Full-Dress Bow Tie
The white full-dress bow tie is made from cotton piqué (marcella in the UK), the material of choice since the 1930s. It is considered especially smart if the tie is of the same type of piqué as the waistcoat and, if applicable, the shirtfront. The tie is traditionally semi-butterfly or batwing shaped as described in Classic Black-Tie Neckwear.
It should go without saying that a self-tied model is infinitely preferable to a factory-assembled version. If pre-tied neckwear is considered unrefined in a relatively informal office environment then it can only be viewed as downright gauche in the context of an ultra-formal society ball, royal state dinner or Nobel Prize ceremony. White tie may be a virtual uniform but it is a gentleman’s uniform and a gentleman appreciates the human touch of a slightly irregular hand-tied knot compared to the cold perfection of a pre-fabricated contraption.
Adjustable-length models are acceptable although there is a sublime pleasure derived from donning a tie custom sized to fit a man’s own neck and devoid of clasps, hooks and extraneous material.
When tying the tie, keep in mind that formal bow ties are meant to be worn outside the wings of the collar, not tucked behind them.
Finally, unless you are a waiter or a butler you must never wear a black bow tie with a tailcoat. Ever.