Bolo tie

Bolo tie

A bolo tie (sometimes bola tie or shoestring necktie) is a type of necktie consisting of a piece of cord or braided leather with decorative metal tips aglets (aiguillettes) secured with an ornamental clasp or slide.

Bolos are easy to make, using attractive flat objects such as lady's pins, coins, plastic netsuke reproductions, polished stones, Christmas tree ornaments, and refrigerator magnets. Cords of leather and cordage stock, clips and tips, called "findings" are widely available from jewelry supply firms.


Bolo tie in use (United States)

In the United States, bolo ties are widely associated with Western wear, and are generally most common in the western areas of the country. Bolo tie slides and tips in silver have been part of Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Puebloan silversmithing traditions since the mid-20th century.[1]

Navajo jewelry on a bolo tie

The bolo tie was made the official neckwear of Arizona in 1971. New Mexico passed a non-binding measure to designate the bolo as the state's official neckwear in 1987. On March 13, 2007, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, signed into law that the bolo tie is now the state's official tie.[2] Also in 2007, the bolo tie was named the official tie of Texas.[3] Politicians and officials from western states will often wear them, such as former Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer.

In the United Kingdom, bolo ties are known as bootlace ties. They were popular with 1950s Teddy Boys, who wore them with drape suits.[4][5]

Along with other 1950s fashions, bolo ties were revived as part of the Rockabilly look in the 1980s. The bolo tie returned as a popular fashion accessory in the fall of 1988 when male Hollywood stars would be frequently found wearing them. Chain stores like Jeanswest and Merry-Go-Round sold multiple choices for all occasions.

During the 1980s and 1990s bolo ties, some elegant and expensive, were sold in Japan, Korea, and China. Some had fancy, hand-made cords, and unusual tips. Sales overseas skyrocketed post-1970s; this was due to the overflow from the United States, where it had fallen out of fashion in the 1980s.[6]

During the 2013 NFL season, San Diego Chargers quarterback, Philip Rivers, captured media attention for his frequent usage of bolo ties. He was noted wearing it again after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013–14 NFL playoffs.[7][8]


Metallurgist Dr. William E. Mangelsdorf of Kingman, Arizona claims to have invented the bolo tie in the late 1940s, and later patented his slide design.[9]

According to an article in Sunset:

Victor Cedarstaff was riding his horse one day when his hat blew off. Wary of losing the silver-trimmed hatband, he slipped it around his neck. His companion joked, "That's a nice-looking tie you're wearing, Vic." An idea incubated, and Cedarstaff soon fashioned the first bola tie (the name is derived from boleadora, an Argentine lariat).[10]

It is also said that the bolo tie is a North American pioneer creation that dates back to between 1866 and 1886. There is a bolo tie on display at a trading post in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico said to date back that far.


  1. Tanner, Clara Lee Ray Manley's Portraits & Turquoise of Southwest Indians. Ray Manley Photography Inc.[Tucson], 1975, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-38328
  2. Richardson's Secret Weapon: The Bolo Tie - The Sleuth
  3. Texas, The Lone Star State: Bola Tie (Bolo Tie)
  4. Cross, Robert: Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-6254-3, p. 36
  5. Ribeiro, Aileen: Dress and Morality, Berg Publishers 2003, ISBN 1-85973-782-X, p. 164
  6. Hochman, Benjamin (January 7, 2014). "Philip Rivers' bolo ties catch eye of Broncos fans, Denver haberdasher". Denver Post. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  7. Summers, Dave (January 7, 2014). "Where Did Philip Rivers Get That Bolo Tie?". NBC San Diego. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  8. Chase, Chris (November 24, 2013). "Philip Rivers makes powerful fashion statement in postgame press conference". For the Win. USA Today. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  9. U.S. Patent number 896217, filed May 24, 1954, issued July 28, 1959, to Victor Emmanual Cedarstaff, online at Google Patents
  10. "Cool under the collar: Arizona's bola ties" by Lawrence W. Cheek, Sunset, April 2002
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