How To Style a Bow Tie For A Wedding
To be honest, I think a lot of men are afraid of bow ties, or have opinions about the kind of man who wears a bow tie. That it projects a certain air of aristocracy. Maybe because it’s a little more ‘Old World’ than a skinny tie. Victorian. Or maybe it’s because traditional ‘Black Tie’ dress code is actually a black satin bow tie. The perception is that bow ties are only appropriate for red carpets or galas.
But that’s just so totally wrong!
Nowadays, bow ties come in all shapes and fabrics— from wood, to feathers, to satin and wool. There are “casual” bow ties and “formal” bow ties and everything in between. So the question is not “Is a bow tie appropriate for this occasion”, it’s “What is the right bow tie for this occasion?”
Since it’s prime wedding season and I’m at that age when all of my friends are getting hitched, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a bow tie guide for 4 different kinds of weddings. Cuz not every wedding is done in a church, or with a white dress, or with a ceremony.
To help me along, I partnered up with Neiman Marcus, whose bow tie collection ranges from Tom Ford silk to feather covered Brackish Bowties. Check out each look below and let me know which one is your favorite in the comments.
Casual Summer Wedding
If I were attending a beach wedding, I would wear basically the same thing, just switch out the oxfords for something a little more casual (like a driving loafer). But this look is great for any sort of casual outdoor wedding. It’s grounded in ‘elevated denim’. I’m still wearing a blazer, bow tie and pocket square, but I paired them with a chambray shirt and white denim. The combination is a mash-up of crisp Summer styling and dapper accessories.
I should point out, this is a knit bow tie from Lanvin. I think knit bow ties pair best with casual looks, particularly chambray. I wouldn’t recommend a satin bow tie or anything in a black or dark navy. Lanvin makes a pocket square with four different patches of color. Which happen to match all of the blue ties in his collection. No brainer right there.
Formal Summer Wedding
Formal daytime weddings in the Summer are tricky. You should wear a full suit, but you don’t want to sweat all day long. Two recommendations: find a linen or tropical wool suit, and wear a vest.
I know wearing a 3-piece suit in the middle of Summer sounds like crazy town, but once the ceremony is over and you’re hitting up the buffet and dance floor, you can ditch the blazer and still look super sharp. Not like Uncle Ted whose blouse-y shirt comes untucked when he does the electric slide.
Again, it’s Summer, so opt for lighter colors in your suit. Since it’s still a formal affair and you’re wearing a 3-piece suit, you can go for darker accessories. This Lanvin bow tie has an unfinished hem, so it’s somewhere in between casual and super fancy.
Casual Nighttime Wedding
I had a friend who skipped the ceremony portion of the wedding, got married at the courthouse and then had a party in a backyard in Williamsburg. This is what you wear to that kind of wedding.
It’s unconventional, not dapper but still super sleek. Like you’re willing to pay for an $18 cocktail kind of sleek (though honestly— if your wedding doesn’t have an open bar, I’m probably not coming). And it’s just denim and a leather jacket! The bow tie does all the work for you.
I went with a satin Burberry bow tie to dress things up just a bit.
“Wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.” -Warren St John in The New York Times
ANY Kind Of Wedding
I would say this is the safest bet if you’re just wadding into the waters of the bow tie. A clean navy blue suit, a white shirt and brown oxfords. With that combination, you can wear ANY kind of bow tie and look fantastic. It’s appropriate for daytime weddings and night. This combination should actually be the foundation for formal dressing in every man’s closet, just insert whatever accessories make you most comfortable (tie, lapel pin, pocket square, etc.)
This houndstooth bow tie is from Tom Ford. I paired it with a floral lapel pin and solid grey pocket square.
So what’s your verdict? Are you a bow tie man or a traditional tie man?
P.S. August 28th is National Bow Tie Day!! So I highly recommend giving one a try. ;)
P.P.S. The 3-Piece Suit look was shot by Diego from Dandy In The Bronx, all others were shot by my partner, Mike Georgen.
*This post is in partnership with Neiman Marcus. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.