Who Wears a Bow Tie? A Completely Unscientific Internet Poll.

Hey! Its me! In a bow tie!

For Father’s Day about two years ago, my wife and kids gave me a couple bow ties.

I proceeded to not wear them for several months, largely because I never remembered during the week to learn to tie a bow tie and, in the rush of getting my family getting itself ready to go to church, I never had time Sunday mornings. Eventually, though, I learned to tie a bow tie (thanks internet!). From there, well, it’s not like I’ve never gone back—I have a great collection of neckties, and I enjoy wearing them occasionally—but more often than not, I choose one of my bow ties.[fn1]

Growing up, I’m almost entirely sure I never saw anybody at church wearing a bow tie.[fn2] Similarly, I never saw it at BYU or for the several years I lived in New York.

That said, it turns out, I’m not entirely unique in my sartorial choices, at least in my ward. There are three of us who wear bow ties substantially every Sunday. There are another two or three men who wear them frequently, and another handful who wear them occasionally. One of our three young men always wears a bow tie.[fn3]

The sheer volume of bow ties (relative to other places I’ve lived, at least) got me thinking: is this just a Chicago thing? Is it an emerging thing? Or is it not even a thing? And the best way, it seems to me, to figure this out is through a completely unscientific internet poll. So here it is:

[fn1] It’s not just church—days I teach, I wear a suit and tie, and usually that tie’s a bow tie. In fact, some days I have to pick one of my kids up from school and take her straight to her climbing practice. I’m usually the only person who shows up at the gym in a bow tie.

[fn2] Except the day after Prom, I assume.

[fn3] A couple of our primary kids wear bow ties too—my son among them—but I don’t know that bow ties on little kids are entirely unique—I vaguely remember having a clip-on bow tie when I was like 6.


  1. John Loveland says:

    My answer was the one weird guy one. But I’m the weird guy.

  2. I am that one weird guy in my ward. I don’t normally wear one when I’m speaking or doing stake business, but on Sundays that I’m just attending my own ward I’ll wear one every so often. Maybe once or twice a quarter.

    I know of two guys in the stake that only wear bow ties. At least one even wears a white one in the temple.

  3. Works for me. (I’d be that one weird guy, except there are several of us.)

  4. Kasen Christensen says:

    And that one weird guy is me…

    That said, I see them making a general comeback.

  5. I personally don’t wear tires at all – in church or out of church. Someone at sometime decided that they were required for true respect in your personal worship. I reject that entirely and have given up wearing ties for a few years now. I’m here to tell you that it is liberating. In my mind it isn’t much different that women ditching their hose, or for the truly liberated, wearing pants. Why do we get so wrapped up about what people wear or don’t wear to church? Shouldn’t we look more on the heart and less on the outward appearance? Having said that, I think bowties are freaking awesome!

  6. Mike, in my original conception, I was going to poll people on whether they wore bow ties, and one option was going to be not wearing ties. But I changed to the idea of how many people (roughly) in a ward wear bow ties, which forced me to drop the don’t-wear-ties option. (Though other ideas for polls, if any of my fellow-bloggers are reading: completely unscientific internet polls asking about, e.g., how many men don’t wear ties, how many women wear pants, and stuff like that. In my ward, we have at least one in each of those categories.)

  7. One of the funniest comments I ever saw on deadspin was for a boxing match with a controversial ending. The comment about the boxer: He was probably most upset about being declared a loser by a guy in a bow-tie.

  8. Villate says:

    When my youngest became a deacon a couple of years ago, he wanted to wear a bow tie to pass the sacrament (annoyingly, our Bishop requires a tie, though a non-white shirt is grudgingly accepted). He doesn’t know how to tie one, but we bought him a couple of wrap-around ones and he has been happily wearing them ever since. There are a few other men who wear them regularly in our ward. I rarely see them out in the wild, though, and I hang out with a lot of hipsters.

