Most of you already know the following, but for those who do not, let's spend a brief moment on the basic, classic bow shapes:
The four on the left are versions of the most common shape: the thistle
, or butterfly
. These two terms often are mixed, but generally, a butterfly will refer to the versions of thistles with the widest blades or wings. So, for the pedantic, the left two are butterflies, the middle two thistles.
Note that the ends can be pointed (a.k.a., diamond) or straight. When an end is pointed, one side of the bow will have the point peaking out from behind the fold, while the other point is in front.
The asymmetry that points produce is especially dÃ©gagÃ©.
The two ties on the right are batwings
. This does not refer to the disturbingly aerial mammal and its means of flight, but to the shape of crickett bats:
Narrow batwings are particularly associated with Ivy style...the one on the right is my own made in England bow that I bought from the old Brooks back in 1979. Because batwings have no obvious centerpoint for the knot, they easily allow for an unfussy knot (which when you go bow, you might as well do since if you aim is to look smart during the day a FIH is best.)
Charvet still carries an iconic shape that it designed for Edward VII/Duke of Windsor which is the wide batwing like the second from the right, but with a bit of a thistle shape through the center.
Like the thistles pictured, batwings can also have points.