In case it somehow snuck up on you, today is National Bow Tie Day! Now before you run out to grab all the bow tie shaped party decorations you can get your hands on, or just roll your eyes and move along – I’m guessing the latter is more likely – just take a moment to consider the proud history of the noble bow tie.

Ultimately we have Croatia to thank for all of today’s modern men’s neckwear, including the bow tie. It was back in the 17th century that French soldiers first took note of how Croatian mercenaries held their shirt collars together using short scarves. This style was adopted by French men and became a part of how the fashionable set dressed– yes the world was already looking to France for fashion advice nearly four hundred years ago. Over the centuries this fashion statement evolved and split to become the neckties and bow ties that modern men know and struggle with tying today.

From polka dots to stripes to festive patterns, bow ties come in all sorts of bright colours and styles making it an easy way to stand out in a crowd. What was once a fancy way of keeping the top of your shirt closed is now seen by many as a confident way of displaying one’s individuality.

Now that you’re all no doubt pining to learn more about this fascinating fashion accessory, allow me to give you a brief tutorial on how to properly tie a bow tie. Be warned that tying a bow tie is not for the easily frustrated. It requires time, practice and a healthy dose of patience. Just remember that if looking this cool was easy, everyone would do it.

Start with the bow tie lying around your neck. Adjust the bow tie so the right side is shorter than the left. To keep this simple we will refer to the long side as A and the short side as B.

Move A to the right, across B.

Bring A under B and up through the neck loop and toss it on to your shoulder.

Fold B to the left and then back towards the right to create the bow shape.

Bring A down across the middle of the bow shape.

Fold the bow shape made with B and pinch together the two ends.

Bring A to the left and fold at wide part closest to the knot.

Gently push the fold in A through the gap between the bow shape and the knot.

Carefully pull the folded part of A through until A is equally on both sides of the gap.

Tighten the knot by pulling on the front left and rear right halves of the bow tie then alternate by pulling on the front right and rear left halves.

Adjust until balanced.