  9. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Been wearing the bow tie for 20 years now. After a couple of years, I decided I needed to commit, so I threw away my collection of neckties, and it’s been glorious. I started out as that one weird guy, but a few others have come around over the years (only occasional participants, of course). Still in the minority, but there seems to be greater cultural acceptance. Of course, it surely marks me as someone not fit for certain callings – but that feeling is mutual, so I’ll take it. I was turned away at the temple once for wearing one, however.

  10. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Sam, were you a resident of the Land of Lincoln during the long Senatorial career of Paul Simon? I’m gonna guess not, because nobody in the Prairie State can wear a bow tie in earnest again.

  11. Nope. I’ve just been here for about a decade, so Senator Simon has less effect on my sartorial choices than even the other Paul.

  12. I’m also in the Midwest, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many men in the ward I live in wear bowties. Also YM both blessing and passing the sacrament. Not a majority by any means, but definitely more than just the one weird guy. :)

  13. Mark B. says:

    Ben Lewis.

    (This is really just a test of BYU trivia from before most of your time.)

  14. Can a Bishop wear a bow tie?
    Asking for a friend.

  15. Honestly, I think that a bishop not only can wear a bow tie, but that a bishop should wear a bow tie. (At least, if he wants to wear a bow tie.)

  16. If I can represent the observers, I *like* bow ties.

  17. Thanks, Ardis!

  18. Royce Van Tassell says:

    I had a bishop in a Provo singles ward who not only wore a bow tie, but could tie it without a mirror. (I only rarely can pull that minor miracle off.) In my neighborhood, quite a few of the young men wear bow ties, though only a few of them tie their own.

    Here’s my question for those of us wearing bow ties: how willing are you to wear feather bow ties? Wooden bow ties? Leather bow ties? I have some of each, though I don’t find very many people venturing out.

    For what it’s worth, I am totally jealous of Michael’s collection on the Good Place. He has to have the greatest bow tie collection of all time.

  19. I guess don’t understand the mutually-exclusive camp: I have bow ties and neck ties and I wear both with regularity.

    I’d bet you could count 5 bow ties on (grown) men in my ward on any given Sunday. I live in Idaho.

    I should add that I don’t wear bow ties to court. I had a partner early in my career who would dress really well every day he wasn’t in court, but wore one of a couple of crumpled old suits and stained ties for when he was trying cases. I remember showing up for a hearing once in a bow tie and him freaking out about how you want to look like a man of the people in court, and bow ties were the antithesis of that. I still don’t think he’s right in actual terms, but in terms of perception, particularly in front of a jury, I guess I’d agree. A lot of people have a bias against bow-tie wearers as hoity-toity snobs. But I don’t care at church. They have to love me regardless. It’s in the bylaws.

  20. “I was turned away at the temple once for wearing one, however.”

    Wut. I hope this wasn’t recently.

    I haven’t read the temple president handbooks, but my understanding from talking with our temple president is that everyone is welcome in the temple regardless of what you’re wearing. We dress nicely out of tradition, but it’s no requirement.

  21. nobody, really says:

    In my last Midwestern ward, there was a guy who would give each young man a bow tie for their 12th birthday. It was quite a rite of passage – had to learn how to tie the real thing, and then pass the sacrament for the first time wearing said bow tie. Among the young men, wearing a bow tie before you turned 12 was quite against the rules – you had to come by one honestly. Afterwards, the young men were probably 60% bow ties, 40% novelty “Sponge Bob Square Pants” ties.

    He didn’t do anything for the young women. They noticed, too.

  22. The Other Brother Jones says:

    My three sons all wore bow-ties during their YM years. The last one is doing it more or less 30% of the time. but showing up in a clip on was absolutely wrong. It had to be a real bow-tie, properly tied. They started a bit of a trend in our ward. It has pretty much passed now. ….Also there is this one other guy.

  23. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Somewhat recently, Jared. I was attending a wedding in Utah (not where I live). It was just an overzealous temple worker, and an appeal to a higher authority actually did resolve things. So while I was, eventually, allowed to enter there was a long delay that caused consternation among those who were already inside waiting for me. Put me in a foul mood, though, and pretty much wrecked the experience that day. (oh, and I have a white one that I wear INSIDE the temple!).

