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Take a bow: The celeb-approved guide to wearing the exaggerated bow

If there was one detail that made a splash at Cannes this year, it was big, exaggerated bow trend. From Deepika Padukone’s floor-grazing Peter Dundas gown accentuated with a massive black satin bow to Sonam Kapoor’s blue Elie Saab number with a pussy bow to Diana Penty’s most fashion-forward look this year – the beige bow with black trousers – big knots are clearly holding up among celebrities. 

It’s an SS ’19 favourite, but the exaggerated bow trend has been making a mark since the start of the year. Having graduated from being a part of formal menswear to becoming one of the most experimented sartorial choices this year, it has gotten nods from leading fashion fixtures like Julianne Moore, Heidi Klum, and Eva Longoria. And how can we forget Olivia Coleman receiving her Best Actress Oscar in a Prada gown featuring an embellished bow at the back?

Bows, however, have always been an inseparable part of fashion’s vocabulary. There was Catherine Deneuve’s 1962 black YSL dress with an oversized bow, Audrey Hepburn’s striped versions from her 1964 film ‘My Fair Lady’, and Jacqueline Kennedy’s famous marigold ball skirt with a bow belt. So if you feel like you want to try the exaggerated bow trend out, here are a few tips which will help you experiment right.

Pairing bows with dresses 
Alex Wek in Emilia Wickstead giving us cues on how to wear bows. Image: Courtesy Getty
Alex Wek in Emilia Wickstead. Image: Courtesy Getty

One might be intimidated when it comes to pairing bows with dresses but don’t fret – the red carpet has been full of references. Take cues from supermodel Alek Wek who slipped into a black Emilia Wickstead black mini dress with a fuchsia pink outsized puffy bow at the British Fashion Awards, or Dua Lipa who opted for an all-blue strapless number with a big bow on the cleavage. Hedi Slimane’s take on Celine is punctuated with all things short and sexy – his polka dot dress was everything – followed by Anthony Vaccarello’s star-spangled blue velvet dress which garnered positive reviews from his SS ’19 show. 


Ensure that your dress is sleek, and let the bow do the talking. Also, veer away from heavy fabrics such as velvet. Ensure that the fall of the dress and the bow comes together as a look. Do not opt for a head-to-toe prints/pattern look. 

Bows on shirts/ blouses
Awkwafina in Armani giving us cues on how to wear bows. Image: Courtesy Getty
Awkwafina in Armani. Image: Courtesy Getty

Bows on shirts are the easiest way to start with the trend. Rapper Awkwafina schooled us on how to do it at the Oscar red carpet in a pink Giorgio Armani ensemble. Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele have time and again registered their love for the trend, and their SS’19 shows had a variety of bow renditions on shirts. In New York, Marc Jacobs too rolled out bow ensembles in different metallic tones. 


Though bows on shirts have acquired a formal status, there is always scope for fun. Besides the classic pussy bow blouses with a pair of jeans, you can always pick shirts in an array of prints. From traditional paisleys and ditsy florals to daring graphic prints, ensure that your shirt remains the hero piece of the look. Also, a sleek skirt with a pussy bow blouse is never a bad idea. 

Gowns with bows 
Alison Brie In Miu Miu giving us cues on how to wear bows . Image: Courtesy Getty
Alison Brie In Miu Miu. Image: Courtesy Getty

Right from Viola Davis’ BAFTA red carpet look in an Armani Prive gown to Alison Brie’s statement bow paired with her Miu Miu gown at the SAG Award to Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent at the Paris premiere of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, the red carpet has been packed with this haute trend. Design mavens from Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino, to Erdem Moralioglu to Miuccia Prada have also reinterpreted this trend into big oversized bows. 


One of the easiest ways to incorporate a big bow in your gown is to tie it around your waist or back. Also just in case you want to make a statement, pick up gowns with bows on their shoulders – take cues from couturier Giambattista Valli and Georges Chakra. 

Bows on accessories 
Poppy Delevingne giving us cues on how to wear bows at Emmys. Image: Courtesy Getty
Poppy Delevingne at Emmys. Image: Courtesy Getty

Even though the trend of wearing bows on hair might be age-old, labels such as Emilia Wickstead, Miuccia Prada, and Rodarte have repetitively experimented with them as hair accessories. Also following the trend are the likes of Poppy Delevingne and Kate Middleton on the red carpets. Bows have also become a part of statement footwear – Saint Laurent with his dual toned bow-wedge heels, Marc Jacobs with his patent blue bows slingbacks, and Peter Pilotto with his bow ankle strap heels. Big bows have also registered a strong presence as belts, thanks to Marc Jacobs, Fendi, and Moschino. 


In case you are opting for any accessory with a bow, go minimal with the rest of the outfit. Let your statement piece do the talking. 

Take a bow: The celeb-approved guide to wearing the exaggerated bow

Anupam Dabral

Sr. Associate Editor

It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

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