If you’re a fan of old westerns, American Indian silversmithing, the Rockabilly movement, or Texas, you’re probably familiar with the bolo tie. For those of you who don’t know, the bolo tie is that strange shoelace looking contraption that is worn around the neck and made tighter or looser by a pendant or buckle.
The bolo tie originated in the 1940’s, and was born when Arizona silversmith, Victor Cedarstaff removed the silver trimmed band from around his hat (for fear of losing it), and wore it around his neck. After positive comments from friends, Cedarstaff went on to create more of these ties, calling them “bola” after Argentine “boleadoras,” which are lasso-like hunting weapons. Since then, the bolo tie has become the “official neckwear” of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
So how does one wear such an accessory without looking like a Republican senator or Woody? It’s all in the details my friends. For starters, vintage is key. Whether it’s your grandfather’s, something you found at Goodwill, or a one-of-a-kind antique, second-hand bolos are the way to go. With vintage, you’ll find interesting, worn pieces that don’t have that brilliant silver shine (you do not want to fall into bling territory). I would also recommend sticking with ties that are smaller and simpler with turquoise details, as they give off a more modern feel.
As for what to wear with your bolo, the opportunities are endless. For ladies, try wearing one with a sleeveless collared shirt and shorts, or for a 70’s vibe, wear it with a flow-y dress or shirt amongst a pile of other necklaces. For gentleman, I suggest a plaid or subtly patterned shirt (avoid any American Indian or southwestern inspired patterns, unless you’re trying to look like a cowboy). Another option for men: pull the pendant down so the strings are shorter, and wear it with a smaller necklace, and a t-shirt or tank top.
The bolo tie is one of the most versatile accessories, and can add a touch of nostalgia to any outfit, whether you’re going for a southwestern inspired look or channeling Elvis in his Rockabilly days. Just be sure to leave the Stetson at home.
~ Jenni Zellner | @Jenni8Z