We didn’t think it was possible to like Bill Nye the Science Guy more than we already did. After watching a video featuring the educator and Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick getting a lesson in the art of the bow tie, however, we can wholeheartedly profess our eternal love for all things Nye and necktie. The Disney/PBS children’s show host — a frequent wearer of bow ties — advises Hardwick to “dress the knot, snuggify, pull it tightical, and pay attentiontivity to the bow tieical” in order to properly sport the iconic accessory.
The bow tie has a long history of living around the necks of individuals who weren’t afraid to buck trends and make a statement. Donning a bow tie is a polite defiance by a dapper rebel. We’ve rounded up a list of famous, enthusiastic wearers below who deserve a round of applause. Chime in with your favorites below.
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
We already miss the acerbic wit and wisdom of Gore Vidal. The famously rebellious writer suited his oft-worn bow tie to a T. The accessory even made an appearance in his role as a corrupt gay congressman in George P. Cosmatos’ Shadow Conspiracy.
The hard-drinking, cigar-smoking Prime Minister was a feisty, tough figure whose famous polka dot bow tie was a nod to his British heritage, but also a big middle finger. This is the same man that wore an eccentric, blitz-ready zipper suit, after all.
“Do it big, do it right and do it with style.”
“I never think of myself as spic and span or all duded out — just as someone who wants to be comfortable and satisfy his own taste,” the dazzling dancer once said of his fashion sense. Astaire went through a bow tie phase for many years, which complemented the high fashion Hollywood garb he often wore in his films, dancing cheek to cheek.
The comedic silent film star assembled his famous Tramp outfit from contradictory stylistic elements that contrasted ragamuffin playfulness with serious suit pieces, revealing his character’s aspirations of wealth and fame. As Fashion into Film explains it, “The anarchic nature of his garments is reflected in the apparent unpredictability of his actions. Genius.” We couldn’t agree more.
“The last thing I bought and loved was a selection of silk bow ties from Charvet, one of those wonderfully old-fashioned places of which there are now so few. I almost always wear a bow tie. These are Scottish plaid with spots and bright colors.”
“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
Modeling himself after burlesque comedian and 1950’s children’s TV host Pinky Lee, Paul Reubens borrowed a grey suit and nerdy, red bow tie to complete his signature wardrobe. He hasn’t looked back since.
Kinsey’s trademark conservative dress and bow tie was an attempt to appeal to the world as a serious, objective scientist rather than an iconoclast presenting wild theories about sexuality.
What else would you expect a top hat and monocle-wearing, high society outcast — who is modeled after an actual penguin and named Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot — to wear?
The crooked bow tie with tails: it’s what all the cool Edwardian occultists are wearing in the afterlife.
The Cat in the Hat
The beloved Dr. Seuss character’s bow tie is a jaunty symbol of his wacky personality.
The long-haired college dropout cleaned up his act in 1984 when he presented the first Macintosh wearing a green bow tie. It proved he was a man who always seized the moment and made a lasting impression.
“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.”
Always the provocateur, Dietrich broke taboos about female sexuality and identity by wearing men’s clothes in and out of the film studios. The iconic image of the actress wearing a bow tie and top hat comes from 1930’s Morocco. The film also features a scene with Dietrich dressed in tails, kissing a woman — a gloriously scandalous moment in Hollywood.
The nerdy farm boy started wearing bow ties in high school, and the fashion accessory helped make his popcorn one of the most recognizable brands in America.
Bela Lugosi as Dracula
The bow tie gentleman vampire Lugosi wore for a stage production of Dracula sold for $7,050.
Krusty the Klown
Krusty’s hair may be party on the sides and business on top, but his bow tie is all class.
Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective has been portrayed by many mustachioed men over the years, but the neatly dressed investigator’s bow tie has always remained. It matches his fastidious and formal character.
Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor’s Julius Kelp
It’s impossible to hear the term “nutty professor” and not picture funny man Jerry Lewis as the hilariously inept and supremely dorky character — unkempt, except for his bow tie — from his 1963 movie.
“Bow ties are cool.”
As much as we love Stan Laurel’s cry face, we dig his adorable bow tie more.
The fashion designer is known to sport some seriously fierce neckwear, including a foppish bow tie — when he’s not busy looking like a really rich satanist or mad scientist, that is.