  24. Must have been very different temple worker than those I have come across.
    I once went to the temple just to drop off some temple names, back when you put them on a computer disk. I thought I could just hand it over at the front desk so showed up in dirty old blue jeans looking like I just cleaned out the garage. The person who checked recommends insisted I needed to enter the temple and deliver it to the family names office. I did it but felt completely out of place and would never make that mistake again.

  25. Are you sure it is the bow tie that makes you the one weird guy? Maybe that gives people a socially acceptable description to use. You know, that guy who wears the bow ties. Instead of, you know, that guy with all the off-the-wall opinions.

  26. That honestly really surprises me. I only worked the recommend desk once, but it was made VERY clear to me when I was trained that the only qualification for entry was a valid recommend and that I was absolutely not to even make any remark on anyone’s clothing.

  27. Brian F. says:

    I’m the weird bow tie wearer to Church, but that isn’t the interesting thing. I wear one to work, probably 3 days a week, at the Church Office Building. Elder Oaks complimented me on my bow tie one day when I ran into him. I’ve taken that as tacit approval ever since.

  28. My retired dad wears a BOLO tie regularly … but no bow ties on men around me, sadly.

  29. No place for my answer above. My youngest daughter does frequently when she wears her shirt and pants to Church, my son will on occasion but overall not many in my Ward. .

  30. Yet Another John says:

    +1 on the bolo tie. Easiest and best tie ever!

  31. Ender2k says:

    Couple of Deacons do. One of the priests does with fair regularity. I wear one at Christmas time, couple other men do occasionally, usually around holidays.

  32. There’s this one guy who has amazing abs and who likes to wear a shirt at least a size small. Bow tie, no jacket, grips the podium when he talks or prays to help flex his arms.

  33. Me for almost 30 years now, including always when teaching and always in church callings. The exceptions are when I don’t wear a tie at all, when I’m in New Mexico where bolo ties are de rigueur, and at weddings where I’ve been given a dress code. I’m almost always the only one in a ow tie. Exceptions are when I’m in a meeting with Sam Brunson, or with family members (a brother and my father when he was alive, in particular)

  34. A while ago our YM president, whose son had taken it upon himself to occasionally wear a bow tie, bought a bunch of bow ties for all the YM, and now occasionally you’ll see, when they coordinate, the sacrament being passed entirely by bow tie-wearing deacons, teachers, and priests (and the YM president too, when needed).

  35. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I’m waiting for the day when a contemporary GA will wear a bow tie while delivering a talk in General Conference. It won’t go unnoticed, and it will receive A LOT of attention. And then the flood gates will open and they’ll be common sights throughout the Church. There are surely many men who secretly wish to wear one, and will feel liberated. Those who currently wear them will feel vindicated, and can claim to have been ahead of the times. But as gratifying as this may be, it will be fleeting. I’ll feel less subversive, and will need to come up with another way to distinguish myself from the corporate culture of my coreligionists. Since I am rather fond of the look, I guess I should pray that it never happens.

  36. In my ward the boys, the bishopric, and anyone else wearing a tie are invited – even encouraged – to wear bow ties on Fast Sunday. It started out as a gimmick to do something a little fun and a little different and has taken on a life of its own. It’s been very popular among the youth and probably 60% of the youth wear them every Sunday. Visitors ask us what’s up with the bow ties.

  37. In my ward the boys, the bishopric, and anyone else wearing a tie are invited – even encouraged – to wear bow ties on Fast Sunday. It started out as a gimmick to do something a little fun and a little different and has taken on a life of its own. It’s been very popular among the youth and probably 60% of the youth wear them every Sunday. Visitors ask us what’s up with the bow ties.

  38. Also noteworthy – my Doberman Pinscher always wears a bow tie and gets compliments everywhere we go. He’s exceedingly handsome.

