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Tie vs Bow Tie: Which Should You Wear?

Once upon a time, there were predictable rules around when to wear neckties and bow ties. For example, a few decades ago, most men wore neckties to work single every day, and the only time you ever saw a bow tie was with a tuxedo at a gala affair.

These days, fashion rules have become more malleable. (Witness sneakers with suits.) For the most part, you really can use your own discernment when choosing between wearing a necktie or a bow tie. If you’re on the fence about which tie to go with, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. EXPRESSING YOUR PERSONALITY

Although bow ties are often affiliated with Southern gentlemen, intellectuals, professors and nerds (we’re looking at you, Bill Nye), more and more men are wearing them. From NBA host Ernie Johnson to rapper Andre 3000, bow ties have made a comeback over the last several years.

Maybe you think, “I could never pull off a bow tie.” Some experts say that’s probably true if you believe it. Others say, “Nonsense, anyone can wear a bow tie!” The common qualities of bow tie wearers are confidence and a desire to set themselves apart.

Rather not put up with smart-aleck comparisons to Orville Redenbacher? Then you may be a standard tie guy. It’s not that you lack confidence, but you choose to distinguish yourself in a more traditional way. Necktie wearers can express themselves just as easily thanks to the abundance of colors, patterns, fabrics, widths and the dozens of knot styles that can jazz up any tie, anytime.

2. DRESSING FOR THE OCCASION

Nobody gets dressed in a vacuum. We all consider where we’re going, what we’ll be doing and who we’ll see there. Let’s look at several occasions and talk about why you might choose a bow tie over a regular tie, or vice versa.

The office:Neckties are the go-to staple. But if you want to look extra dapper,

and even appear more creative and approachable, go with a bow tie.

Formal events:A white or black silk bow tie is always an appropriate choice for

formal weddings, state dinners and business awards.

Brunch with friends: “No tie” is our first thought here, but it’s perfectly playful to

wear a plaid or polka-dot bow tie with your chambray shirt. 

First dates: Many style experts say that ties of any kind are a “don’t” on a first

date, simply because they can feel a bit serious. On a first date, you want your

date to feel at ease.

3. ENHANCING YOUR LOOK

Just like you wouldn’t plan a meal around a side dish, you don’t want to plan your outfit around a tie. Instead, choose your tie to unify your overall look. If you’re wearing jeans or a neutral suit, a bow tie can add a burst of color to the outfit.

A squared-off knit tie spruces up a cardigan or even a leather jacket. The point is to consider your tie an accessory that complements an ensemble rather than overshadowing it.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TIE

Necktie or bow tie, your knot-tying techniques will be put to the test. That is, unless you’re wearing a GoTie. Handmade from high-quality fabrics in a variety of stylish designs, GoTies and BoTies are already tied into a perfect knot that doesn’t come undone. So they’re effortless to wear.

And then there’s the kindness element. For every necktie purchased from GoTie (short for Giving Our Ties), the company donates a product to one of four charitable organizations: Gary Sinise Foundation, Autism Speaks, Kickstart Kids or Night to Shine.

Each serves individuals who can benefit from GoTie’s unique, simple-to-wear design — veterans with disabilities, men with arthritis/motor skill challenges and young men who never learned how to tie a tie, for example.

With GoTie, you and someone in need enjoy the confidence and respect that comes with wearing an on-trend tie, wherever you go.