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Bow ties not just for nerds now

Get look: The plaid bow tie worn by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. $15

Get the look: The plaid bow tie worn by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. $15 at

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Updated: August 12, 2012 6:07AM

Fashion is wickedly perverse, and the bow tie is no longer the nerdy accoutrement it once was. Suddenly, sporting one is cool and trendy.

Hipsters, teens and 20-somethings, sports figures and entrepreneurs are all embracing the bow tie with a wink and a nod. Urban music artists Kanye West and Chris Brown and country artist Keifer Thompson of Thompson Square have been spotted wearing the accessory — and looking dapper and sexy in the process.

Mason Jones, 29, is a walking poster child for the anti-nerd, bow-tie-wearing businessman. A young entrepreneur, the former law school student promised his mom he would finish school and pass the bar before he started working full time on what started out as a side job — making and selling apparel, including bow ties.

Jones, who wore bow ties in college, started making belts, with help from another law student, and continued working toward a law degree. After graduation, he bought out his partner and continued to work at building his company, Volunteer Traditions.

Of all of the merchandise that Volunteer Traditions offers, from thermal tumblers to baseball caps and T-shirts, the bow tie is one of the most popular, according to Jones. And mainly with the younger crowd.

“I get calls from mothers who want to know what kind of business we are. They’ll tell me they got a charge on their credit card to my company and don’t know what for. I ask them if they have a college or high school teenager. That usually solves the mystery,” laughs Jones.

But Jones has over 30-somethings, mostly professionals, who wear the bow ties, and he believes the business community is embracing them as a way to step out of the box.

“We have one father and son duo who are attorneys who are big customers. It’s not just college kids, but they are a big part of it,” says Jones.

Jones laughs when asked if he can tie a bow tie.

“I can’t tie a regular necktie, but I can tie a bow tie in the dark.”

Designer Otis James, 28, believes that wearing a bow tie is a form of “intentional fashion” for men.

The lanky James, who says he wears mostly clothes from Goodwill and “stuff people give me,” has a decidedly vintage aesthetic, wearing high-waisted trousers with a slightly rumpled shirt and bow tie.

The same fashion sense, elegant without really trying, is also evident in his collection of bow ties and hats from his design company, Otis James Nashville.

“It takes confidence to wear a bow tie. For men that are interested in expressive clothing, the bow tie is a conscious decision,” says James, who hand-stitches each bow and necktie in his studio .

For James, the uptick in popularity for the bow tie has been noticeable over the past year.

“I don’t really follow trends, so I don’t know why it is happening. But I am selling more bow ties now than ever.”

For Jaye Levin, 36, manager of interactive marketing for the Nashville Predators, the bow tie has become a marketing tool — and a lucky charm.

When the team was on a winning streak and Levin showed up at games sans bow tie, superstitious staff and fans urged him to tie one on. “It started out as a marketing idea, but now I love wearing them. It feels good to have the confidence to carry off a bow tie.”

Gannett News Service

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