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Bowties Are Cool

The Doctor: Oi. Eyes on the tie. Look at me. I wear it and I don't care. Trust me?
Kazran: ... Yes.
The Doctor: That's why it's cool.
Doctor Who, "A Christmas Carol"

Certain items of clothing, in the real world, look ridiculous. Bow ties are one of these items. Out of fashion for about 40 years now, they look fussy, old-fashioned and slightly dorky to most people.

But not for these guys. For these guys, Bowties Are Cool. And they will never be seen without one, usually to the exasperation of the people around them; though they think they look like hot stuff, they'll appear to everyone else as... well, fussy, old fashioned, and/or slightly dorky. A certain type of character might be able to pull it off, looking incredibly Badass in the process, or at least managing to look rather Adorkable. Or both!

If, as is usually the case, the wearer is a Gentleman of a Certain Age, it indicates that he's stuck in the past — a more subtle form of Outdated Outfit. If the wearer is a younger man, it indicates that he really doesn't have a clue.

As it's usually a male item of clothing, a woman wearing a bow tie is often depicted as either unorthodox or wearing it as part of some skimpier ensemble designed to tease (such as the Playboy Bunny costume). This latter approach may also be called on by some men (such as the Chippendales). The alternative in porn in the appropriate setting is to have a beautiful woman wear a bow tie and nothing else (a variation on Diamonds in the Buff).

Bowties also have a connotation with homosexuality, as they are often worn by gay men who want to look stylish and elegant.

And one should never forget that no matter what, there's one particularly cool suit that always has a bow tie... a Tuxedo.

See also Real Men Wear Pink, Awesome Anachronistic Apparel. The wearing of a bow tie is notable enough for The Other Wiki to have its own list on the subject.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    General 

    Advertising 
  • Orville Redenbacher, the late gourmet-popcorn magnate and pitchman, was well known for donning one of these.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The greatest bow-tie aficionado from the manga pages is clearly Detective Conan's Kudo Shinichi in his Edogawa Conan form, who almost always wears a seriously snappy bow-tie — he can't even solve most of his mysteries without a magic voice-changer inside it. (The efficacy and versatility of this device on short notice occasionally smacks of Applied Phlebotinum.)
  • Ranma from Ranma ˝ would occasionally wear a rather nice pastel orange shirt combined with a little red bow-tie.
  • In the School Festival episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Sho wears a huge pink bow-tie as he emcees the duel between Judai and the Dark Magician Girl.
  • Ladd Russo and all of his white-suited cohorts (sans his fiancée, who's wearing a tasty dress) in Baccano! look positively menacing in their white tuxes and white bow-ties. Which all end covered in blood. Only Ladd's isn't covered in his own. This is more of a subversion, really. The series takes place in the 30s, when bow-ties really were in.
  • Hanson and Sanson from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water wear bow-tie as part of their uniforms. Maybe justified for the time period.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara!! has one as part of the bartender uniform he constantly wears. Occasionally he wears it unclipped just to add to the badassery.
  • Transformers Super God Masterforce: Minerva has one as part of her default outfit.
  • Nanoha of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has one as part of her Magical Girl outfit.
  • Sailor Moon: Tuxedo Mask's snazzy tailcoat would not be complete without a nice white bow-tie.
  • [C] - The Money and Soul of Possibility: Masakaki (as well as his crayon box brothers) sports a rather large one, which only enhances his eccentric suit.

    Comic Strips 
  • Batman
    • Bruce Wayne manages a very nice-looking one.
    • As do most iterations of Alfred.
    • His arch-enemies, The Joker and the Penguin, tend to wear them as well as part of their old-fashion dress suits.
  • Zatanna wears one, in keeping with her deliberately magician-like costume: a Ms. Fanservice variant of the classic tuxedo, complete with top hat but sans pants.
  • Superman
    • Jimmy Olsen frequently has one.
    • Clark Kent would also wear bow-ties on occasion, and actually prefers them to regular neckties because they don't flap in his face while flying, but every time he wears one people constantly mock him about it.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Filemón, all the time.
  • Averted by Cyclops of the X-Men, who used to wear truly hideous bow-ties when he was in civvies. Happily, he seems to have given up on them.
  • The Flash: Barry Allen. Not so much since he's come Back from the Dead, but he now has a bow-tie icon when IM'ing Iris.
  • Tony from the Johnny Turbo magazine ads.
  • Richie Rich constantly wears a bow-tie.
  • Johnny Thunder of the Justice Society of America. One comic even notes that his fashion sense went into a permanent stall sometime in the 1950s.
  • Rasmus Klump: Pingu wears a white one, probably in reference to his tuxedo like penguin body.
  • ''Jommeke: Choco the chimpansee wears a white bowtie.
  • Nero: Nero sports a red bowtie.
  • In What's New? with Phil and Dixie, Dixie often wore an oversized bow tie in the early strips.
  • Jon Arbuckle from Garfield constantly wears giant polka-dotted bow-ties on his dates, averting this trope by not looking cool. At all.
  • One FoxTrot strip has Jason wearing a bow-tie to school due to believing people with bow-ties look smarter. He also wore an Albert Einstein mask until the nose was dented. It should be noted that Jason was already making A+++ and higher grades. He was just trying to pad his grade even more with this trope.
  • Opus the Penguin is almost never seen without his bow-tie. (He wore a necktie while running for Vice President, but didn't like it, and after his running mate lost, quickly bought a new bow-tie.)
  • Dagwood regularly wears a bow-tie to the office in Blondie.

