At Tieroom we sometimes get questions about how to wear ties and bow ties in a more casual way, at more informal occasions or more relaxed workplaces. Here are a few suggestions when you want to up your dressing game with a tie or bow tie, and still coming across as fun, alive, dynamic and not too formal.
It’s not altogether easy to create that everyday feeling with tie and bow tie – these accessories have been stylised mainly for semi-formal and business casual wear over many years, but the smart casual segment is gaining more and more ground, rapidly increasing the options for male smart dressers.
The orthodox crew
Some go so far as to say that ties and bow ties are to be worn with suits or blazers, full stop. These people’s version of informal would be in such a small way that it would go unnoticed my most people – like wearing a ‘casual fabric’ or a pattern or colour combination that’s not commonly worn according to etiquette. Perhaps they might go so far as to pull a cardigan over your tie/bow tie.
A style of your own
At Tieroom we’re not big on pointers and instructions – on the contrary, we love to hear about personal style and ideas from our customers. At the end of the day, it’s how you and yourself feel in your clothes that will decide whether you look relaxed or not. What works for your brother, neighbour or friend might not work for you and vice versa. The suggestions below might be too formal for some and hand in glove for others. So aspire primarily for your own style! We do have one pointer: don’t wear a tie or bow tie directly on the neck, just accompanying a sweater or t-shirt. Some sort of shirt or blouse is preferrable. But if you have a soft spot for tied accessories, there are other ways to play down tie and bow tie use.
Some thoughts and suggestions
Something to contemplate if you want to stay on the relaxed or informal side, but still wear a tie or bow tie:
Combinations. A blazer or suit jacket that would look very “uniformy” with its matching trousers will get new life by choosing a contrasting pair of trousers. How much contrast your style can swallow depends on your personality and confidence. Make sure you feel comfortable – nobody but yourself is wearing your clothes.
Fabric choice. Wool, linen and cotton is matte, while silk amplifies the colours and has that silky shine that so many people love and search for. The matte shine in itself feels a bit more casual, less dressed up. Linen also has a rough feel to it, slightly coarse to the touch, with visible thread ends hear and there, sometimes, and the colour finish being slightly uneven, also given a relaxed feeling. Raw silk is another material that gives quite a rough impression (although it’s very expensive and hyper exclusive).
You can roll up your sleeves of you shirt/blouse and/or your tie or bow tie a bit more loosely, perhaps have the top button unmade. A certain amount of knowledgeable sloppiness, nonchalance can look good. An air of carelessness and indifference is a very attractive image, especially among younger people. In any case, caring too much about your own looks rarely comes across as relaxed, although on the other hand caring about your exterior to a certain extent is a necessity in other groups, eg. the business society.
Pocket squares. Jackets and suits without a tie/bow tie altogether is also a definite possibility. If no particular dresscodes apply just go ahead – a jacket, blazer or suit with only a pocket square is both fashionable, relaxed and looks really good in our opinion.
Pull over a pullover. If you wear a cardigan/sweater over your shirt and tie it’s good if the neck opening is a bit sizeable. V-neck is commonly considered a good choice, the matching of knot and neck probably being an important factor – it’s all about visualising the knot and tie. If the sweater was knitted that would probably promote the “home feeling” even further.
The knot in itself holds possibilities both to informalise and have fun with knots – browse the web, there are plenty imaginative knots to try – the Hourglass, Trinity, Merovingian, just to mention a few. Let Google do the work 🙂
Knitted is a bit informal, a bit less serious in itself, but can also be seriously goodlooking and smart in the right combination as well. The straight lower end of the tie, the bobtail – takes things down a notch, like the knitted meshes. And our knitted bow ties are chubby in a delicious way, and can play down any outfit to a relaxed, alive, playful but fashionable whole. If you tie yourself, (as some enthusiasts (not us) say you must to be a proper bow tie man) you can choose the knot finish yourself – less perfect=more relaxed.
Trust yourself and be daring
Tieroom’s opinion is that you should dare to try out different styles, in order to eventually find your own. Many people find it difficult to know what they like, but most people know what they think about something when they see it. So try, and don’t just listen to the “style know-it-alls”. Not many style gurus would recommend bow tie to a leather jacket, perhaps not us either, but if that’s the hunch you have, why not try! The sky won’t fall down on you. If you’re a women, do jeans + skirt, a slightly unbuttoned blouse and pull a sparsely knitted poncho over! Why not! Whatever makes your clock tick – don’t let other people set your stylistic boundaries – let those boundaries be what you feel comfortable with, and fend off other people’s don’ts and shouldn’ts. It’ll never be the people doing what everyone else does who’ll create the fashion of the future. So free your mind! Tieroom will be here trying to give you tools to create awesome outfits.
Send us your pics
We’d be really inspired to see your own combos, both guys and girls with a thing for ties and bow ties. What you think is goodlooking is what we want to see. And it doesn’t have to be anything spectastic or fantabulous, just something you like really. And you don’t have to be a supermodel – Tieroom prefers actual people. So if you’re sucker for taking photos and experimenting with clothes, you’ve found yourself a new hobby. Feel free to send us images to firstname.lastname@example.org – we don’t pay for customer photos, but once in a while we surprise contributors 🙂
Good luck with your sartorial (look it up :)) experiments!