Most people know Jimmy Olsen as that goofy kid from Superman wearing a bowtie. As soon as people stopped wearing fancy bows as neckwear, he was made fun off by the comic community and everyone else who laid eyes on him. It’s time to change that! Bowties are awesome and Jimmy Olsen’s getting back into style.
Let’s dive into the history of bowties. According to Wikipedia it originated among Croatian mercenaries during the Prussian Wars of 17th century. They used a scarf to hold together the opening of their shirts, which they called a cravat. So not actually a bowtie, but that’s where it all started. Soon it was the fashionable thing to do. Later on it became a real choice. While most people switched to the necktie, some made the definitive decision to make the bow their signature look. After looking like that in public, there was no turning back. Some famous bowtie-wearing men of the olden days are Winston Churchill, Pee-wee Herman and Fred Astaire. Nowadays, wearing neckties is as fancy as we get, but there are still some fashionable figures out there who don’t believe that bowties are for old men and clowns.
The most famous one for me is Jimmy Olsen, which is why I picked him as the style icon. He accomplished the adorkable look and turned himself into a style icon for many men who weren’t as tough and muscular as Superman. The geeky guy became a dapper hottie. Although not every ‘reïncarnation’ of Jimmy Olsen has sported the neckwear (they changed his look in the ‘70’s), to most it is still his iconic image.
Looking over a list of bow tie wearers on Wikipedia I’m extremely surprised James Bond isn’t on it. Although he also wears other sorts of neckwear, he still is the most dashing when wearing a big black bowtie. It gives him more charm and style than the British accent and his suave words together.
Other contemporary wearers are fashion designers Alber Elbaz from Lanvin and Karl Lagerfeld. I was so excited to see that the Lanvin loves H&M collaboration included his signature bowtie! Steve Jobs had a bowtie fase in the 80’s and Matt Groening has a tendency to give a lot of his characters awesome neckwear as well.
But there have been two recent characters who’ve really brought it back into style: Doctor Who and Chuck Bass. I mentioned Doctor Who in an earlier post, where he said the following about his appearance:
Doctor: Trust me?
Doctor: Oi. Eyes on the tie. Look at me. I wear it and I don't care. Trust me?
Doctor: That's why it's cool.
— Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
Why wear a bowtie? Because they're cool! After the start of the new Doctor Who season, a leading fashion retailer exclaimed that they prompted the sales of bowties! Good news! Not only did he bring back the bowtie, he also made the fez fashionable and will work his magic on the Stetson next season.
Another contemporary dandy is off course Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl. He wears bowties for many occasions and has really brought them back to popular culture. Take a gander on Lookbook and you’ll see lots of boys creating outfits with a bow in the center. But it’s not just men wearing them anymore. Even girls are getting in on the action, and I’m not talking playmates. Alexa Chung, Rihanna, Diane Kruger, so what’s not to like! Famous people are wearing them, so should you!
I ran into bowties in a second-hand clothing store in Antwerpen. They had this big square bowl filled with colorful bowties. I especially liked the thick velvet kind, so I bought three of them. After that I started to wear them with as many different outfits as possible, but the reactions of most people weren’t as enthusiastic as I thought it would be. They would say, ‘how quaint’ or ‘My, what a big bow you have on’. Even though my new style didn’t catch on as I thought it would, I still think wearing bowties is the best way to look dashing. Next stop: suspenders and a Stetson!