The Bow Tie Find: Vintage Patterns & Labels

While out running errands a few weeks ago I decided to pop into one of my favorite thrift stores. It is a little shop and while I have seen a lot of nice suits and sport coats there I have never found anything for myself. I went in the zero expectations, but I left with 12 bow ties for $3. Needless to say, it was a good trip.

Finding ties at thrift stores is easy. Finding ties that I like at thrift stores is a little more challenging. Finding bow ties at thrift stores has proved itself extremely difficult.  So when I found the first bow tie I was surprised. When I found 12 more that I Liked (and about 6 that I loved) I was ecstatic. I have included a few pictures of the bow ties below.

The Patterns

Green Wool Bow tieFerrell Reed Pheasant Bow TieYellow Paisley Huntington Bow TiePaul Stuart Bow TieVintage Madras Bow tieGreen Vintage Bow TieBatik Bow tieThe patterns are great, but there are some very cool labels as well. I found the Magnolia Cottage label first and loved its simplicity. I noticed the Welch, Margetson label in the store and immediately remembered that Richard Press mentioned the brand in a post (Here is that post: The Black Sheep). I didn’t discover the Made in England Rike-Kumler Co. in Dayton until I got home, but because it is local it is my favorite.

The Labels

MAGNOLIA COTTAGE Bow Tie LabelThe RIKE-KUNLER CO. Dayton Bow TieWelch, Margetson 8 Bow TiePaul Stuart Label on Bow Tie

An interesting fact that is relevant to this post is that I don’t actually wear bow ties. Well, I have worn a bow tie 3 times in my life, but I am still not comfortable in one, at least not in an office setting. However, I have learned that I do not know what the future holds. I may decide to wear bow ties in the future and that time I will appreciate the $3 investment.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

24 Comments on "The Bow Tie Find: Vintage Patterns & Labels"

  1. Joe says:

    I started wearing bow ties about 2 or 3 years ago (I had been wearing long ties for almost as long as I’ve been alive) and now find that I almost exclusively wear them. I’m always caught off guard when I do wear a long tie and people (friends included) ask me why I’m not wearing a bow tie. I guess they have sort of, unintentionally, become my signature item. I wear t hem to work – which is a casual environment, to dressier events, and just out with friends or out for the day. I’ve always been comfortable wearing long ties everywhere, and now find that I’m equally comfortable wearing bow ties everywhere. I do still wear long ties now and a again, as I have some I love and can’t bring myself to part with yet. The bow ties you found look amazing! I love the patterns! I encourage you to keep finding ways to work bow ties into your wardrobe! 🙂

    • Max says:

      A signature item suggests great self-awareness, which fits right in with the show crowd.

      Why swear off regular (long) ties that improve your shirt’s and jacket’s looks?

      Bowties are ultimately practical:

      1. Do not fall into the soup
      2. Do not fall into the wash basin or onto patient examinee (maybe why MD’s like them)
      3. Can be removed, folded, and pocketed w/o bulges. (Try that with just any tie.)

      Naturally, colors, pattern, and material matter as much for bowties as for any other kind of tie. A tie needn’t look wild, but a dull tie is well, just plain dull!

  2. George says:

    I’ve never done the bt thing, either. However, if I were to dip my toe into this water, I’d start with some no-to-low-risk outings: shopping a mall out of town, then in town, Saturday in the park, the dog track, a movie theater, casual dinner out, etc. Once I got the hang of it, I might try a casual Friday at work, asking potential detractors beforehand if they think it would fit (they’ll all say, ‘yes,’ don’t worry). After a few of those, I might try mainstreaming. Sounds like a fun adventure if undertaken patiently. I sure like those patterns you’ve collected, too, which reminds of another rule: always to top shelf in taste…no jokes, just pure best of the best. That doesn’t mean new, it means quality. Good luck, and I hope to see you decked out in a bow here soon!

  3. Carmelo says:

    Wonderful find!
    I like very much the n1 (the green tie),n5 and ,n6.
    The narrow bow ties seems to me from 50s-very early 60s,correct?

  4. Ezra Cornell says:

    Great finds! And definitely put them into rotation. I’m a big fan of the bow tie. As Joe notes, however, they can become a “signature” so that when you wear a long tie people will seem a little disappointed and will ask “what happened?” I don’t know why we are assumed to be limited to just one kind of tie! It’s great having choices based on mood and setting.

    Here is another pet-peeve based on some 20 years of wearing them: inevitably people ask, “did you tie that yourself?” Of course no one would ever ask that question to someone wearing a long tie. Knowing how to tie one is just a prerequisite to being an adult male. But somehow it’s “acceptable” to wear a pre-tied bow tie. Why?! It’s insulting to the bow-tie-wearing tribe.

    I think the bow tie is especially suited to sweater vest layered under a sport coat. They can look a little skimpy when paired, for instance, with a white shirt, which seems to overpower them a little, unless you throw on a v-neck vest, then they look splendid. Try out a few different options at home before taking a turn out. You’ll find them lots of fun — and even at full retail they’re cheaper then a regular tie from the same maker (BB, J. Press, etc.). Enjoy! And for the price you paid, heck, you have a great conversation when someone says “that’s a sharp tie!”

