My first bow tie

I was 15 years old when I acquired my first grown up jacket.  I had previously worn the school blazer or hand-me-down jackets from older relatives.  Now I could choose one of my own.  I'd seen it in the shop window, a sports coat in a hound's tooth black and white check.  In retrospect it might have been somewhat garish, but I didn't think so at the time. 

In the window it was shown on the mannequin with a green and black bow tie.  Almost as an afterthought as the purchase of the jacket was completed, I told them I'd take the bow tie as well.  It was a clip-on tie, and when I tried it on at home with the jacket, it was the beginning of a lifetime love affair.  The bow tie seemed so natural for my face that I wore it regularly for smart occasions.

Soon afterwards I graduated to pre-tied bows that fastened at the back of the neck, but then came the day when I moved on to real bow ties that have to be properly tied with a real knot.  The conventional method can seem rather like tying a shoelace, in that everything has to come right at once with a final flourish.  Furthermore, I soon discovered that the knot was not always smart or symmetrical.  By trial and error I devised my own knot, a different way of tying a bow tie by building it up in layers, starting at the back.  My knot is more logical, easier to teach, and its chief advantage is that it is capable of infinite adjustment so that however sloppily it might be first tied, it can be made perfectly symmetrical. 

While I was secretary of Mensa, the high IQ society, its magazine editor challenged me to write up my knot in 120 words for the magazine.  It was partly a joke, because you don't describe a knot in words, but with diagrams.  I gave it a brave effort, and managed it in 150 words.  Many times people have come up to me and said, "We've never met, but you taught me how to tie a bow tie."


More recently I recorded a youtube video of me teaching the knot in just 2 minutes.  Most of those looking at it will be trying on a black tie for a formal event, but who knows, some others might fall in love with bow ties, as I did all those years ago.