Many men today love wearing bow ties. There is no doubt about that.
The biggest issue for them however, is not so much that they don’t know how to tie a bow tie and what to do with it, but how to actually wear it. Most guys feel discouraged, as they want to wear a bow tie, but don’t have men special occasions to go to where bow ties are required. The good news is that you can wear a casual shirt with a casual bow tie on an everyday basis.
When you are putting an outfit together, always make sure that your overall look has presence. An outfit with presence is an outfit that is complete in the sense that everything is where it should be and fits just right with your body and with the rest of the pieces.
Finding a great shirt and bow tie combination should be quite easy. You can find shirts and bow ties in most men’s clothing stores, but you can also go online in the search for two pieces that will go together great. If you shop online, you can even buy from stores that sell both shirts and bow ties. This way, you will know that if they are from the same brand, the two pieces are most likely to be created in the same aesthetic and will therefore be more cohesive. One such brand is Nick Graham. Named after its founder, Nick Graham offers a series of amazing pieces that mix classic British menswear with what they call “Post-prep” American style, which is a “mix of two parts tradition, two parts attitude and one part pure fun”. We find this idea really great and feel that it does go perfectly with the spirit of the bow tie-loving men. Moreover, what we enjoy about the Nick Graham clothing and accessories line is that they are not only always releasing new things, but that they are also appropriate for both semi-formal events as well as for casual, everyday wear. Having versatile pieces is essential, especially if you are a guy who doesn’t own a big wardrobe. Their pieces can serve as great tools for making amazing casual bow tie-shirt combinations.
However, before talking about how to wear bow ties casually, we must define a few basic bow tie and shirt rules. These are, of course, not unbreakable rules, but if you decide to follow them, you can be sure that you will be making all the right sartorial choices.
Basic bow ties and shirts rules
There are many things to say about shirts, but here are the top things you should know:
The fit of a shirt is crucial. A shirt that fits well is a shirt that touches your body without strangling it. In case the shirt is too loose and feels like a sack, it probably is too big. Moreover, a dress shirt is a shirt that doesn’t feature any pockets. This is the best way to go – always. Shirts with one pocket are very casual and can be worn in very casual settings, while shirts that feature two pockets are considered utilitarian and should only be worn when chopping wood, hiking through the forest or other similar activities.
Also, the collar of a shirt is an important element to check before putting a shirt on. The collar of a shirt should contrast with your facial features. This way, you will have a balanced look. If you have a very round face, you should probably wear a collar that features narrow angles. Someone with a very sharp face can wear a round collar easily. If you wear a collar that has characteristics that are similar to those of your face, it will mimic your features and you will look misbalanced. Also, men with bigger necks can opt for collars that have wider spreads, as these will elongate their necks and make them look more balanced, while men with smaller necks can benefit from wearing rounder collars.
Bow ties follow pretty much the same basic rules as any other accessories, the number one rule being that you need to wear a bow tie that is proportionate to your body size. Bow ties come in three major sizes: big, medium and small. The best way to go, especially if you don’t have much experience with bow ties, is a medium bow tie.
One more thing you should take into consideration when choosing a bow tie is the shine of the piece. Remember that if a bow tie is shiny, it is formal, while matte bow ties are more casual. In case you are going for a casual look, always opt for an opaque bow tie. Also, speaking of casual shirts and bow ties, black and white bow ties are reserved for special occasions only, so if you are planning on wearing a casual bow tie, you should opt for a more colorful one, or even a piece that features a pattern or a print. Bow ties are great ways to add a pop of color to your outfit and to style up your look.
When speaking of tying, there are two types of bow ties. These are: pre-tied or self-tied bow ties. Self-tied bow ties are considered to be more personal, more elegant and more sophisticated, but self-tied bow ties will do the job just as well.
Now that we have established these things, let’s take a look at the ways in which you can add a casual bow tie to your shirt for an everyday outfit.
How to wear casual bow ties with shirts
Two solid colors
Our recommendation is that your bow tie and shirt should be of two different colors. Wearing the same color twice in overlapping layers is quite useless in the case of bow tie-shirt combos.
Of course, one easy way to go is to wear one of your pieces in a neutral color and the other one in a non-neutral color. Neutral colors are colors that go with absolutely any other color. Neutrals are black, white, gray, ivory, tan, khaki, dark blue etc. Any of these colors go with absolutely any other color.
However, if you want to wear two non-neutral colors in this combo, make sure you learn how to create color schemes. Briefly, for a safe bet, you can either go for colors that are close to each other on the color spectrum, such as red and orange or blue and purple, or you can go for colors that are opposites, such as red and blue or green and orange. So, for example, if one of your pieces is a solid red, it goes both with and orange shirt or with a green one.
If you want to get a look that has a lot of dimension and depth, a good idea would be to wear the same color on both pieces, but in different shades. For example, a light shade of purple goes great with a darker shade. This way, it will look as if the outfit has more volume (this does not mean that you will look oversized). This principle is often used in art, when a painter creates the depth of field by using different shades of the same color.
Solid color and print
Another option for your bow tie-shirt combination is to wear one piece in a solid color and the other one in a print.
A pattern always looks amazing if mixed with solid colors, especially if it features, among other colors, the solid color you will be matching it to, or, for a more subtle look, different shades of these colors.
For example, if you are wearing a purple shirt, you can style it up with a bow tie that features a light purple, blue and light green pattern.
Some men are more daring than others and wish to wear a patterned shirt and a patterned bow tie at the same time.
If you want to wear more patterns at the same time, remember that the golden rule is that the two patterns should always be of different sizes. This means that if you are wearing, for example both a bow tie and a tie that feature stripes, one of the pieces should have wide stripes and the other one narrow stripes. This applies to any type of patterns, textures or prints.
The same rule applies if you mix different types of patterns prints and textures. If you want to wear stripes and dots at the same time, it will look best if you wear thick stripes and small dots or vice versa.
Don’t forget: A pattern is a symmetrically repeated construction, a print is an image that features a clear composition and a texture is a pattern that can not only be seen, but felt as well. Always make sure you study the pieces you want to wear and see of what types of lines and color areas they are composed of.
Wearing bow ties and shirts casually can be a great way to create a relaxed, yet elegant and stylish look.
Comfort is key in fashion and we want you to feel and look your best. Make sure you wear your bow tie enough to feel comfortable with it before leaving your house and that your shirt tucks well in your pants.
Following all the guidelines found in this article will ensure you that you are going to have a great sartorial experience when wearing a casual bow tie with a shirt.
Fraquoh and Franchomme
P.S. Do you like wearing casual bow ties with shirts? How do you wear them? Share your thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook or Twitter!