Five Tips for Building a Bow Tie Collection
West Virginia University President Gordon Gee has a rather large bow tie collection with reportedly thousands of neckwear items. I’m not sure if that’s impressive or — yes, even I’m going to say it — excessive. Either way, Gee is a proven devotee.
Whether you aspire to emulate Gee or not, building a bow tie collection isn’t that hard, but there are some things to keep in mind that will help with the process.
1. Coordinate with your wardrobe
One most important things to consider when purchasing any article of clothing is to consider one’s existing wardrobe. Flannel doesn’t go well with plaid. Pink and brown likely won’t play well together. That’s why it is important to have a mental image of one’s wardrobe when buying new clothes. Understanding basic color and pattern coordination isn’t rocket science, and exercising common sense here is very important.
Here’s a pro tip: Build a solid foundation of neutral and classic wardrobe basics. When it comes to business formal and up outfits, acquire a collection of white and blue dress shirts with a mixture of solid and varied patterns. Do the same with slacks, jackets, and suits; build up a collection with widely accepted colors and patterns. You definitely can get some flair pieces, but having a foundation of conservative and neutral pieces will enable you to buy a wide variety of bow ties that will work well with the rest of the outfit. Besides, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to show off the tie, and that means that the other outfit elements shouldn’t scream for attention.
2. Matching isn’t necessary
Remember that not everything has to match. For instance, if you sport some fashion accessories (like hats, lapel pins, and cufflinks), they don’t need to match each other nor one’s tie. They shouldn’t clash — see the tip above, but they don’t need to match. They certainly can, and there are sets of ties and pocket squares that match if one so desires. So, don’t let the colors and patterns of their other outfit elements confine their options.
3. Find a conversation piece
A bow tie can serve as a conversation starter. So, look for ties that have colors and patterns that relate to you. When someone asks about your tie, that opens up an opportunity to share some interesting aspects about your life. Some ways that you can do that is to wear ties with your favorite colors, the colors, mascot, or logo of your alma mater (for example, WVU), symbol of one’s home (like crabs for a Marylander), and a favorite pattern of a loved one like a partner (Winston Churchill paid tribute to his father).
4. Try the different types of bow ties
There are three main types of bow ties — Batwing, Butterfly, and Diamond Point. Butterflies are the most commonly seen. You’ll occasionally see a Diamond Point. I must confess that I haven’t seen a Batwing out in the wild; so those aren’t very common. Either way, chances are that Butterflies make up most of your collection, and adding a Diamond Point will help spice things up. Have fun.
5. Watch the clearance rack
In many cases things you find on the clearance rack are there for a reason; they’re either not very fashionable or are just out there. However, this is an excellent place for the sartorially bold. I’ve found some clothing on clearance. In many cases, I can tell that something has a pattern that is too bold for most other dudes, and if I feel that I can pull off the look, I can enjoy getting something at a good price.
So, I advise you to monitor clearance racks. Most of the time you won’t find anything worth purchasing, but from time to time you’ll find a diamond in the rough.
I consider these five tips when I’m looking to expand my bow tie collection, and I know that they’ll help you as well.