The bow tie evolved from the necktie and first became known around the beginning of the 19th century. By and around 1880, the bow tie had made its way into many wardrobes.
Over the years, the shape, look and style of bow ties went through many transformations. This both while wearing the bow tie every day but also on the catwalk and at events.
To understand the history of the bow tie, it is important to start with its precursor: the necktie. Indeed, since the 17th century, neckties were worn mainstream, this started with the French elite who wore the necktie after copying it from French soldiers who had seen the necktie on Croatian soldiers in the 30-year war (1618-1648).
It was not until 1886 that the bow tie was introduced by Pierre Lorillard as part of the Tuxedo. At the time, Mr. Lorillard organised a ball at the Tuxedo Club (near New York) and introduced the Tuxedo as a new formal dress style, this became an instant hit and was later known as the black-tie dress code.
Earlier, therefore, the bow tie was mainly intended as a formal accessory. However, with the development of new shapes, patterns and the use of other materials, the bow tie became increasingly suitable for other looks as well. Thus, fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Manolo Blahnik were stylish wearers, while entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire and Stromae also wore bow ties as did scientists (e.g. Albert Einstein), politicians (Winston Churchill, Elio Di Rupo) and film characters (e.g. James Bond).
Over the years, women also began to increasingly wear the bow tie as an accessory with a breakthrough in the 1920s and 1930s when actresses began to dress more masculine with, for example, suits, hats and bow ties. Film stars Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn played a major role in this.
In short, over the years, the bow tie has transformed from a purely formal accessory to one that can be worn daily by men and women, young and old for a unique look. This is also reflected in fashion blogs around the world that show daily how bow ties belong with a stylish outfit!