Is It OK To Wear A Bow Tie In A Professional Setting?

Is It OK To Wear A Bow Tie In A Professional Setting?

Are bow ties business professional? To us here at R. Hanauer, the answer is: of course. But we wear a bow tie most everywhere and recognize that we may be a bit... biased. Zooming out from personal preference however, the answer is: it depends. 

Let’s get into the criteria for deciding whether wearing a bow tie to work is right for you.

Are Bow Ties OK For Your Profession?

To ascertain if your profession will perceive a bow tie as acceptable, consider your industry, company culture, and dress code. 

If your profession is considered “white collar” – meaning your work primarily takes place in an office environment – neckwear may be required in accordance with dress code, or expected, in keeping with company culture. And where neckties are commonplace, bow ties will likely make an appearance too.

Examples of these professions include finance, software, sales, law, and medicine. Conservative companies may deem the bow tie to be too fancy or flashy, whereas companies that foster a more creative or casual environment may welcome the bow tie (and other forms of self-expression). 

Are bow ties professional

In contrast, “blue collar” jobs are those that involve manual labor. Examples here include construction workers, plumbers, mechanics, and electricians. A shirt and necktie or bow tie would likely be too restrictive, uncomfortable, and even dangerous – plus, you may expect to sweat or get a bit dirty in these professions.

That said, those in management in these industries may fall into the white collar category. Both the culture and dress code will be different depending on what position you hold. 

If you’re unsure of what to wear to a new job or if you’re promoted into a new position, talk with someone in Human Resources. You can also consult your employee handbook, ask a peer, or even check out company photos on social media.

In the event wearing a bow tie in week one is a source of anxiety, plan to wear a necktie instead; you’ll soon have the lay of the land. 

Should Doctors Wear Bow Ties?

It's common for doctors to wear bow ties – pediatricians especially.

People in medicine want to look professional, but are often forced to succumb to practicality. A necktie and a stethoscope together are a bit of a cumbersome mix - and mischievous pediatric patients are likely tempted to playfully tug at a necktie. So the bow tie stays out of the way - and away from free-flying germs!

pediatrician wearing a bow tie

In either scenario, a doctor is more likely than their counterparts in other professions to wear a novelty, themed, or colorful bow tie.

As a conversation starter, a bow tie may also be *just* the thing a doctor and patient need to break the ice and bond over. Nervous patients of any age tend to respond well when their caregiver is approachable and down-to-earth. 

Should Lawyers Wear Bow Ties?

The legal profession is perhaps most loyal to the bow tie. In fact, so many successful lawyers and judges opt for a distinguished bow tie over a necktie that it’s somewhat expected.

The bow tie is considered, deliberate, and sophisticated – all attributes you want to convey in the courtroom. You might even say a lawyer’s bow tie is equal parts sartorial elegance and strategy.

Those in the legal profession are likely to gravitate toward classic prints like  stripes, paisleys and pines, tartans, collegiate patterns, and regimental pieces.

Lawyers are also more likely to opt for darker, more powerful colors to visually convey dominance and authority. 

More Than Words: Color Story

The colors you wear in the workplace matter. Consider these generally accepted interpretations of what different colors convey: 

  • Red - passion, importance, and dominance (top choice for the power tie) 
  • Orange - energy, vitality, creativity
  • Yellow - hope, happiness, permanence 
  • Green - growth, renewal, abundance
  • Blue - reliability, trustworthiness, and patriotism (a favorite of American politicians)
  • Purple - imagination, romance, wealth, royalty 
  • Pink - strength, creativity, balance, calm 

Man wearing a bow tie to an interview

Is A Bow Tie Appropriate For An Interview?

As a general rule, no, you should not wear a bow tie for an interview. Wearing a bow tie could work against you. Why? Here are a few reasons: 

  • Don’t upstage yourself! Let your credentials and personality shine; an out-of-place bowtie has the potential to distract.

  • Don’t outdress your interviewer. Being more formal than your interviewer may make for an awkward interview. (Although, better to be overdressed than underdressed!) 

  • Show you’re cognizant. If it’s obvious that bow ties are not the norm, you may come across as a poor cultural fit, or someone who doesn’t take heed of details. 

  • And also … be yourself. If wearing a bow tie is part of your signature look, wear one! If you are confident about the general acceptability of a bow tie in your industry and you have some insight into the company culture and dress code, then perhaps a bow tie is exactly what you should wear for a particular interview.

Curious if it's ok to wear to wear bow tie at other occasions? Read our articles on:

What fine accessories do you wear (or wish you could wear!) to work? Show us your favorite #RHanauer ties and bow ties – we’re on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube