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Tie or Bow Tie?

Written by Francesca, Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 in Fashion, The Style Guide

bow-tie-businessman-fashion-manHave you ever gotten ready for an event and not known whether you should wear a tie or a bow tie? Here is all the information you need to make the right decision next time that happens.

When to Wear a Tie

Ties are classic, versatile accessories that are acceptable for almost any occasion that calls for neckwear. The most common exception is formal events that require wearing a tuxedo. The bow tie became standard for such events because they revolve around dinner, and ties easily get into food. Technically, you can still wear a black tie to these occasions, but you may be the only one who does so.

The other time you shouldn’t wear a tie is on a date. A blazer or button-up without a tie shows that you know how to find a good balance between casual and dressy.

When to Wear a Bow Tie

Bow ties are the standard for formal events. However, outside of these, bow ties are actually seen as casual. The current trend is to include them in everyday wear. They can be a fun way to express your personality and experiment with different colors and patterns without being too flashy. They also are great for holiday festivities.

It’s important that the size of the bow is proportionate to your face, or else a too-small or too-big bow will make you look silly. It should also be proportionate to your shirt to avoid leaving too much open space. This is why they tend to work better with patterned shirts than solid ones in casual wear. Otherwise, adding a suit jacket or blazer helps to balance the look. Make sure the shirt and jacket colors go together; it will be more obvious with a bow tie if they don’t.

Other Considerations

Some designs are better suited for either a tie or bow tie.

  • Velvet or piping on outfit = bow tie acceptable
  • Double-breasted or single-button blazer = bow tie preferred
  • Two- or three-button blazer = tie preferred unless for formal event

For semi-formal affairs, either choice is acceptable. It depends on your personal preference, the specific occasion or venue, or sometimes even the taste of your host. No matter what you wear, it should always be self-tied. Pre-tied and clip-ons are only appropriate for children.

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