  39. Four years ago, when my Catholic husband and I were planning and preparing for our wedding (in a lovely Episcopal church where I’m in the choir), he decided that he wanted to buy and wear a tux for the wedding and that the only acceptable bow tie for the fancy tux was a real one tied properly. He bought a cheap bow tie and practiced every night for about a month before the wedding, and now when he dresses up, he only wears bow ties. It sure is easier for going out to a fancy dinner — you aren’t as likely to have the tie fall in your food!

  40. El Guapo says:

    I wear my New Mexican bolo tie regularly. Not a big fan of bow ties (seeing or wearing), but can appreciate the individuality.

  41. Debo, I did the same thing when I got married! Except for the part about learning to tie it—it didn’t occur to me that it would be hard. It was lots of years later before I actually learned to tie a bow tie.

  42. Peggy Carpenter says:

    Our bishop of nine years, recently called to be counselor to the new Stake President, always wore a bow tie! There are always a few ward YM and older men who wear bow ties, perhaps following his example. The Sunday after he was called to the Stake Presidency, almost all of the men in the congregation wore bow ties. Thought it was a neat way to respectfully say “We love you.”

  43. My father-in-law only wears bow ties. My sons wear them about half the time to church and my oldest about half the time to work as well. I wear one occasionally to church and I have a white one I often wear in the temple. But we’re the only family in the ward that really wears them. Colored shirts are more common than bow ties in my ward.

  44. I like variety and so bow ties are part of my regular rotation. The bow ties always seem to get a comment or two when I wear them to church.

  45. I wore them exclusively at church and at my job except when I had jury trials, starting around 2007 through 2015. I noticed that once an adult started wearing one, several young men ventured out and started wearing them. Most of the young men wear bowties about half the time and there are another 3-4 men that wear them sporadically. The last 4 years I wear a bowtie about once a month to church and a few days a month to work.
    I have a nice little white bowtie from Tie Bar that I wore to the temple exclusively until about a year ago, now I wear it about every tenth time I go. My wife and I were just called as temple workers and based on the training, I intend to wear long ties while working, not by request, but to not distract any patrons.
    Judge Grady Jolly of the Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wore them for years and then changed to long ties about a decade ago. I never had the courage to ask whey he stopped. I stopped the exclusive wearing to Church because once other adults wore them, I felt like the youth wouldn’t be questioned or bothered by any leaders if they wanted to wear them too. I changed at work because I had several work assignments in South America and didn’t want to be out of the understood dress code there.

  46. There’s just too much dead space between the neck and the belt when wearing a bow tie without a vest.

  47. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I made a couple of neck-ties from leather which I wear regularly. They often get a comment.
    I have made a couple of leather bow-ties for others, but i have not worn them.

  48. About once a month, and have been doing that for about 30 years. All my recent acquisitions have been bow ties, and so eventually they will outnumber the regular ties. And apart from one of our high councilors in our stake, I am the only one who wears them regularly to church.

  49. Bow ties: a discussion topic I can get into!

    In our Stake, a member of the Stake Presidency wears a bow tie, though we noted that when general authorities come visit he breaks down and wears a neck tie.

    Bow ties made a come back several years ago when Matt Smith’s Doctor Who declared that “Bow ties are cool!” With him as The Doctor, YM gained the confidence to wear bow ties.

    I love my bow ties because they’re much more forgiving than neck ties. If you don’t get a neck tie just right it ends up too short or too long and you have to start over; with bow ties you can often adjust them a little and get them looking good (or at least good-ish)

    If you go on eBay you can buy bow ties from China for cheap. They’re not name brands or anything but look good. I’ve bought six or eight this way and most have been decent quality. (I threw one away because it was sub standard, but the rest look great.)

  50. Left Field says:

    I thought bow-tie was a subset of necktie.

  51. Hedgehog says:

    My dad frequently wore bow ties, along with coloured shirts and fancy waistcoats. I haven’t seen any at church recently though, sadly.

