your time. To shorten that spiel, let me break it down for you simply.
Velvet is charming, soft, plush and warm. I encourage it to be used sparingly, its most fitting is for a home event with velvet slippers.
Satin silk often can be woven with metallic lurex or raised polymer fibres to add texture and lustre. It should be used where you are not wearing traditional black tie, eg: cream dinner jackets and jacquard woven fabrics on dinner jackets.
TEXTURES, NEATS AND CHANGES IN COLOUR
This is where you have a dinner jacket that is not a traditional tuxedo / dinner jacket which requires you to choose something a little more elaborate or which compliments the jacket chosen. Be cautious, and err on the side of conservatism and revert back to classic black bow ties if you are unsure of your choice. For example, if you had a gold velvet smoking jacket and were looking to pair it with a gold bow tie and can’t find the right kind of gold or design in the fabric, revert back to a black satin silk bow tie.