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Published July 05, 2012, 11:33 PM

Benshoof: I’m not tying the knot (of my bowtie)

I have a confession to make: I don’t know how to tie a bowtie. As one of very few bowtie wearers around Fargo-Moorhead, I am saddened to have to say that, but I felt the truth had to come out.

I have a confession to make: I don’t know how to tie a bowtie.

As one of very few bowtie wearers around Fargo-Moorhead, I am saddened to have to say that, but I felt the truth had to come out.

That’s not to say, though, that my bowtie is a clip-on, of course (I like to think I’m above that). Rather, mine came pre-tied.

After wearing a bowtie for nearly a year as a way to make myself stand out (I purchased mine on a whim at JC Penney in Fargo about this time in 2011), I decided that it was past time to learn how to properly wear and tie the accessory.

So, I set off earlier this week to Strauss Clothing in Fargo, where co-owner John Stern told me that bowties have actually started to become more popular lately, although mostly just in larger cities.

Fargo is pretty slow to catch on to the newest fashion trends, apparently. This was surprising to me, because I thought my top hat and monocle were what all the kids in New York are wearing these days.

The last time bowties were popular in American fashion was the 1970s, Stern says, after the accessory reached the apex of its popularity sometime around the 1950s (all the hip young cats wanted to dress like President Harry Truman, a known bowtie wearer).

At Strauss Clothing, bowties sell for $25-50 apiece, and Stern says they make up about 5 percent of the store’s total necktie sales.

That may not be much, but Stern says that’s actually up from about two years ago, when bowties made up only half that number.

Given that information, I asked Stern the big question – why don’t more people wear bowties?

The most likely reason, he says, is that the bowtie is just “a little bit out of the ordinary.”

Given the looks that I get while wearing mine in public, I’d agree with that.

Another reason, though, could be that people – like me – think bowties are just so hard to tie.

But, Stern says, that’s not quite true.

“If you know how to tie a shoe, you can tie a bowtie. It’s the exact same knot,” he told me, demonstrating the proper procedure of over, under and through.

Practicing in front of a mirror, I gave it a shot. I was able to get through the first few steps, but ended up with something hardly resembling a bow.

The most difficult part of the process was straightening the knot, because I felt like if I pulled too hard on one end the whole thing would come unraveling.

Unsuccessful after a few attempts, I felt like a bow-tying failure, despite Stern’s reassurances.

“After 30 minutes of practice, I’m sure you’ll get it,” he told me, giving me a good-natured pat on the back.

Maybe. Or maybe I’ll stick with my pre-tied tie for now.

After all, given how few people wear bowties around here, who’ll know the difference?


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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