Most men don't tend to compliment other men on their choice of clothing, but I always get an approving word from strangers when I put on a bow tie. I've had men cross a room to compliment my tie. Perhaps they feel I need encouragement.
Bow tie is sometimes pronounced as two distinct words, but often it's said quickly, like necktie. Bow ties are possibly older than neckties, both having evolved from earlier cravat. But style on bow tie remains two words in edited text, while necktie is almost always rendered as one. It seems to have always been that way.
The word cravat seems to be the French version of Hrvat, or Croat in English. It was popularized in France after Croatian soldiers tied scarves around their necks during the Thirty Years War. That was the early 17th century.
The first reference to a bow tie in the Oxford English Dictionary is from an 1897 Sears Catalog. Two years earlier, the quarterly Windsor Magazine of January 1895 has an article, “The Philosophy of Men's Clothes,” which mentions a fashionable color for a bow tie without the need to explain what a bow tie is:
A rather fascinating colour for a bow tie is a combination of dull reds and green, though it is perhaps needless to point out that this combination would not suit everybody.
The same article mentions a butterfly bow, which might have referred to the now-ubiquitous butterfly bow tie, which enjoyed a brief spike in fashion near the end of the 19th century. The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary gives 1890 as the year bow tie first appears.
The word necktie is first attested in the OED in 1838, and all citations give it as one word.
Major dictionaries keep bow tie as two words, although the OED's entry is for bow-tie. Only user-generated dictionaries suggest a one-word bowtie. The single word does get plenty of Google hits (including for trade names) and has increasing use in books, according to the Google Books corpus. But bow tie remains much more likely.