The Easiest Ways To Tie a Bow on a Dress

The Easiest Ways To Tie a Bow on a Dress

Bows are a functional and fashionable addition to any type of outfit. Dresses are no exception. But you may be wondering, how do I tie this bow without detracting from my dress?


A properly tied bow can level up an outfit, but a miss-tied bow could leave you distracted all day. Bows are part of fashion history, becoming a massive trend in the 1860s and lasting all the way to our future. 
Just in time for New York Fashion Week, I’m here to explain how to tie the perfect bow on a dress and share my favorite dresses featuring daring bows. 


What Are the Different Types of Bows?

Classic Bow

You can never go wrong with the classic bow. No matter where this bow is placed on a dress, it will always look simple yet elegant. The steps to tying a classic bow are relatively simple.

  1. Make sure that the ribbons are even.

  2. Then, tie a knot with the ribbons.

  3. Make a loop on each side of the knot with the ribbons, and then tie those loops together.

  4. This should leave you with a completed classic bow. 


Double Bow

The double bow is a more complicated take on the classic bow. This bow requires more steps and can be tricky to get the hang of. I recommend practicing this bow before implementing it on a dress when you plan to go out. You begin the double bow the same way that you begin the classic bow.

  1. Check that both ribbons are even.

  2. Tie a knot where you would like your bow to be placed.

  3. Now, instead of making a single loop, make one loop and then another right next to it, on both sides of the knot.

  4. This should look like four loops, two on either side of the knot. 

  5. Finally, tie those together to complete the double bow.

  6. Feel confident and rock that bow.


Half Bow

Half bows are a modern take on the bow trend. A half bow can be added to a pair of casual pants or be featured on a piece like the Kiya dress to give it a chic twist.

Tying a half bow is very similar to tying a classic bow.

  1. You begin the same way, tying the ribbons into a knot.

  2. However, you only loop the ribbon on one side of the knot.

  3. Tie the ribbons together again.

  4. This will give you a trendy half bow.



Bow Placement: All My Favorite Options

Shoulder Bows

If the bow on your dress is on the shoulder of the dress, especially delicate shoulder straps, you typically don’t need to worry too much about how neat the bow is. The thicker the straps, though, the more you want to make sure to tie your bow neatly.

A dress with thin straps that tie in a bow is typically more casual. I love to elevate a thin-strapped dress with additions like a long, flowing tulle bow.

Thick straps are the essence of drama but may show flaws more easily. In both scenarios, I’d opt for the classic bow. If I were to head out in a dress with thicker straps, I’d take an extra second or two to make sure that bow was flawless.


Wrap Dress Bow

Wrap dresses tend to be more casual dresses, so I love opting for a classic bow or half bow. A double bow on a wrap dress would likely distract the eye and overpower a simply functional part of the dress. A classic bow on Blanca Pukara's Vestido Misha shows how bows are both function and fashion: it cinches neatly at the waist, creating a lovely silhouette, but it also offers a touch of whimsy. 



Front of Dress Bow

If the bow on your dress is in the front, take extra care when tying it. A bow on the front of a dress is typically the focal point of the ensemble.

You can tie a bow in the center of the dress for a classic style. Or, you can tie it to the side for a modern asymmetrical take on the classic “front of dress” bow, like on the off-the-shoulder Chelsea dress.



Back of Dress Bow

Tying a bow on the back of your dress can be quite tricky, as it’s a hard-to-reach place and even harder to see. There are a couple of solutions to solve this issue. If it’s possible, you could tie the bow before stepping into the dress. I know this usually isn’t a possibility, but it’s worth considering.

Another solution would be to place two mirrors facing each other. When you stand angled in the middle, you can watch your hands tying the bow. However, the easiest solution is to ask someone else to do it for you, if possible. 


What Kind of Material Is Your Dress Made Of?

You must consider what types of materials your dress is made of, not only for washing and care purposes but also for how you style your ensemble. Different materials have different textures and thicknesses, which means you can’t treat them all the same. 



Probably the most popular material used in clothing, cotton is extremely versatile. Any style of bow you tie in cotton turns out looking great. Which bow is best for your cotton dress depends on how formal it is.

For more casual cotton dresses, perhaps try the classic bow. If you want to add some unique expression to your cotton dress, then the half bow is a great way to give the look a contemporary twist. For more formal cotton gowns, the double bow can add to the eloquence without overpowering the outfit.



Silk dresses are some of the most elegant pieces you can find. The smooth, water-like way the fabric drapes across the body gives a silk dress a luxurious look that is sure to turn heads.

For this reason, a double bow is a lovely choice. While you can opt for a classic bow, a double bow adds to the lavish look without overwhelming the eye. 

The half bow can be a risky (but daring) choice with silk. On the one hand, it can be a simple and modern way to add texture to the dress while leaving the silk material as the statement piece. On the other hand, if implemented incorrectly, it could wrinkle the fabric. This is truly a practice-makes-perfect moment.



A cousin to silk, bows on velvet dresses tend to be a unique experience. If the ribbon itself is velvet, I wouldn’t recommend trying a double bow — all of that texture could create a clunky impression.

A classic bow is a safe bet for velvet garments, even if the bow's material is something lighter than velvet. The texture of a velvet dress is already enough of a statement without drawing the eye away with an eccentric type of bow.


Wrapping It All Up in a Bow

Figuring out the ideal way to style a bow on a dress can be challenging.

You can never go wrong with a classic bow, but a double bow adds an extra layer of flair to any dress. The half bow is a great way to add a contemporary twist to an outfit. If you consider where the bow is and what material your garment is made of, this guide will help you decide on the best type of bow for any dress.




Everything You Need To Know About Styling Silk Dresses—There's A Perfect Piece For Each Body Type! | Metro.Style

How to Make a Bow for All Your Wedding Needs | The Knot

1864 | Fashion History Timeline

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