“The bolo [tie has] never really gone out of style” (1)
It “has been part of more fashion movements than we can count” (3)
It remains popular in the southern states where it originated, it is also regaining popularity in mainstream and queer fashion (2). Especially considering the increased acceptance and complexity of lgbtq2s+ identities and their presentation. More to come on the history in a future blog post!
We value fashion beyond identity. It’s a way of finding our people. And as Dapper Q puts it, fashion is a form of “visual activism” (4).
Regardless of how you identify, this is your fun guide on how to incorporate a bolo into your wardrobe!
If you’ve got a bolo (or have your eye on one) you are probably the type of person who doesn't need a lot of style help, BUT who isn’t looking to:
-embrace our identity
-live our identity authentically
-define our style without limits
-escape the ordinary
-have the exhilaration of an amazing outfit
This is for you.
WHAT IS A BOLO TIE?
A bolo tie is a type of necktie with decorative tips on a cord, secured by an ornamental clasp or slide (5).
WHY I DESIGNED A BOLO TIE
As an invisible femme, I was desperate for visibility. I shaved off my long hair, bound my chest, and quit make-up. But I didn’t feel like me.
Gaining visibility wasn’t worth losing an important part of my identity. Ever since I was young and deep down at my core, I am femme. Sometimes even hyper femme.
As I slowly grew my hair back, I started Lord Violet, and began to rediscover that femininity.
Accessorizing is now part of my daily routine. Anyone who knows me will tell you; I wear jewelry to the grocery store, post office, work. Everywhere.
THE STORY BEHIND THEIR CREATION
I never thought I would wear a bolo, but that all changed when I accidentally designed one.
I put it on, and slid it up under my collar. I felt handsome, yet feminine at the same time. It was an androgynous accessory that felt more like jewelry.
Suddenly, I felt the ultimate freedom. It allowed me to accessorize and was associated with a queer identity.
What’s funny is that I’m from Alberta, and never thought specifically of designing a bolo. Cowboy culture is ever present, especially around Calgary stampede, but not something I necessarily want to be associated with. But a bolo is really the essence of prairie culture.
However, I had forgotten the bolos presence and history in queer culture.
Paired with a button up shirt or dress, nothing says prairie queer like an adjustable bolo tie necklace.
The bolo is now a regular part of my wardrobe. I have probably 6 or 7 of them. It sets me apart because it’s a statement piece that expresses multiple aspects of my sexuality.
“It’s a classic style that can tie together any outfit”. See what I did there ;)
So what was kiiiind of an accident, feels almost too perfect. A queer femme with an androgynous accessory. What started out simple is now a staple part of my line, one of my CULT CLASSICS, a favorite of the Lord Violet community.
I was inspired by a myriad of pieces from my fav artists- Karma Victoria, Oaks Aesthetics (plugs), and Alchemilla.
I discovered Alchemilla at a super cute store in Olympia, on tour with my band TEETH. One of her necklaces had a beautiful brass medallion.
One day surfing around Etsy for supplies, I found a similar medallion and bought a couple just to experiment with. But the big brass medallion did not work as a pendant. A small hole in the middle, however, was perfect for stringing through a chain.
And here the first bolo was born, hello TROLLOP.
TROLLOP Large Bolo Tie
It has now expanded to a whole line of bolos, with a new design for each new collection.
What I thought was something just for me, became a bestseller at my first market, with all types of people buying them. Women, men for themselves, men for their girlfriends, queer and straight alike.
HOW I DESIGNED MY BOLO TIES
You probably want to know, what is different about my bolo ties?
Lord Violet bolo ties are a modern spin on the traditional western accessory.
The design is one of a kind and unique in style, using chain, instead of leather cord. The use of chain instead of leather cord also makes them vegan friendly.
Using chain opens up a whole realm of options for the ornamental slide and bolo tips that can adorn it.
The chain also balances the androgyny of this accessory and the femininity of jewelry!