    Fanfiction 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who
    • The Eleventh Doctor: The Trope Namer! Played with, slightly, in that he's the only one around who actually thinks this. This is a Running Gag. According to Doctor Who Confidential, it was Matt Smith himself who chose to wear the bow-tie as part of his official Doctor outfit. Because he knew they were cool.
      • He explained it in one of the Christmas specials.
        Doctor: Oi! Eyes on the tie. Look at me. I wear it and I don't care. Trust me?
        Kazran: Yes.
        Doctor: That's why it's cool.
    • The bow-tie is iconic enough for this Doctor that he lets it fall to the floor just before regenerating.
    • It even runs in the family: Amy's newborn daughter, Melody, apparently questions the Doctor about his fashion sense while they're conversing.
    • Apparently, in the UK at least there has actually been an increase in sales of bow-ties since Matt Smith took the role.
    • In The Eleventh Hour, Amy Pond takes The Doctor's tie (from the David Tennant years) and slams it in the door of a car to prevent him from going anywhere while she tries to get answers from him. Not only are they cool, but practical.
    • In The Wedding of River Song, The Doctor uses his bow tie in a marriage ceremony to River Song in an alternate universe.
    • The Second Doctor (from whom Eleven took a few dress cues) also frequently wears a bow-tie. The Third Doctor is also known to rock a bow-tie every so often, although his are usually a bit more elegant and flashy than the other two mentioned Doctors'. The series is enough of a Long Runner that bow ties hadn't gone out of fashion at the time these were produced, though, so they may not count.
      • The Third Doctor's costume, at least, was outdated; although he looks like a hippy at times, the costumes were actually provided by Jon Pertwee himself, who had discovered a load of Edwardian clothes in his grandfather's attic.
    • There is also Bill Nighy's character, Dr. Black, in "Vincent and the Doctor", who wears an even larger bow-tie than the Doctor. The difference being that Dr. Black is an art historian and it's to be expected that he would look a bit old-fashioned. The Doctor makes this another excuse to use the Trope Namer in an attempt to convince Amy. She's unimpressed.
    • Interestingly, the 12th Doctor seems to agree with everyone else now that bow ties are most definitely not cool.
  • On Leverage this was mentioned directly by Hardison during "The Radio Job", presumably as a Shout-Out to Doctor Who as he (not to mention the producers of the show) is a confirmed fan.
  • In NCIS, Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the service's medical examiner, ancillary Cool Uncle of the main group, English gentlemannote  and perpetual font of trivia tangential to the case at hand, always wears a bow-tie to the morgue.
    • During a short fling a woman convinced him to wear a more modern tie, but he soon switched back.
    • A bow tie is just practical for a medical examiner. A regular tie is likely to get dipped in something nasty.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy. Quite a few scientists in Real Life also wear bow-ties because they can't fall into beakers or chemical spills like regular neckties can. No doubt Bill was just going for the Adorkable look, though.
  • Dr Bashir and Garak in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Bond spoof episode "Our Man Bashir".
  • Brother Mouzone from The Wire. It's hinted that he is or was associated with the Nation of Islam.
  • On The Andy Griffith Show, a bow-tie was part of Barney Fife's standard out-of-uniform look. Howard Sprague was partial to them, too.
  • Tim Wonnacott of Bargain Hunt.
  • Pee-Wee's Playhouse: Pee-Wee Herman.
  • Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass, especially during the third and fourth seasons, loves bow ties. One reviewer suggested this was so Blair could straighten them, allowing the two to have close and intimate moments.
  • Glee's Kurt Hummel and Artie Abrams both wear bow-ties fairly frequently — though Kurt more frequently than Artie. Artie's bow-ties are typically dorky. However, given Kurt's overall fashion sense and the fact that his bow-ties have been known to feature such items as tiny plastic steampunky clockfaces, he's proof of the fact that bow-ties genuinely can be cool, if they're the right bow-ties. In Season 3, Blaine Anderson wears those constantly, along with ''polo shirts that are too small for even him, bright-colored pants, and a dorky haircut. He might be trying to look childish.
  • Quiz show Fifteen to One had contestant Michael Penrice, who appeared in several series and usually reached the Grand Final, in which he always wore a bow-tie.
  • Alton Brown cited this trope by name as a reason he selected a contestant for his team on Next Food Network Star.
  • Gilmore Girls has Richard Gilmore. It is a running gag in the show that Mr. Gilmore is always wearing bow ties. Lorelei even wraps her father's gift in a bow tie (the story is much longer, featuring more bow tie jokes). Since he is older, it encompasses the Gentleman of a Certain Age trope as well.
  • In a Saturday Night Live Presidential Debate sketch then performer Al Franken played then Senator Paul Simon. All the moderator would ask Senator Simon about was his bow tie.
  • Cuthbert Sinclair, a late-surviving Man of Letters on Supernatural, is quite stylish in hiw bow tie. Naturally, he's quite evil too.

