The bow tie is a truly versatile piece of fashion. Wear it with a tuxedo and it’s a symbol of high fashion and elegance. You’re a James Bond type, perhaps. But style it another way and suddenly, it’s a symbol for intelligence and maybe a little bit of geekery, too. Think Steve Urkel in Family Matters. Can you wear a bow tie with a suit and still pull off any style you want? Is it fashionable or is it always a mistake to wear these two items together? If you think the bow tie is restricted to black tie only or that it’s just for formal wear, it’s time to learn a lot more about this amazing piece of fashion.
History of the Bow Tie
A bow tie is just a short necktie that is tied into a bow. They come in clip-on and pre tied bow tie versions for those who struggle with creating a bow tie knot, which can be tricky. Otherwise, they’re called self tied bow tie designs. This just means that you tie the knot yourself. When you’re wearing a bow tie as formal attire, you always want a self tie bow tie design.
The origins of the bow tie date to the 1600s. Bow ties really rose to fame in the 1800s and 1900s, when they became a standard look for professional men. They became especially popular with professors and academics, which might be why bow ties are still seen so often in nerd culture today. Bow ties are still considered to be the classic look to wear with tuxedos and formal suits.
The black bow tie is always a classic and it’s not leaving the style scene anytime soon. But if you want to have fun with fashion and play around with different looks and colors, the bow tie is a perfect accessory.
Wearing a Bow Tie with a Suit
Can you wear a bow tie with a suit? Absolutely. In fact, the bow tie is so versatile that it can be worn with any type of suit you like. Gentleman’s Gazette weighed in on the issue, saying “a bow tie looks great with a formal double-breasted suit, it can also work with single-breasted suits and a tweed jacket.”
“For suits, go with navy, black or grey, and for shirts, stick to blues and whites. It’s possible to wear a pinstripe suit with a bow tie, but make sure the stripe is subtle. And make sure the suit and shirt match, since they’ll be more visible than they would be with a regular necktie, which bisects the male torso,” says Business Insider. “Most important is the bow tie itself. Since the rest of your outfit will be conservative, this is the time to make a statement.”
Yes! Wear a bow tie with a suit. This is always a great option and can be swapped out for a neck tie whenever you like. Wear it with all your suits. Learn how to style a bow tie with a suit beautifully and you will always turn heads. Whether it’s the prom, a casual event, whether you’re a groomsman or just someone with a lot of fashion sense, bow tie style will always work.
How Many Bow Ties is Enough Bow Ties?
So, how many bow ties should a well-dressed, stylish person who wants to wear bow ties own? The great thing about bow ties is that they don’t take up a lot of space. They’re also available in every color or pattern you can possibly imagine.
Start your bow tie collection with some ties in basic colors. Red, black, white and blue are a great start. Once you have these basic colored bow tie designs covered, you can play around with polka dots, stripes, patterns and different colors and patterns of all types. There’s truly no limit to the different types of bow ties available.
Bow ties in any color or pattern can be matched to basic, classic suits, such as a navy suit or a black suit. A colorful bow tie is a good way to show some personality and infuse a little of your own personal style into your look.
How to Style a Bow Tie and Suit Combo Like a Pro
You can take your style game to the next level with a bow tie. It can be a classic look, a fashion-forward look, any type of look you want it to be. It all depends on how you style it. Whether you’re tying your own or wearing pre tied bow ties, you want an outfit that’s going to make it look amazing. Bow tie looks can work for everything from casual events to a formal occasion. You can wear them to the classiest black tie event or while you’re out running errands.
Want to get that elegant, upper-crust sort of look but still be somewhat casual and relaxed? Easy. Slip into a button-up dress shirt, a navy blazer and a bow tie. This look works beautifully with matching suit pants, slacks or khaki pants. This is a great casual or semi-formal look that’s perfect for day or evening occasions. It’s a classic look and it’s one that always works. You don’t have to wear a regular tie to create a great casual look.
Want to look like some kind of hot professor? A bowtie makes it easy. Wear your button-down dress shirt with suspenders and a bow tie. This is going to look great with any suit. It’s a perfect casual outfit that’s verging on semi-formal. It looks professional and it gives you that intelligent, professor look that many people find incredibly sexy. This is too dressed down for a formal event but it’s perfect for casual to semi-formal occasions of all kinds.
Some looks aren’t old-fashioned, they’re classic. The difference between being outdated and being classic is all about style. Wear a bow tie with a fitted suit, a crisp white shirt and a vest. A pair of lace-up oxfords and a little of that professional swagger and you’re going to look amazing. Don’t forget a wristwatch, the perfect classic accessory to really put the final glorious touch on this look. This will suit any professional or semi-formal dress code, so you can wear this look lots of places.
You don’t have to be from the South to capture southern style. This look is all about color and charm. Instead of a matching suit, mix and match your pants and your jacket and go for pastels! Pink, blue, purple, cream. Be bold. Wear this with a white shirt and a patterned bow tie. Any pattern will do but polka dots really make this look pop. Pair it with a straw hat and don’t forget the pocket square! When you’re creating a Southern look, it’s the little details that make your style really stand out. Save the formal bow ties for more serious looks. This style is all about being light and bright and ready to have some spring or summer fun…like the kind of person who is a real bow tie wearer!
Tips for Wearing a Bow Tie
Creating great style isn’t as easy as putting on any bow tie with any suit, though sometimes this will work out. Follow a few little style rules and you’re always going to look fashionable and very well put together.
Match your bow tie to your pocket square, if you’re wearing one. The bow tie and pocket square don’t have to be a perfect match, such as solid red pocket squares with solid red bow ties. However, they should go together. If the pocket square has a pattern containing red, it can be matched to a bow tie with a different pattern that contains red or with a solid red bow tie. Mix and match patterns and solids as much as you want, so long as you still have matching colors. If you want to have a lot of color in your suit or shirt, stick to a white bow tie to create a layered, more contrasting look.
Make sure your suit fits. Nothing looks worse than clothing that doesn’t fit your body. As long as your suit is well-tailored and fits you perfectly, you will cut a dashing figure, as the saying goes. This is most important. Build your look around clothing that fits you and you won’t go wrong no matter what colors or items you choose. Even in casual bow tie looks, you need clothing that fits your body perfectly.
Think about white space. With a bow tie that’s only around your neck, there will be a lot of shirt showing. The long tie breaks up the dress shirt more so you want to think about all the “white space” that will be created by your dress shirt. You might want to add a vest to break up the white space, or choose a shirt in a color or a pattern to add more interest to your look and break up that white space. If you’re wearing a single-button suit jacket, definitely consider these tricks to break up all the white dress shirt space.
Play with contrast when you’re feeling bold. Try making a big style statement by wearing a bow tie in a color that contrasts against the suit, your shirt and everything else you have on. This turns the bow tie into the focal point of the outfit, which can actually be an interesting and head-turning look. Have fun with color. That’s what fashion is all about!
Enjoy different textures and fabrics. A velvet bow tie may be a little too unconventional for a black tie dress code but you can have lots of fun playing with this in your everyday style.
Bow Ties and Suits
You can always wear a bow tie with a suit to create an amazing look that will stand out, turn heads and look stylish. In fact, the bow tie look is far more classic than the standard necktie. Have some fun with your fashion and start wearing more bow ties with all your suits.
Bow Tie Guy – Bow Ties With Suits (The Definitive Guide)
MasterClass – How to Wear a Bow Tie: 4 Types of Bow Ties