Monday, 1 April 2013

Retired detective starts club for fans of the bow tie

Retired detective starts club for fans of the bow tie

I was in two minds about posting this story when I first read it on a local news site a few months ago, partly because like so much regional journalism it was rather badly written (so people didn't wear bow ties before the 1960s, then, for example?!) and partly because it propagates the age-old cliché of painting anything or anyone who chooses to deviate even slightly from "society's norms" as odd and "eccentric".

Dr Who's Matt Smith gets Bow Tie Society invitation

But then just today the B.B.C. covered the same story (hopefully they don't think it's an April Fools' joke!) tying it in (no pun intended!), of course, with the latest Doctor Who who has - very welcomely, I might add - been acting as something of a "poster boy" for the resurgence of the bow tie in the public's consciousness (beyond its continued prevalence at formal dinner engagements) since his first appearance in 2010.  Bow ties are indeed very cool!  (Although I must point out that while in early outings of the current Doctor it appeared that he was utilising a proper self-tie bow, in later episodes it seemed quite evident that pre-tied versions were being used (!) - and if I'm not much mistaken most recently... one of a clip-on variety!  Still at least he is popularising them in one form or another, as well as braces - although there again ideally they would also be button-on rather than clips - plus to a lesser extent the noble fez.  Let's not forget that he has done wonders for the Harris Tweed market too.)

Anything that helps the cause of the bow tie is aces in my book, however, and I'm delighted to see a local group springing up to celebrate this often-overlooked item of neckwear.  Maybe when my collection numbers more than one or two I may  just look in to joining myself!

By far and away one of the best sources on the interweb for quality (i.e. self-tied, sensibly patterned, silk/cotton) bow ties at reasonable prices, Tom Sawyer Waistcoats will be my first port of call for when I can start filling out my bow tie drawer.  Two examples that have caught my eye include:

Navy with multicoloured squares self-tie silk bow tie,
£14.99 [+£4.25 p&p] @ Tom Sawyer Waistcoats

Blue paisley self-tie cotton bow tie,
£19.99 [+£4.25 UK p&p] @ Tom Sawyer Waistcoats

Elsewhere Charles Tyrwhitt do a particularly jolly gingham number, proving that that pattern is not just for the ladies(!):

Royal and white cotton gingham check bow tie,
£24.95 (reduced from £50) [+ £4.95 UK p&p] @ Charles Tyrwhitt

The articles rightly mention other famous bow tie wearers past and present, the latter of whom it is hoped will grace this new club with their membership.  To finish off this post, here are some more famous people both real and fictional who have sported bow ties:

Probably the most famous [fictional] bow tie-wearing detective, Hercule Poirot needs no introduction here!

While one half of Agatha Christie's sleuthing duo Tommy & Tuppence, Tommy Beresford is often seen (in the 1980s ITV series, at any rate) sporting a bow tie.

In that other master of mystery and suspense Alfred Hitchcock's seminal work The Lady Vanishes, male characters also wear that particular style of neckwear - often while fighting off evil foreign types.  Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) and Charters (Basil Radford) (the latter of whom, along with Caldicott - Naunton Wayne in the 1938 film - were criminally left out of the B.B.C.'s recent adaptation) in particular:

Noted British political broadcaster and commentator Robin Day was well known as much for his bow tie as for his strong interviewing style during the thirty-odd years that he was a television journalist from the 1950s to the 1980s:

Source: via Livia on Pinterest

Finally, British racing driver Mike Hawthorn (below right) famously wore a bow tie even while racing in Grands Prix and at Le Mans in the 1950s earning him the nickname "Le Papillion" in the French press.  Flamboyant and fun-loving, he won the Formula One Championship in 1958 but was tragically killed less than a year later in a traffic accident.

These then are just some of the many champions of the bow tie who are known to me and I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about them.  Do you like to see a chap wearing this other type of necktie and who are your favourite bow tie wearers?


  1. A couple of weeks ago I (unsuccessfully) tried to get into the members' preview of the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A (the queue was horrendous!). Instead, I went up to the members' lounge for a drink... and saw the most awesome old chap in a suit and super colourful bow tie. I so much wanted to tell him that I loved his bow tie but I was too shy. I hoped he was a massive Bowie fan and his bow tie was a nod to Bowie's zany style...

  2. I enjoyed this tale, thank you sir. I am quite partial to a bow tie, I must say. I feel rather lucky to possess three although I can see my collection escalating somewhat!

    I hadn't realised until recently that there are two types of bow tie - the butterfly which is straight edged and the bat wing that is pointed. Very nice indeed!

  3. Very dashing. I have to say that I prefer the floppy sort of affair as worn by Rennie MacKintosh, but then I am a bit of a ponce!

  4. I just got unnecessarily flustered over that photo of Michael Redgrave in The Lady Vanishes...

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