Whenever the topic of formalwear comes up, the conversation generally turns to the bowtie and the endless debate about self-tied v pre-tied versions. Many people often wonder if it even matters, and this is the first thing we should look at, does it really matter and if so why?
The simple answer is yes, it really does matter, although that, and why it matters does depend on the kind of occasion and venue it will be worn at. The first thing to understand is that you can tell when someone is wearing a pre0ties bowtie, they do not look like a self-tied one, no matter what the manufacturers claim. They are too uniform, too flat and lifeless, and everyone will know it is a pre-tied bowtie. For many formal occasions, this is simply not the way to go but many are putt off the self-tied route simply because of the daunting prospect of having to tie the bowtie itself!
The fear of tying a bowtie comes from the mystery that has somehow built up around them, in reality, its little different to tying a simple shoelace bow, and here is the real trick, it not only doesn’t have to be perfect and completely symmetrical, it is actually better if it isn’t. The personal factor is what really makes a self-tied bowtie stand out, however there are other aspects that show an advantage of the pre-tied versions too.
Size and material both make a difference when it comes to the bowtie, a bow size should be proportional to the wearers face, and this is done by buying a tie of appropriate width, pre-tied tend to be a uniform size and can often look poorer as a result. However, for overall effect, it is perhaps the choice of material where the self-tied bowtie has the biggest advantage. Although various colors are available, a black tie do is just that, but with a choice of satin, faille or barathea fabrics offering very different textures and finishes, you can match or contrast the suit finishes very easily for a distinctive look.
A self-tied bowtie is always the way to go, you can have the perfect size and material to compliment you and your suit, and tying a bowtie really is not difficult at all, plus, you can undo it at the end of the night for the James Bond look, no pre-tied can do that!
Well fitting, quality garments make us all look great, but we all have budgets, and so compromise is the order of the day, and for most of us this means we buy what we think is the best compromise between quality, fit and cost. To really find that balance though we need to understand the difference that high quality fabric construction actually makes, and there is no better example than the difference between canvas and fused garments.
The very best quality suits available are generally of traditional construction, and that is the full canvas suit. The canvas is sewn between the lining and the cloth outer and is where the strength of the suit is found. Canvas provides the structural strength, distributing the forces from the stress points and making the suit look great for longer. Canvas also conforms to your body shape the longer you wear it, providing the perfect fit that we associate with expensive clothing.
A fused suit is constructed very differently, it is an interlining that is heat glued to the wool of the suit, a process that allows for cheaper price points for the garment. However, it does come with some idiosyncrasies, the stiff chest area that just does not hang as well as a canvas suit, and this kind of garment does not conform to the body in the same way either. Furthermore, over time dry cleaning can lead to the separation of the wool and fusing, which results in a bubbling type of appearance on the garment in question. Fused garments simply cannot match the durability of the canvas garment and will not last as long.
The canvas garment is clearly the better fitting and longer lasting item, but the cost difference between the two is significant, and must be considered as well. Rather than thinking of them as competing, it is better to look at the two options and for different purposes. If you need a suit or garment to wear daily for business wear or similar, the better investment will almost always be the canvas suit, it will look better for much longer, be more comfortable, and is a sound investment. For a suit or garment that will be worn much less frequently and needs to be purchased to a budget, the fused garment offers a fantastic compromise that will not disappoint.