Bow Tie Outfit Ideas (23 Ways To Wear A Bow Tie)

bow tie outfit ideas

Bow Tie Outfit Ideas (23 Different Ways To Wear A Bow Tie)

Looking for ideas on how to wear a bow tie?

Not sure how to coordinate colors and patterns?

This guide breaks down 23 different bow tie outfits.

Four each outfit I explain (in simple terms) what each outfit is doing right so you can take that knowledge and apply it to your own wardrobe.

Read through them all or skim around for bow tie outfit ideas and inspiration.

bow tie outfit ideas

When you wear a bow tie that doesn’t match with your outfit, you look silly. Most guys tell me they would wear a bow tie if they knew how to tie a bow tie (check out our easy video tutorial) and if they knew what to wear with one (the goal of this post).

The key is to wear a bow tie (or any tie) that contrasts well with the rest of your outfit (I’ll go more into this in a minute)

Wearing a bow tie is no different than wearing a necktie when it comes to styling an outfit.

Whether you’re a veteran bow tie wearer or you’ve never worn a bow tie in your life, this post should give you some great bow tie outfit ideas.

Outfit Styling Guidelines (2 Main Rules)

When I style an outfit, I try to abide by two main rules:

  • The rule of balance: Balance vibrant patterns and bright colors with conservative patterns and neutral colors (gray, white, tan, brown, & navy).
  • The 3-way contrast rule: Contrast in color, pattern, and pattern density.

All throughout this article I’ll be referring to an outfit’s balance and contrast because abiding by these two simple rules will give you a great looking outfit about 99% of the time.

For example, does your outfit only have very loud patterns and bright colors? Well, it’s probably out of balance.

Patterns are a great way to liven up a look, but you don’t want to look like this:

For contrast, is your outfit made up entirely out of a navy blue suit jacket, navy blue pants, navy blue tie, and navy blue shirt?

Then it’s probably lacking contrast (and potentially balance for that matter). 

Again, you don’t want to walk around looking like this:

Depending on the occasion of course, lack of contrast “could” be the look you’re going for, which is absolutely fine.

The goal of this article to help you consciously decide that is what you want do.

Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way let's have a look at some bow tie outfit ideas!

1. Mustard Yellow Jacket and Gingham Shirt

For our first outfit, one of the most fashionable bow tie guys in the community, John (@famouslydapper) sports a solid yellow jacket with a gingham shirt and micro polka diamond point bow tie, black pocket square and lapel pin.

I really like this outfit because it gives some ideas on how to wear black without looking goth or in a way that doesn’t look like you’re going to a funeral.

Why is this outfit good?

We all know the #1 rule in men’s fashion is fit right? Well, the #2 rule is contrast. John properly contrasts every piece of this outfit.

The color contrast is there in spades between the jacket and the shirt.  Black is a neutral color so the yellow matches with it easily.

You also have four different patterns in this look, which separates each piece nicely. It’s the pattern densities that makes these contrasting patterns work. You’ll notice the microdots on the bow tie, which are really dense against a gingham shirt and a figured pattern in the pocket square.  The size of each square in his shirt is bigger than the bow tie pattern.

Last thing I’ll note about this look is that it has balance, which some would say may be the most important aspect of a well put together outfit.  Here, John has a loud gingham shirt. The pattern is very bold and so you would pair it with something less bold, like his solid colored jacket.  If he paired it with an equally bold jacket (say window pane for instance) then he’d perhaps change the bottom half to solid slacks and black shoes to balance the look, otherwise he’d be so far into informal territory with so many patterns that he’d likely look silly.

2. Slate Blue Jacket and Red Striped Bow Tie

For the second outfit, John opts for a mostly neutral color pallet. And for those of you reading who have no clue what “neutral” colors are, neutral essentially means, “without color”.

Some examples of neutral include gray, black, white, beige, ivory, and navy in some cases. These colors tend to have undertones of other colors as well. For example, John’s jacket, is gray with undertones of blue.

Neutral colors match with nearly any other color.

Why is this outfit good?

This outfit nails the 3-way contrast rule, contrasting in color, pattern, and pattern density, The color contrast is perfectly done with the bow tie being a red and black striped pattern. It’s the only non-neutral color used (ignoring the metallic lapel pin).

The pattern contrast in this outfit is done exceptionally well, contrasting the medium checkered pattern on his shirt, with the thick stripe of the bow tie, and solid jacket and pocket square. The lapel pin acts as a fashionable cherry on top for this outfit.

​3. Tan (Almost Stone) Jacket, Gingham Shirt, and Floral Bow Tie

For this outfit, John is sporting a floral bow tie atop a navy gingham shirt, with a solid brown (almost stone-colored) jacket, figured pocket square and lapel pin. By opting for the loud floral bow tie and loud gingham shirt, this would definitely be categorized as being more informal. John also demonstrates how great a subtle lapel pin could look.

Again I’ll also add, this is another example where he showcases how to wear black without looking goth or like he’s going to a funeral.

