With the festive party season just around the corner, you may well find yourself in the familiar dilemma of what to wear for the occasion. While this is usually a dilemma associated with women, for the fashion conscious, modern man it can also be a big problem that requires much thought to make sure you stand out for all the right reasons.
The common misconception that men’s party-wear is straightforward is far from the truth. Yes, there may be general rules that for a formal affair you opt for a classic suit and tie ensemble, or maybe even a full Black Tie outfit; and for less formal you can probably get away with smart chinos and a shirt; but the reality is that these dress codes are decidedly vague rules to work on.
The complexities of menswear
Back in the day, most men had a smart suit reserved for parties, weddings and other formal gatherings, but it seems that nowadays it isn’t as simple as donning a suit and turning up. There are a whole host of accessories that go with menswear that can change the entire look of an outfit and even the style, colour and cut of a suit can make a difference.
One element of menswear accessories that we want to take a closer look at is the bow tie. Although bow ties have never really gone out of fashion – they’re a timeless classic, certainly for Black Tie parties or those wanting to replicate the James Bond look – they have sometimes been sidelined for slick ties and cravats, or been pigeon-holed into the ‘eccentric’ category of men’s accessories.
However, the latest fashion trends for men’s party wear are seeing the bow tie come back strong. So much so that young and old are ditching the traditional tie and going for a bow tie to make a bold statement with their outfits.
The basics for choosing a party bow tie
That being said, if you do decide to wear a bow tie to a party there are some key considerations you need to take on board to emulate the suave and sophisticated look, rather than being branded “that guy with the quirky bow tie”.
Naturally, bow ties are a little quirky, but the style and colour you choose are incredibly important, as well as how and where you wear them. To pull off wearing a bow tie for party season you need to have complete confidence in yourself, and the bow tie you’ve chosen, otherwise you won’t feel or look comfortable.
One of the first things you should think about is the colour of your bow tie. The great thing about bow ties is that they afford a little more creativity and the option of being bolder with colour choices to really make them stand out – unless you’re attending a formal Black Tie event where typically black or white bow ties are preferred.
But, before you go crazy on your colours, you need to make sure it actually goes with the rest of your outfit. Taking the time to figure out the most suitable colour that will match the outfit you intend to wear to the party is paramount to pulling off the bow tie look. For example, if you’re wearing a plain white or pale coloured shirt, you have plenty of colour options to choose to make your bow tie pop out at people, whether it’s a royal blue, red, gold or purple. In contrast, if you’re going for a bold coloured shirt, you may want to go for a more understated or pale colour that will contrast nicely with your shirt, yet still stand out. A well-matched shirt and bow tie will give your party ensemble a whole new dimension.
Patterned or plain?
Another important consideration for party bow ties is whether to go for a patterned design or plain. Naturally, at a party you want to make a special effort with what you’re wearing and there are an abundance of patterned bow ties available on the market, from simple prints to vibrant gingham. They can work really well in giving a staid party outfit a whole new lease of life and added panache.
Much of the decision of whether to go with a patterned bow tie will again rest on the type of shirt you intend to wear. As a rule, patterned bow ties work best when worn with plain or simple patterned shirts, as this allows the bow tie to be the central focus of the outfit. As you would imagine, wearing a patterned bow tie with a heavily patterned shirt will look busy, mismatched and lose the impact of wearing the bow tie all together. As always with bow ties, it’s about coordinating it with the rest of your outfit.
Go for the real deal
One element of party bow ties that can put some gents off is the hassle of tying up a proper bow tie, but you can also get clip-on or pre-tied options that are obviously easier to negotiate for the novice wearer.
However, if you’re serious about wearing a bow tie and really want to pull off the look and make it look authentic, investing in a high quality tie-up bow tie will make all the difference. There are plenty of easy online demonstrations on how to tie a bow tie properly, and once you’ve mastered the art, you’ll feel even more confident wearing it. Plus, when the evening starts to wind down, you can have that slightly dishevelled, debonair look with an untied bow tie draped around your shirt collar.
The shirt counts
Finally, when you are choosing the right party bow tie, always make sure you’re wearing a shirt with a suitable collar. Traditionally the winged-tip collar worn with a tux is the perfect accompaniment with a bow tie, but you can still wear a bow tie with a normal shirt, providing it has a small, narrow or club collar that doesn’t impede on the bow tie itself.
With these helpful tips you’re sure to find the perfect party bow tie to make your party outfits pop with a bow tie, whatever the occasion.