A bow tie can sometimes be an intimidating accessory for many men, and for many, a bow tie is reserved for the most formal of occasions and is often worn with a dinner suit. However, wearing a bow tie is actually much simpler than you might think. It’s actually appropriate to wear a bow tie any time a necktie can be worn, giving you much more freedom when it comes to style.
So, if you’ve been wondering when you can wear a bow tie and how to wear one, here is your ultimate guide.
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Pre-tied vs self-tied
There are a number of different types of bow tie which can make a huge difference depending on how confident you are with them. The main two are pre-tied and self-tied bow ties.
Pre-tied bow ties are ideal if you’re new to wearing this particular style. They come pre-tied with the knot sewn into place, and an adjustable neck strap to ensure you can get it on and off with ease. They often look just as good as a self-tie style, and they are more authentic than the clip-on versions as the bow will never lose its shape.
Self-tied bow ties are the classic option with a natural appearance. While it can be challenging to get it right the first few times, you can also experiment with different styles by tying it a different way each time.
Styles and widths
When wearing your bow tie, it’s important to get the proportion and style right to complete your look. The edges of your bow tie should fall just outside of your eye line, but before the edge of your head. This is important if you want to look like a pro, and it won’t look odd in comparison to the rest of your outfit. After all, a bow tie that is too big may conjure up images of a clown’s outfit.
There are 4 main styles of bow tie; butterfly, batwing, diamond tip and club round. The butterfly shape is the most modern and most popular style. It has a classic look and is perfect for a number of occasions. It is usually around 2.3 inches high and is a completely versatile style.
The batwing bow tie is a slim bow tie, less than 2 inches in height. This is a perfect, subtle style with a straighter shape than the butterfly. With a classic shape, it gives you a great alternative style for formal events.
The diamond point is the most unique, with pointed ends. It has an asymmetrical design which can add a little character to your outfit. The final style, the club round, is the least common and probably the least formal with rounded ends.
When to wear a bow tie
Formal events are the most popular social occasions to wear a bow tie. Weddings and black tie events are ideal for pulling your favourite bow tie out of your wardrobe. Black bow ties are the go-to colour for these events, preferably in silk or satin. White tie events are similar, where you should opt only for a white bow tie and nothing else. Coloured bow ties at these events could diminish your appearance somewhat.
If you have chosen a semi-formal attire for your social event, a bow tie can still be worn. Align yourself with the dress code accordingly, but you may have a little more freedom here in regards to colour and pattern. Just don’t be too liberal or wild in your choices!
Images by Mark Arroyo for MMSCENE