    Music 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • David Otunga tends to wear a bow tie when not in the ring. (He's John Laurinaitis's legal advisor, and in Real Life is actually a Harvard graduate.)
  • "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase always looked snappy in one. His son Ted DiBiase, Jr. opts for midcentury casual instead.
  • Bob Backlund regularly wore one after his 1993 heel turn and descent into insanity.
  • Late 1980s/early '90s ring announcer Mike McGuirk was often seen in a white tuxedo with a bow-tie. Maybe this was to emphasize that she (yes, despite the name, McGuirk was a woman) was a female performing a traditionally male job.
  • Bow ties were part of the standard uniform for a WCW referee.
  • In Rhett Titus's case, it is more like bow ties are sexy. He wore no shirt with a bow tie around his neck.

    Sports 
  • Enforced in professional snooker: the dress code explicitly mandates vest, shirt and bow tie for all players, even women. (Only medical reasons, such as a thyroid condition, can exempt you.) Players don't particularly like the bow tie; taking it off when the opponent has nominally won the deciding frame signals "I'm not coming back to the table anymore."
  • National Hockey League center Dave Bolland, which has led to rampant specualtion of him having Gallifreyan origins. See his listing on the linked page for more on that.
  • 1958 World Driver's Champion Mike Hawthorne always wore a bow tie with his driving suit.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: Carl Clover wears a giant Zipper Pull as one.
  • British boxer Dudley wears one in all his Street Fighter appearances.
  • Emizel in Disgaea 4 wears a red one.
  • Jeff from EarthBound.
  • Hurdy from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 wears a blue bow, which also matches with the tiny blue bows on his shoes.
  • Lex the bookworm from Video Game/Bookworm wears a very small, bright red one.
  • Mario wears one in Punch-Out!! !!
  • Nowi in Fire Emblem Awakening provides a rare female example, wearing a pink one.
  • Dr. Gilbert Buford from Legend of the Crystal Skull wears a red bow-tie. Justified, as he's both a medical doctor and rather elderly, from a city where old-fashioned styles tend to be respected rather than sneered at.
  • The Spy and The Medic in Team Fortress 2 have the "Doctor Whoa", a randomly droppable, user-submitted, team-colored bow-tie that's a direct Shout-Out to Doctor Who's Eleventh Doctor. It was even released on one of the yearly anniversaries of the creation of Doctor Who.
  • There are a few different colored bow-ties for your monsters to wear in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Only some species like wyverns and behemoths actually wear them on their necks, though.
  • In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, when Liara's holographic assistant "Glyph" decides to change into a more festive outfit for Shepard's house party, he returns sporting a very large holographic bow-tie.

