My friend asked me to write about my experiences with Bow Ties in Paris. In all honesty, I have only encountered two other people wearing bow ties in the city. It could be that bow tie translated in French is “nœud papillon,” and I still have difficulty pronouncing it.
The first meeting of another bow tie was on the Metro line 2. I was sitting down reading La Reine Margot, I got on at Ménilmontant and luckily enough found a seat. As the train progressed further, we came to the Stalingrad stop. I use my thumb as a placeholder as I glance up from the page to verify the stop. As I look up, I see an older gentleman, probably in his mid 50’s looking at me with an odd smile on his face. He is also wearing a bow tie and I assume that is the reason for his peculiar smile. As quickly as he had smiled, he suddenly darted his eyes to another position on the train so as not to make direct eye contact with me. As he was in a suit and carrying a briefcase, I can only assume he is a local Parisian and not a tourist on holiday. He was about 20 feet away from me on the train so I couldn’t make out great detail on his bow tie, all I can verify is that it was royal blue with some smaller design on it.
The second instance of seeing a bow tie was much less exciting. I was walking to meet friends one night around 8pm and as I was walking down the street a group of 3 guys and 2 women walked my direction. I notice that one of the guys was wearing a bow tie. From a distance of about 10 feet away I could tell his was cheap and was absolutely not a self tie. The quality looked so poor on it, that I assume it was just a bow with and elastic band to place around ones neck. As I approach closer I see that it is a horrid shade of green and was shiny, almost as if it were plastic. Horrible images of Saint Patrick’s day from the NYU area near Washington Square Park start to pop up in my head. So many drunken college kids wearing green hats, vest and bow ties, slurring their speeches and throwing up in the streets. He looked at me in the eyes and then tugs on his bow tie as if to adjust it, almost as if to nod that we are in some sort of fraternal club. No sir. I pay no attention to him and continue on my way to meet my friends. As this guy was younger and it was later at night I had no idea if he was local or not. I assumed he was not. I give more credit to Parisians.
I have seen a number of stores and window displays all around Paris with bow ties. One shop had a nice selection of modest bow ties for 45 euros, none of them were so exciting I felt compelled to buy one however. Another smaller men’s shop, a few blocks off of Boulevard Saint-Germain, was charging 110 euros. To be fair though, each bow tie was made in-house of beautiful patterns on 100% silk, and each one is strictly one of a kind. It was much more difficult to walk out of this shop.
As far as when it comes to me wearing bow ties. I do not do it to be cool or to stand out or be part of some weird boys club. I have more respect for myself than that. I like wearing bow ties because it requires learning the technique to tie them. I like putting forth an effort in to my appearance, and not many people have bothered to learn the art of tying bow ties.
When I was living in New York city I passed maybe 1 or 2 other bow tie wearers a week. As a major fashion city, I expected as much. Most of the time, these tie wearers were at the gay bars, but sometimes I would cross a path with an older gentlemen on the subway or the street who wore them. Paris is indeed a fashion capital, but I find neckwear is somewhat limited to neck ties and scarfs, if even that. Although visual displays may include bow ties, they do not appear to be a common street trend.
I have received a number of compliments, mostly from older women, on my wearing a bow tie. I really appreciate the fact that these individuals went out of their way to approach me and complement my ties. Perhaps it is the Bow Tie that makes me more approachable. Every week that I have been in Paris, sometimes daily, I am stopped and asked directions or for a recommendation on where to eat. Maybe it is my bow tie that softens my appearance and welcomes people to approach me. Either way, it just adds to the charm and my overall experience in Paris.
Habille bien mes chers amis!❤🇫🇷