Bow ties come in three basic styles. Pick the one that suits your taste. Better yet, stock up all three.
Butterfly: Also known as the Thistle (turn it sideways and it’ll make sense), this is the most popular style of bow tie at the moment. Untied, it looks like an hourglass (or a thistle flower). Tied, it forms the familiar two-winged shape. Most are 2½ inches at their widest points. You go larger, but only if you’re attending an “American Hustle”- themed party.
Batwing: Think (oh, so British) cricket bat, not the creature that chases bugs through the streetlights. The ends go straight out, no hourglass. You’ll see these in yearbook photos from the ’50s and on the wait staff at Steak ’n Shake. They’re smaller and more discrete than the butterfly. Stay away from red if you don’t want someone asking you for french fries. Keep the tied version no wider than your cheekbones or you’re verging into party clown territory.
Diamond: The classiest bow tie, IMHO. These take the butterfly shape and bring the outer ends of a point. When tied, they have one point in front and one point in back. Nothing says “Downtown Abbey dinner party” like a well-tied diamond.