The invitation says 'Black Tie' – and yes, this does mean a shirt and bow tie. Learning how to tie a bow tie has been a rite of passage for generations of smart dressers. But rest assured, it's easier than you may have been led to believe. At Charles Tyrwhitt, we've guided countless gents through their first knotty negotiations.

We're not purists about how and where to wear bow ties – there's definitely a place for ready-tied styles, and a suit and bow tie offers a dapper alternative for businesswear. However, if you want that classic distinguished look for a formal occasion, a self-tie bow provides an extra-refined finish. And of course, you can undo the knot towards the end of the evening, to channel artfully dishevelled Casino Royale style...

Here's the Charles Tyrwhitt guide on how to make a bow tie.

Step 1

Place the bow tie around your neck, with one side hanging down at least two inches longer than the other.

Step 2

Cross the longer end over the front of the short end.

Step 3

Pull it up through the gap between the tie and the neck – forming a loose knot – and then pull both ends tight. Place the longer end of the bow over your shoulder.

Step 4

Lift the hanging end and fold it in half over your index finger, at the widest part of the bowed shape.

Step 5

Place this on top of the knot at the neck, then hold it in place.

Step 6

Return to the end that you slung over your shoulder, and drape it over the skinny centre of the first bow.

Step 7

This is the fiddly bit (but you've got this). Holding the draped end in place, take both sides of the first bow with your free hand and pull gently forward. From the side, you can now see a small loop between the first bow and the collar.

Step 8

Almost there. Take the draped end of the bow tie and fold it along the widest part of the bow tie.

Step 9

Tuck the fold through the small loop behind the first bow, then pull this halfway through to form the second bow.

Step 10

You should now be able to see your bow tie coming together. Tighten your tie using the opposing front and back sides of each bow to complete it. Carefully adjust it as you tighten it for a comfortable fit and a neat finish.

And there you have it – you've mastered this distinguished style. Just one practical tip: practise how to tie a dickie bow well ahead of the event (and have a handy ready-tied option in your tuxedo pocket just in case). For some formal occasions, you might prefer to try a Windsor knot [link] or tie a Half Windsor [link]. However, when it comes to black tie events, the best tie is undoubtedly bowed. To find out more about capturing that sharp evening wear look, take a look at our guide to how to dress for a dinner party . Complete your black tie outfit with other items from our dapper collection, from dinner jackets to cuff links, silky pocket squares to polished shoes.