At R. Hanauer, we believe you can wear a bow tie - with a suit, tuxedo or pajamas - on any day that ends in D-A-Y. But we know not everyone is cut from our family’s cloth!
We all know a bow tie is to be worn with a tuxedo, but some are not so sure about how to incorporate a bow tie into day-to-day wear. There is a lot of information on the internet in response to such “loaded questions” as "bow tie with slacks or jeans?" (Yes!) or, "bow tie with a sweater vest?" (Of course!). Amazingly, the more straightforward question "bow tie with suit?" is less frequently addressed.
So, can you wear a bow tie with a suit? Absolutely. Let’s get into some suit and bow tie details:
Is a Bow Tie Formal Wear?
Bow ties are incredibly versatile. Yes, they are formal wear - weddings, bar mitzvahs, proms, board meetings and galas all pair well with the bow tie. But bow ties can also be semi formal, business casual and even casual.
How you wear a bow tie and with what you wear it has everything to do with the energy you carry and how you are received. If you are comfortable and confident, a bow tie can be everyday wear.
Can You Wear a Bow Tie Without a Tux?
Bow tie fashion rules require thoughtful consideration of the dress code.
White tie is the most formal dress code and calls for a white bow tie and either a tuxedo or tails. Black tie is next most formal and calls for a tux and bow tie - although, not necessarily a black bow tie. From here, there is much room for interpretation.
Semi-formal affairs typically suggest business or cocktail attire, which translates to a matching suit and either a bow tie or a necktie. An especially dapper and somewhat unexpected look for semi-formal occasions is the 3 piece suit with bow tie combination.
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Business casual events tend to welcome come-as-you-are from the office attire, typically slacks with a blazer or sport coat with either a bow tie or necktie.
Can You Wear a Bow Tie With a Navy Suit?
The black suit has long been a classic closet staple for gentlemen of all ages. Those unsure of bow tie rules may feel more assured wearing one with a black suit over a navy blue one.
But the navy suit has earned its place as well and, one could argue, is just as handsome and perhaps more visually interesting than the expected black suit. What’s more, blue suit bow tie combinations are endless and the rules are few.
Colors can be vivid and muted, patterns can be playful or traditional. Stripes and checks, polka dots and paisleys, florals and novelty pieces - the navy suit is up for it all.
That said, accessorize with care by considering a singular color story, selecting complementary colors, or mindfully mixing patterns.
Need help getting started? Experiment with Canva's Color Theory, noting how complementary colors are found on opposite ends of the wheel.
Fine accessories are not only for the board room and ballroom, or only for the mature gentleman. Variety is the spice of life for all ages, from the youngest in the family tree to the patriarch.
If you have more questions about wearing a bow tie with a suit, or need help pairing the right bow tie with your suit? Connect with us - we have several generations worth of practical knowledge we would be delighted to share!