  5. oxford cloth button down says:

    Carmelo – That is correct. I believe that some of these ties are from 50s-60s. The batwing style was very popular at that time.

  6. C.H. Winfrey says:

    Very nice OCBD! The beauty of older bow ties like this is they are almost always much more conservative then the bow ties of today, and therefore much easier to wear, in my opinion. The only way you can mess one of these up is by over-thinking the fact that you’re wearing a bow tie.

    Ezra Cornell- Agreed on all counts.

  7. Charlottesville says:

    Great bow ties! I bought my first BT when I was in my early 20s, and still have it, although it is now a bit too frayed to wear. For a time I wore one at least once a week, and as others have testified, it became something of a trademark, even though I more often wore a standard four-in-hand. I have dozens today, but wear them only occasionally. You have reminded me how splendid they can look. I urge you to give your lovely new acquisitions a try out soon.

  8. oxford cloth button down says:

    You guys seem to understand my dilemma. I would like to wear bow ties occasionally, but do not want to become “the bow tie guy.”

    I do agree that they look smart. I also agree with Ezra that a sweater vest can really help to balance the look. I have always thought they looked better on men with less kempt hair than my own, too.

  9. Ezra Cornell says:

    You don’t need to hear from me again, but I did want to add one thing:

    I’m in the middle of winter here, so right now bow ties and sweater vests are much in my rotation. But I wanted to say that in summer they can look fantastic, too. They look a little more refreshing and cool and smart than a regular tie, which can look like a dog’s panting tongue (enjoy the imagery). A blue shirt with a summery print bow tie (like your new madras purchase) and a seersucker sport coat looks fantastic — but perhaps I’m revealing my regional roots. Anyway, don’t let them be seasonal wear or chain them to the sweater vest. Just like a long tie, different textures and fabrics will allow you to wear them year-round. The biggest hurdle is just getting used to seeing oneself wearing a bow tie!

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    Sound advice Ezra.

  11. Anglophile Trad says:

    Suggest you start with a navy-and-white Churchill dot.
    The conservative pattern will decrease the exaggerated reactions of people who feel obliged to gawk when they see you in a bow tie the first time.

  12. FJW says:

    Great comments from all and great ties…but 12 ties for $3.

    That’s a benchmark that may be hard to beat!

  13. James says:

    Hi Jerrod, unrelated to the blog post, but do you wear cardigans much?

  14. oxford cloth button down says:

    James – I actually don’t own a single cardigan. I don’t think that they work well on me. However, I would love to have a heavy shawl collar cardigan. The shawl collar takes it to a whole different level in my humble opinion.

    FJW – I forget to mention that I actually got 13, because you get a free tie with every purchase. Ha!

    AnlgophileTrad – Thanks for the suggestion. The Churchhill dot is a great pattern!

    • James says:

      Jerrod – I’m quite a fan of cardigans, chunky shawl collor types and thinner fine knit styles. Go well with OCBD, plaid/check shirts and polo shirts.

  15. Hollywood Argyle says:

    It’s hard to add anything to what has already been said, but I’ll try.

    Yes, a navy Churchill dot bow tie is classic. Consider also the Lipton tie—if you can find one.

    All the classic stripes are excellent patterns for bow ties, too.

    Yes, bow ties often work well with a vest, but they are also a cool (as in not hot) option for warm weather.

    If you wear a bow tie more than about once a month, you risk being known as “the guy who always wears bow ties.” Since I’m already known as a dapper dresser, I don’t care, but I still wear them infrequently. Sometimes a month or more will go by between bow tie appearances; sometimes, only a week. Still, no more than two or three times a month.

    Some people seem to think that the collar worn with a bow tie matters. Personally, I find a button-down collar is often best, but I sometimes wear a bow tie with a straight collar.

    A bow tie with a suit can be a challenge, but, as Gary Cooper shows us, it can be done. A double-breasted suit might work better than single breasted.

    Anyway, congratulations on your great find—and what a bargain!

  16. OldSchool says:

    Highly recommended thick cardigan.
    Check their sizing guide, too. This firm gives actual measurements of the garment itself:

  17. Woo Pig Sooie says:

    As an Arkansan, I approve! If you’ve never been to Hot Springs it is worth the trip, my friends.

  18. Max says:

    Welch & Margetson’s ADAPTA label, silk bow tie was just what I hoped to find.

    I own three. Two need retirement.

    But Welch & Margetson is no more.

    Any hope finding such bow ties at reasonable cost? I will pay something extra, but these are not items I simply cannot do without.

  19. oxford cloth button down says:

    Max – Thanks for both comments. I apologize for the late reply to your first comment. I think that you could find a few ADAPTA’s on ebay and etsy if you are patient. Great points about why bow ties should not be overlooked. There are many professions where wearing a bow tie just makes sense.

  20. Chris Fuller says:

    This is the first I saw your blog and of course I found the bow tie part. These are great bargains and I would certainly take them off your hands for well I guess I’d give $13 but not a cent more. Just kidding they are a great find and you should enjoy wearing not just having them.

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