What to Wear with a Bow Tie
Neckwear is only one part of a man’s outfit and wardrobe. While a bow tie can certainly serve as an outfit’s focal point, there are several other clothing items to consider.
One thing to remember is to gauge how much emphasis is suitable for a bow tie in comparison to the other outfit elements. If the rest of the outfit follows solid and conservative colors, patterns, and styles, then feel free to wear a tie with some flair — let it pop. However, if another article of clothing — like a jacket with a bold pattern, a stylish hat, fancy shoes, an extravagant pocket square, meaningful cuff links, etc. — is the statement piece, let that stand out instead. While this blog is devoted to bow tie fanaticism, devotion to other aspects of men’s fashion is not only understood but celebrated by this site. Thus, unless the tie coordinates with the desired statement piece, steer clear of outfits with more than one element screaming for attention.
Concerning the picture to the left, this outfit works. The bow tie’s color and pattern aren’t crazy, and it coordinates nicely with the pocket square. The jacket — with its pattern — is the most dominant element. The tie, while still very visible, doesn’t conflict or compete too much for attention with the jacket. The black vest (a wise inclusion) also provides a strong color base for the jacket’s pattern, and that helps this bold outfit seem more cohesive making the gestalt more meaningful than the sum of its parts.
Strut Your Stuff
The cool thing about bow tie devotees is that they’re rugged individualists — which means that if you’re one or want to be one, dip into your confidence to use your own fashion sense to assemble your own outfits. Heck… Even denim jeans can work.
- Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wore a bowler (aka “bowker”) hat.
- Popcorn man Orville Redenbacher, celebrity chef Christopher Kimball, and Matt Smith’s Doctor Who like to wear them with suspenders (or braces).
- Factoid: Suspenders were once considered undergarments; thus, it was considered inappropriate to publicly display them. However, it is now acceptable to show them.
- Influential businessman Jim Rogers likes to wear ties with bold colors like pink and baby blue.
- Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop sports his chin curtain beard.
- Tip: The Aficionado uses frequent trimming and beard wax to prevent his facial hair from fraying his ties.
- Celebrity chef Alton Brown, former American Football (Gridiron) player Dhani Jones, and fictional surgeon Dr. Harding Hooten (played by Alfred Molina) from the TV show Monday Mornings sport plastic frame glasses.
- Former American prexy/dandy Warren G. Harding wore contrast-collared shirts.
- The lovable old man, Carl Fredricksen, from the animated movie Up wears tweed suit coats.
- Mad Men’s Burt Cooper wears pocket squares.
Let’s not forget watches, socks (which come in a variety of patterns and colors), and footwear (why not boots?). With the exception of male strippers like the Chippendales, unless you’re doing a private striptease for your significant other, your choice in underwear and lack of clothing is probably best left private. Just sayin’…
What do I like to wear with my bow ties?
- French cuff shirts with cuff links
- Fedora hats
- Pocket squares
- Plastic frame glasses
One thing I don’t like is wearing bow ties with polo shirts. Sorry, Blaine from Glee.
What do you like to wear with your bow ties?
While you’re thinking, here’s some visual outfit inspiration for your outfit assembling: