Bow ties are often considered a very difficult accessory to pull off, but they are not as tricky as they seem. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
They are a great complement that can elevate your style, help you express your personality through your look and bring attention to the outfit. In the past, bow ties used to be a symbol of elegance and distinction, and they were reserved for formal celebrations only, such as weddings or black tie events.
Nonetheless, over time they have become an accessory perfect for casualwear too and nowadays they are also appropriate for less formal occasions, like attending university or a concert, going out with friends, and even going on a date.
Today, bow ties can be fun, youthful and modern, allowing you to get creative and take a break from always wearing a tie. Not many men take advantage of bow ties and there are a lot of reasons why you should include them in your wardrobe. Even the great Frank Sinatra and the legendary 007 agent used to wear them!
Following, you will find when it is appropriate to wear bow ties and how to do so.
When to wear a bow tie
In order to properly combine a bow tie with your clothing, you need to establish where you are going. As we said, currently bow ties are appropriate for both formal and informal events, but the way you choose to style them will depend on where you are going.
One thing is for sure, no matter if it is casual or formal attire, you will definitely catch other people’s attention. Unless the requested dress code doesn’t allow it, you can always wear a bow tie.
In fact, if you have a monochrome closet and you are looking to spice things up 一but you don’t know how一, eye-catching bow ties can actually be a great addition to your wardrobe. For both summer and winter looks. By the way, if you are struggling, this is how to tie a bow tie step by step.
Informal outfit inspiration
When it comes to informal occasions, bow ties can actually be more comfortable and practical than traditional neckties. And the great thing is that they pair well with a suit or casualwear too. Bow ties are far more versatile than you think.
Let’s say you are going to the office and it’s breezy outside. You want to start with beige dress pants and a pair of ankle boots in a darker brown shade. For the upper body, you can go for a checked blue shirt and a navy blue, V-neck sweater on top. To finish the outfit, you can add a red bow tie and a brown leather satchel bag, and you are ready to go.
If it is actually much colder, you can add a wool blazer on top, together with a knitted scarf. If the weather isn’t that cold, you can ditch the sweater, substitute it for a waistcoat and roll up your sleeves for a hipster look. You might want to change your leather boots for a pair of loafers too.
A relaxed, summer outfit for spending the day with friends includes a pair of neutral chinos and a white button down shirt. Add a denim jacket on top and your favourite pair of sneakers on your feet, along with a printed, fun bow tie to complete the look. This way you can have a casual, yet interesting outfit with little to no effort thanks to this versatile accessory.
As you can see, bow ties don’t have to be saved only for formal events. You can wear them for work, for university, for a date or even on weekends with friends. It doesn’t matter if it is cold, warm, day, night, formal or casual.
One more thing, it’s important that you pay attention to fabrics: when it comes to casualwear, cotton or linen bow ties are the best options.
Formal outfit inspiration
At black tie events, the dress code requires you to wear a tuxedo, which is usually in the black and white color palette. Speaking of which, these are the commandments to wear a tuxedo.
The most elegant option you can choose for this occasion is a black silk bow tie, while a wool alternative is also a classic. However, if you are looking for a hint of charm and individuality, then you can go for a more creative design, when it comes to shape and fabric.
For example, instead of the traditional shape, you can opt for unusual one一like a “winged” bow tie一 for a different, unique approach.
If you want to go one step further, you can also add a small gold or silver stud in the corner of the bow tie. These days you can also find other metal accessories that you can attach to it, like subtle gold chains that go over the centre of the bow. The style remains sophisticated and classy, yet you add an additional layer of personality and distinction to the look.
These are delicate details that can set you apart from the rest, especially when you know for sure that everyone will be looking pretty much the same with similar tuxedos.
On the other hand, other formal events like weddings allow you to be slightly more playful with prints, colors and textures. For example, tweed bow ties have become quite popular in the last few years, along with pale shades. You should try to match the color of your bow tie with one of the other pieces you are wearing, in order to maintain a balance in the overall look.
Pro tip: if you are attending the wedding with your partner, the color of your bow tie could have a nod to what they are wearing, whether it is the dress or an accessory.
If you would like to learn more about formal attire, you can start by reading about the cocktail dress code for men.