    Toad: “I’ll feel less subversive, and will need to come up with another way to distinguish myself from the corporate culture of my coreligionists.”
    You could always try a cravat with a fancy pin. My Dad wore those too.

    He also had a bolo tie, which I think was a gift – not much call for them here in Britain.

    As a teenage girl I borrowed ties from my Dad so often that he selected a few I could have permanently, some of which had belonged to my grandfather. One was an interesting shape variant on a bow tie I’ve never seen anywhere else. Since it was black satin, I would use it with my concert dress for youth orchestra. My daughter now wears it, and has her own selection of ties. These days I have a collection of scarves rather than ties.

    I’ve worn trousers to church ever since the first “pants day”, so have hardly ever worn a skirt since, except my white skirt in the temple, and I’m seriously considering making white wide leg trousers. I’ve not noticed any untoward response wearing my smart trousers to attend the temple.

  52. I think it will have to be Elder Eyring who goes first because he’s tall and slender. In my experience that’s who wears a bow tie (my prof son, YM over 6’). A few in my ward but enough that I’ve stopped noticing.

  53. Its the youth in our ward who wear bow ties. Like five of them.

  54. I wear a bolo tie a,out half the time About half of the YM wear bow ties

  55. Kristine A says:

    I don’t recall seeing any in Rexburg in the last 7 years (unsurprisingly) but I’ve seen them a lot on the internet with younger people/other subcultures…….

  56. Your poll is missing one important option: women.
    I wear bow ties. I wear them once or twice a week when I’m teaching, and every once in a while at church. Bow ties are cool.

  57. @Kristine A, quite a few young men and some adult men wear them in my Rexburg ward. Some of the men in my department have a “bow tie day” at work, too.

  58. Sorry, Bex. In many ways, my quick casual poll was deficient. If I ever poll something like this again, I promise I’ll do a better job.

  59. Well, there was one person who was wearing a bow tie when you lived in New York. I lived in your apartment for a week or so when I was trying to find a place to live (thanks again!), and was in your ward 2001-2002, and I only know how to tie bow ties. I think there is a trend, at least in certain Mormon niches. In my ward in Provo made up of a lot of BYU professors maybe one fourth of the men wear bow ties. I’m not alone anymore.

  60. Marriner says:

    I have been wearing bowties exclusively at church since before any of our current deacons were born. About 3 years ago, I decided to wear them for work too. At this point, I have quite a collection, including wooden and leather bowties. I have also been in non-white shirts since even before I started with the bowties.

    The bowties haven’t caused any friction, as far as I can tell, except once at the temple. I had a worker turn me away from picking up a name for an endowment session. Ok, fine. I’ll go do sealings instead.

    I have noticed a “large handful” of other bowtie wearers, adults and youth, in my ward in recent years, but for a long time I was the lone weirdo.

  61. eastofthemississippi says:

    @Marriner… the temple worker who turned you away from picking up a name for the endowment session was… W.R.O.N.G. Speaking as a temple worker myself.

  62. Senator Simon spoke at my law school graduation. I presume he had a bow tie on under the gown, but I didn’t notice.

    At any rate, here’s the definitive take on bow ties, spoken by Doc Wilson in David Mamet’s State and Main (2000): “It’s the truth that you should never trust anybody who wears a bow tie. Cravat’s supposed to point down to accentuate the genitals. Why’d you wanna trust somebody whose tie points out to accentuate his ears?”

  63. AlaskanGal says:

    I voted one crazy guy, but in truth there are probably two each week, and not the same guys. So not quite a “large handful”.

    My favorite are the sea otter ties and vests worn by native families.

  64. To answer “The Bishop” question: the bishop of our ward exclusively wears bow ties and only maybe once a year wears a normal tie.

  65. Poll needs refinement:
    _ Are you kidding? Absolutely not!
    _ I mean, there’s that one weird guy.
    X There’s a small group (2 or 3) of discerning individuals; we have formed a “Finer Things Club”
    _ A large handful do.
    _ More than half the men.
    _ All the men in my ward wear bow ties. (I’m also clearly a lying liar.)

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