How to Tie a Bowtie and Keep Your Dignity

I recently faced a dilemma that I have to imagine affects at least 8% of men: I had to tie a bow tie. Last week I was a groomsman in a wedding, where I looked so fresh people called me the Dough Boy (and by people, I mean myself and no one else). The groomsmen wore bowties, which is not as easy as Justin Timberlake or Joseph Gordon-Levitt might make it look. If you are picturing me clipping one side of a piece of fabric to another, THINK AGAIN. This was the real deal. Did you know that a bowtie requires that you tie an actual bow? Well it does. The name couldn’t be more of a disclaimer.

Like any intelligent American, I went to the ultimate source of instructional information: YouTube. And like any normal American, I was quickly embarrassed by the Brits. As the first video loaded, a British man begins speaking, hypnotizing his audience with the classic “I’m British so whatever I say sounds like sweet poetry” trick. He slowly walked me through eight simple steps to be on my way to Bowtie Heaven, and my confidence was at an all-time high. I kept thinking that this British man must be smiling somewhere knowing a bowtie was being born properly.

That’s how he got me. He led me into his London flat with his calm assurance and there he stripped me of my dignity and any pride I previously had in my fashion sense. After eight steps of relative ease, he flew through Step 9 like I should be competing in the World Bowtie Championship by now.

The problem was that the first eight steps do not give you anything close to the resemblance of a bowtie. Without Step 9, you have the first step of a tied shoelace around your neck. Without Step 9, you are not worthy of a bowtie or any classy outfit associated with it. Without Step 9, this British man seemed to say, you are not a man. You are nothing.

Step 10: Pull the bowtie tight around your neck until you can’t breathe, because you are not worthy of life.

After many long and tense minutes (or hours, who’s counting?) with the British man, I turned to an American version of the video, where I tied a decent bowtie fairly quickly. But by that time, my spirit had already been broken. Because I do not want any man to face the same humiliation I did, I have created this instructional guide on how to tie your bowtie and keep at least some of your dignity intact.

Step 1: Do not start learning how to tie a bowtie the day you need to wear it.
Learn from my mistakes. You will need about six months of intensive training to be comfortable with your bowtie tying skills. Do not get cocky and skimp on training time. You’ll lose everything you love with that kind of attitude.

Step 2: Seek a support system.
At times, you will find yourself on the verge of giving up, not just on bowties, but on life itself. When a man doubts his sense of style, he is either middle-aged or lost in the world without a soul to save him. Surround yourself with those you love, so that when your bowtie looks like it when through the garbage disposal, you will have a loved one to call upon and comfort you while you weep bitterly.

Step 3: Speaking of bowties looking like they went through garbage disposals, do NOT tie your bowtie near a garbage disposal.

Step 4: Do not let people make you feel inadequate during your training time.
If someone insults your lack of bowtie tying know-how, throw the bowtie at him or her and say, “Your turn.” This is a made-for-movie moment, and it should embarrass them sufficiently.

Step 5: Do not attempt Step 4 with stylish men.
They may very well know how to tie a bowtie, and your dignity will be gone long before Step 9 of the video with the British guy.

Step 6: If you start any YouTube instructional video and hear a British accent, shut your computer off.
Do not attempt to pause the video, press the back button, or exit out of the Internet. You must be absolutely sure you are not humiliated, so shut the whole thing off. Leave your computer off for a few days to ensure that the voice will not return upon start-up, and then proceed to Step 7.

Step 7: To be completely sure the voice will not find its way through a haze of London fog to haunt you, purchase a new computer altogether.

Step 8: Do not be deceived by instructional videos with almost 2 million views.
All that means is that approximately 2 million men were humiliated (minus those who hail from England). Remember: Some funny cat videos have over 50 million views, but that doesn’t make it okay to support all of them.

Step 9: Congratulations.
You have made it to Step 9 and you have not been broken. Are you still a man? If you answered yes, then you are on your way to tying a bowtie and keeping your dignity.

Step 10: At this point, you will need to actually learn how to tie a bowtie.
I can’t help you with that part. All I can do is boost your confidence, because you will need it.

Step 11: Quit wasting time reading this.
You have a bowtie to conquer and a manhood to keep. Godspeed.

Do you have any tips on tying a bowtie? On keeping dignity in the process?

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