Should You Wear a Bow Tie or Necktie?

Are you trying to make a decision on whether you should wear a bow tie or a necktie? If you are, let the other pieces of your outfit guide you to the right neckwear for your look. 

If you have picked the rest of your outfit, you have already chosen between wearing a bow tie or necktie. That’s because neckwear depends so much on the context in which it is being worn. Are you wearing a suit or a tuxedo, what is the formality of the event, and what is the style of your shirt? All these aspects play a role in your choice of neckwear. It sound pretty complicated, but we can show you what is what. 


Table of Contents

  • Necktie vs. Bow Tie 
  • What to Wear 
  • More Advice about Ties and Accessories


Necktie vs. Bow Tie: Which Should You Wear?

There are only a few circumstances where you need to follow actual neckwear rules. These situations are pretty specific, and we will cover the most common ones in the upcoming section. Otherwise, the most obvious way to decide whether you should show up in a bow tie or necktie is to consider how formal or casual the event will be. 

If the event calls for a formal attire (black tie dress codes, black tie optional dress codes, or events where you will need to wear a tuxedo) a bow tie is going to be the right choice of neckwear. It is always better to be slightly overdressed than too casual when it comes to formal events. 

However, if you are wearing a suit, or if the atmosphere is a little more laid-back, a neck tie will be just fine. And even though bow ties are less common when it comes to casual events, you can still show up in one. You can, for example, choose a bow tie with a bit of a playful pattern to tie (see what we did there) it all together with your casual look. 



What to Wear: Common Neckwear Situations

When choosing your neckwear it is very useful to know whether you will be wearing a tuxedo or a casual suit.


If you’re wearing a suit:

If you are waring a suit, the bow tie is a less common choice. So if you are looking to set yourself apart from the crowd, you are good to go with a bow tie. However, if you feel more comfortable wearing a necktie and blend in with the other guests, it is also completely fine to stick with a tie. When wearing a suit, there is no right or wrong neckwear. Simply go with what you feel most comfortable and confident and you will be just fine. 

If you’re wearing a tuxedo:

If you wearing a tuxedo, the event you are going to is most likely pretty formal or there is a specific dress code. If the dress code calls for a black tie attire, wear a bowtie. If it is a little more casual (creative black tie, black tie optional or a more laid-back event) you are okay to show up in a necktie. Just be sure to now pick a crazy colored necktie or a tie with a pattern other than black and white. Your necktie should be either black silk or satin, or like mentioned above, a simple black and white pattern. 

If you’re wearing a pleated shirt:

A pleated shirt is as straightforward as it can be. Pleated shirts are the number one indicator for a formal attire, as they are often worn with a tuxedo, and because many are designed to be styled with button studs. A necktie is casual and would cover up the button studs. So, if you are wearing a pleated shirt, wear a bow tie.


If you don’t want to wear a a neckwear:

We understand that there are times when you simply don’t want to wear any type of neckwear. Going tieless can be a great way to stand out, whether you choose to go with the shirt fully buttoned up or if you aim to achieve a more casual look with the top button open. The tieless look works best with a suit. 

Another great way to rock the tieless look is the turtleneck. Just be sure that the party host doesn’t have a fixed dress code for his event. 


Let’s Tie It All Up

The type of neckwear you choose to wear is important, but if your suit or tuxedo doesn’t fit you the right way, it won’t matter what you end up accessorizing it with. Your “base” needs to fit you like a glove and that is where we come in.  

At AlbertGerald we put a lot of focus and emphasis on the right fit for YOUR body. You can schedule an appointment at 732-289-2748 or send us an email with your questions to and we can help you achieve the right look and fit for your next event. 




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