So here we are to finally answer the question, how do you rock a bolo tie?!!
HOW TO WEAR A BOLO TIE 3 WAYS:
Dress up your collar or complete a look with a bolo tie necklace!! There are many ways to wear a bolo.
The versatility of the bolo tie renders it the ultimate accessory for all genders. It is timeless in style, making it a staple in your wardrobe for years to come.
Whether you go with the classic, western, or casual look, a bolo takes your outfit to the next level.
They are easy to wear but still distinctive, for those of you looking to highlight your individual style.
-For the classic look, the bolo tie is worn with a collared shirt, buttoned all the way up to the top button, with the bolo cinched right up underneath the collar.
-Wear it the same way with a turtleneck- cinched snugly around it.
-Wear it with a collared dress for my favorite adaption of this look
-In this sense it is worn like a traditional tie (necktie) and dresses up formal wear
- have it match or compliment the rest of your attire
- choose the right length- it should fall 4” below breast bone
- rock it!!
Where: formal events
-For the western look, the bolo tie is worn with a button-up collared shirt. This time, the shirt is worn open, buttoned up mid way. Cinch the bolo to the same height.
-Ideal with a western style shirt!
Casual or Modern:
-For a more modern look, the bolo tie is slid up mid way with practically any garment! Even a T-shirt or my favorite, a dress.
-In this case it is worn more like a necklace, where Lord Violet bolos come in handy!
-Make the bolo a choker, cinching it all the way up with the chain dangling for an edgier look.
Where: social events w/ friends, work, or partiiies!!
A casual look: me sporting the NOIRE Black Bolo Tie!
HOW TO ACCESSORIZE A BOLO IN THE HEAT OF THE SUMMER
- Yes, a silk slip counts as an article of clothing
- Slip on your WILD ROSE bolo and slide the flower up mid way
- Pull back that hair
- Finish with mesh socks + sandals!
A casual look: WILD ROSE Flower Bolo
HOW TO FEMME A BOLO IN THE FALL OR WINTER
- A little dab of gold glitter in the corner of each eye
- Throw on a VELVET blazer
- Button up that blouse to the very top button
- Cinch up the bolo snug under your collar!
A Classic Look: WILD ROSE Flower Bolo
Annd.. here is me, volunteering for Festival Mode & Design last summer in Montréal, with my WILD ROSE bolo!!
My WILD ROSE Bolo selfie!!
I hope you enjoyed this How To guide! Other guides exist, but mine offers a different perspective: that of a queer femme. You are now even more bolo ready regardless of the season or your wardrobe!!
You now know:
A little more about me
The inspiration behind my bolos
And fun ways to wear them
Most important, you are free to be YOU!! Being true to ourselves is a challenge but don’t be afraid!
I look forward to your bolo stylings. Your creativity continually amazes me. I challenge you to keep sharing those killer photos, but this time I want to see your boldest bolo looks. Don't forget to tag @lord_violet and don’t forget the hashtag #lordviolet! And in the comments below, let me know how it feels to let loose.
AND If you enjoyed this guide, please share it with all your other bad-ass buds.
Next month on the blog… the history of bolo ties in queer and western culture.
The Bolo Tie's Artful Ride From Closet To Museum- https://www.npr.org/2011/12/09/143458277/bolo-tie-goes-high-brow-at-arizona-art-exhibit
- How to Wear a Bolo Tie- https://bolotieshop.com/index.php/pages/The-Origin-of-the-Bolo-Tie.html
- Pinto ranch-https://www.pintoranch.com/pinto-post/how-to-wear-a-bolo-tie
- Dapper Q- https://www.dapperq.com/about/
- Bolo Tie- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolo_tie
- How To Wear a Bolo Tie. 3 Ways to Wear a Bolo Tie With Style- https://www.squareupfashions.com/blogs/news/how-to-wear-a-bolo-tie-3-ways-to-wear-a-bolo-tie-with-style