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The 10 Commandments of the Bolo Tie

  • Kempt Staff


It would seem the bolo tie is poised for a renaissance—between Philip Rivers noticeably wearing one as a good luck charm this past football season, the Grammys and the surprising number of braided-leather strings we saw hanging around fashion week this month.

Really, in the grand scheme of things as menswear continues to mine deeper and deeper into Americana, it was only a matter of time after the rise of the denim dress shirt that the bolo tie would follow suit. And since we’ve got it on good authority we’ll all be wearing bolo ties by year’s end, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide...

Behold, the 10 Commandments of the Bolo Tie...

1. Thou Shall Respect Thy Bolo. Let’s just get this out of the way, because when it comes to the fringe corners of menswear, things can get costume-y. So remember, this is a tie like any other tie—except made of braided leather—and you’re not going to a rodeo. (Unless you are, then all bets are off. Go ahead and wear leather chaps if you must.)

2. But Thou Should Also Respect Decorum. For instance, you wouldn’t get away with waltzing into any boardroom east of the Mississippi with one of these on, so stick with a silk four-in-hand whenever in doubt.

3. Chooseth Thy Medallion Wisely. The slider’s medallion is really the centerpiece to any bolo tie, and we’re partial to a subtle geometric shape—an oval studded in turquoise, a triangle or even an arrowhead. It’s better not to get too ambitious with your first foray into the dark art of the bolo. Consider your first charcoal gray suit, for instance. Leave the gunchecks of the bolo world for later.

4. Thou May Proceed Cautiously. So for the advanced moves, there are bear claws, wolf heads and the like. But always remember commandment number one.

5. Knoweth Thy Roots. The bolo tie has been around a lot longer than any of us. While it’s not part of the traditional cravat family tree, legend has it that one stylish cowboy began wearing his hatband around his neck, and the rest is history.

6. Weareth a Collar When Possible. Like we said before, this is just another tie on your rack, so wear it the way you would something made of silk: on a collared shirt, buttoned up, with the slider drawn tight to where a tie knot would naturally sit. Everything from a button-down to a spread should work, depending on the size of the medallion. And tuck the tips when wearing a sweater—again, like you would any other tie.

7. And a Suit Wouldn’t Hurteth: Please see: Eastwood, Clint. Above.

8. Otherwise, Let Thy Bolo Hang Low. If you’re venturing into more casual bolo territory and not wearing it with a collared shirt, you can let the slider hang a bit lower—but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to keep things as formal as possible.

9. Hence, Thou May Go Full-On Texas Tux. As the old saying goes: when in Texas... That means denim, tails and boots, too. We repeat: when in Texas.

10. Let the Bolo Speaketh for Itself. Enough said.