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Tips for Choosing the Right Bow Tie for Your Outfit

This article is a guest post by Randall Hanauer.  He runs family-owned R. Hanauer Bow Ties, founded by his father.  All their ties are hand-cut and sewn in South Carolina.  Visit their website to learn more about their history.

The bow tie is a quintessential part of a true gentleman’s image. Dating back to the Prussian Wars of the 1600s, it has survived the twists and turns of men’s fashion for almost 5 centuries.  Today, we’ll outline the occasions, materials, colors, and patterns to take into account when choosing the right bow tie for your outfit.

Occasion – When to Wear a Bow Tie

Bow tie-friendly occasions include any formal events, such as weddings and religious services, but bow ties are also appropriate in the office. A bow tie is just as suitable as a necktie if you have a white-collar job. Brunches are a very appropriate occasion for a bow tie and jacket as well.

Bright Bows in Warm Seasons, and Warm Bows in Cool Ones  

Pastels and bright colors are appropriate in spring and summer. Warm seasons are the time to bring out bow ties made from materials like linen and cotton because they’re breathable and lightweight. A cotton or linen bow can go with a poplin or seersucker suit, particularly at daytime events, and ideally in light grey, blue, or tan.

All wool or silk and wool blended bows are best in fall and winter because they are visually rich materials are more appropriate in cool and cold weather. In these seasons, a bow can be paired with a dark grey or charcoal suit or a more casual tweed sport coat.

Cotton and Linen are Casual, Silk - Formal

Cotton, wool, and linen bow ties are best for more casual events, while silk is ideal for a formal affair where one would be wearing a dinner jacket or tux. A silk satin bow will enhance your elegance at a formal event. This material contributes greatly to a put-together look because its light sheen complements the silk satin lapels of dinner jackets or tuxedos.

Color – Striking a Balance

The bolder the bow, the less busy your shirt should be, and vice versa. A simpler, solid-color tie adds a nice touch to bolder suits and shirts, while a busy tie lends flair to a muted outfit.

White, Silver, or Black: You Can’t Go Wrong

White, silver, and black are the most popular bow tie colors by far. White is traditionally about as formal as you can get. You would know this if you were familiar with the so-called “white tie” dress code, consisting of a white waistcoat, tailcoat jacket, and – you guessed it – a white bow tie.

When it comes to bow ties, silver is the new black. Elegant and formal, it is very suitable for evening and daytime events alike. Solid black bow ties are the obvious choice when observing the “black tie” dress code, which consists of a classic tux and either a cummerbund or waistcoat. Black is still the most popular choice despite being appropriate only at evening events.  

When to Wear Bright Bows?

Worn well, a green, yellow, or red bow tie can do wonders for your outfit. Brightly colored bow ties make a lasting impression at formal events like daytime weddings. Typically, those bow ties are paired with a handkerchief. You can wear a colorful bow tie with a casual suit and even jeans. A bright or contrasting bow tie will work well with a solid, light or dark color suit. The shirt needs to be a solid color too. Red, green, or pink go perfectly with a crisp white shirt.

Pattern: Busy = Casual

This is the rule of thumb. There is a place for stripes, polka dots, and paisleys, and that place is any casual event. Plaid or striped suits can be pulled off with a single-color pattern bow. Busier bow ties with colorful patterns must be paired with a solid-color suit. Conversely, a solid bow tie could work with a plain suit and a striped or checkered shirt.

Patterned bow ties are popular among bow tie lovers who tend to favor bow ties over neckties for their everyday outfits. Such bow ties are traditionally matched with a blazer, a sports coat, or a casual suit.

The Classiest Accessory Worn Right

Few accessories are quite as classy as the bow tie, and a gentleman makes a bold statement when he decides to wear one. Bow ties are never subtle and reveal a lot about a man’s sense of style and his personality. Every time you don one, you’re one step closer to expressing the real you.

Do you wear bow ties?  Why or why not?  Share in the comments below to receive a 10% discount on any fragrance purchase the next time you visit one of our clubs.

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Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

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