    Visual Novels 
  • The female protagonist of Fate/EXTRA wears a blue one as part of her school uniform.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Chick started out wearing one. She doesn't sport one nowadays.
  • While he doesn't wear one, Linkara uses he line while simultaneously making fun of a Youngblood character's outfit.
  • Sad Panda spends most of To Boldly Flee cosplaying as the trope namer, including rocking a bow tie.
  • Jane and Lizzie in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, wear a red bow tie while impersonating Darcy. Whether or not he actually wears one is still a mystery.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Many men in the printing industry wear bow-ties, as you do not want to get your tie caught in a printing press.
  • They're becoming more popular for doctors, as regular ties are getting a reputation as unhygienic. (You wear them right down your front, and most need to be professionally dry-cleaned and thus seldom get washed....) You never have to untangle your stethoscope from a bow tie, either.
  • Many male librarians (especially those in the public library system) have taken to wearing bow-ties because they won't get accidentally shut in drawers, tangled in lanyard-style name tags or caught on equipment. Librarians who work with children also like them because of their endearingly whimsical look and are more hygienic for both them and the kids (and smaller children can't grab them).
  • Referees for sports like boxing usually wear bow-ties.
  • Dwyane Wade.
  • Howard Phillips was famous for his bow-tie during his tenure as president of the Nintendo Fun Club. It even figured into some of the Howard & Nester comics in Nintendo Power.
  • Pascal Ory, a French political scholar, frequently appears in public wearing a bow tie made of transparent plastic.
  • Conservative pundit George Will frequently wears a bow-tie.
  • Fellow conservative pundit Tucker Carlson used to wear them too, but in 2006 he announced on MSNBC that he would no longer be wearing them, saying, "I wanted to give my neck a break."
    • Carlson's bow-tie was famously mocked by Jon Stewart in a live interview.
  • Although he's supposed to look dorky in his, Matt Smith might actually be able to bring bow-ties back. Doctor Who is popular enough, and fashion is cyclical. If nowhere else, among guys trying to impress Matt Smith fangirls. Apparently, it has.
  • The Hong Kong politician Donald Tsang is known locally as "bow-tie" as he always wears it in cases others would settle with a necktie.
  • Mathematician and Fields medalist Cédric Villani. Although in his case it's actually a lavalličre, which brings the concept of bow-tie Up to Eleven. As unusual fashion items go, he also wears a spider brooch as seen here.
  • Fox Sports baseball field reporter Ken Rosenthal has taken to donning these on the air for charity awareness.
  • NFL star Dhani Jones loves to wear bow-ties, and even founded his own company to sell ties. Nowadays, he promotes wearing them for causes.
  • The former Prime Minister of Belgium, Elio Di Rupo, is never seen without a bow tie. The bow tie is so closely associated with him that the coalition agreement that formed his government (after 589 days during which Belgium didn't have one) is called "the Butterfly Agreement" (the word for bow tie and butterfly are the same in French and Dutch).
  • Lloyd Kaufman, chairman and face of Troma studios, and director of The Toxic Avenger.
  • Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, is famous for never being seen without one. He reportedly owns more than a thousand of them, and tries to wear each one no more often than once a year.
  • Paul Simon (the politician, not the musician).
  • Applies even to cats, as the new official government cat Larry shows us.
  • C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General of the U.S. during the 1980s, is remembered as much for his ties as he is for being the first major medical leader to speak about the A.I.D.S. epidemic.
  • Longtime tennis commentator Bud Collins often favored these on the air.
  • Legendary TV chef Keith Floyd.
  • Alton Brown has recently been seen sporting bow ties of late, though he may well have been influenced by the Trope Namer, as he's a confirmed Whovian.
  • Standard attire for male members of the Nation of Islam. It apparently stems from an incident when a member was nearly lynched by his necktie.
  • Murray Rothbard, the late Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist theorist, is well-remembered in libertarian circles for his tie.
  • Jeffrey Tucker, an editor also associated with the Austrian School, is known for wearing bow-ties.
  • Academic dress (sub-fusc) at Oxford mandates a white bow-tie for men (women wear a thin black ribbon around the neck). While the uniform is only required at exams and ceremonies, but you still tend to see students dressed up on regular days once in a while.
  • The Polish libertarian conservative politician and the writer of the most popular blog in Poland Janusz Korwin-Mikke is well-known for wearing a bow-tie (but this apparently does not help him earn voters' trust).
  • Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was seldom seen wearing anything else, even on the most formal occasions. He's noted for being pretty down-to-Earth, especially considering he's a retired Supreme Court Justice and patrician WASP from Chicago; his opinions are imbued with a commonsense sensibility and humor, as are his interviews (watch Ken Burns' Prohibition; Stevens' two interviews are positively charming).
  • Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, known for his dorky nice-guy image, was typically seen with a bow-tie.
  • Winston Churchill often wore a bowtie. And was Crazy Awesome.
  • And now they're back in fashion big-time, and everyone from high school students to dads are rocking them.


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