Why is this outfit good?

John respects the 3-way contrast rule, but opts for a more informal bow tie look. Every single piece of clothing has a different pattern and color. All of the colors, except for the bow tie, fall into the neutral category yielding a great looking outfit.

Looking at balance, John uses the solid color and pattern of his coat to balance the floral bow tie and gingham shirt.

5. Tan Suit Jacket And Checked Shirt

Perfect for those summer derby days with lighter hues, this solid tan jacket looks great. John contrasts every piece thoughtfully, and it works.

Why is this outfit good?

All pieces contrast nicely. Like previous outfits, John opted for a louder shirt and quieter jacket for balance in an all-neutral color palette.  I’d also recommend adding a pink or light blue bow tie if you wanted to give this outfit a little more vibrancy for those spring and summer days.

6. Window Pane Suit Jacket And Gingham Shirt

Feeling bold, feeling adventurous, John shows how it’s done with very bold vibrant patterns.

This look is definitely on the informal side of the house and will surely turn heads. 

Usually, the shirt is noisy and the jacket is quiet, or vice versa to establish a sense of balance in the patterns. John went all out with the patterns for this look and we think it looks great.

Why is this outfit good?

The contrast is definitely there with all the patterns varying in color and density. The jacket is neutral which can be paired with most other colors. In this case, we have blue which makes the outfit great for summer.

If you’re wondering how this look is balanced, I would say that the tan/beige jacket is so neutral that it takes some of the edge off the pattern.  Also, given how spaced out the pattern is on the jacket and how much more dense the pattern is on the shirt and bow tie, it works.

7. Herringbone Suit Jacket, Gingham Shirt, And Striped Bow Tie

You see that herringbone pattern on the jacket?

Dead giveaway that Mr. John here decided tweed was the fabric of choice, and we couldn’t have been more happy to see it.

Making a huge comeback in 2015, this jacket provides a sense of style while not going to over the top.

Given the pattern, this jacket is definitely on he informal side and due to it’s tan color, probably more of a summer feel to it. However, paired with some browns/grays, could be pulled together for a nice winter look.

Why is this outfit good?

Once again, every piece of the outfit is contrasted in pattern, color, and density.   The wide window pane pattern contrasts nicely with the smaller gingham pattern. The striped bow tie brings it all together.  This is a great example of how pattern density plays a role in outfit coordination.

I’d also recommend checking out this article on suit fabrics to learn a bit more about the different types of materials. Most suits are made out of wool, but it’s good to know what your options are.

8. Green Suit Jacket And Checked Shirt

Now in this look, John get’s a little daring, sporting a light green blazer.

It’s not a neutral color, but paired with other neutrals the green gives the look balance.

Usually a solid jacket tends to be more conservative in color.

Why is this outfit good?

This look could’ve gone way off the deep end with too many colors and could’ve looked clownish. The green jacket coupled with the white checked shirt pattern provides that much needed balance, but is still an extremely vibrant look that you don’t see very often.

Also, something you don’t see in the frame is that John is also wearing black pants, further balancing the look.

9. Dr. Who Suit Jacket and Purple Bow Tie

The guy who single handedly brought back the bow tie into the fashion spotlight is Dr. Who, more specifically the 11th doctor.

Here we see John in a more darker toned setup accented with a Dr. Who lapel pin.

Dr. Who aside, this outfit is a great example of something you might wear during the fall/winter months as it falls into the darker/shaded color setup with lots of earth tones.

Why Is This Outfit Good?

Respecting the 3-way contrast rule, John opted to go for a louder shirt and a mostly solid jacket with a subtle pattern in the weave of the jacket’s material.  The neutral white shirt and brown jacket allows for some creativity when selecting the bow tie. Really, any color would have worked well. In this case, John picked purple, and it looks great mixed with the blue pocket square.

If you’re a fan of the color wheel, blue and purple is an analogous color combination and John nails it.  If you want more information on the color wheel and how it can help you get dressed in the morning, I’d check out Antonio’s post over at Real Men Real Style.

10. Sky Blue Jacket and Striped Bow Tie

In contrast to the above outfit, this would fall more into that spring/summer look with the more bright vibrant colors.

For those of you who’re wondering what the deal is with summer vs winter styles.  Essentially, winter tends to be gray and white lending it self to more dark rich colors, whereas spring/summer tends to be very bright and in most cases, hot.

Who wants to wear dark heavy fabrics to make yourself even more miserable in those hot months, making the brighter colors with lighter fabrics (cotton, linen, etc) such as this outfit more desirable and functional.

Why is this outfit good?

You’ll notice this look has mostly solid patterns but it works as the look is built around the striped bow tie, which contrasts against the whole outfit nicely.  All the colors contrast and are all in the same bright tonal family.

11. Suit Jacket, Gray Vest, And Bow Tie

Here we have a great example of a way to rock a bow tie with a suit jacket/blazer, but mixing it up by adding a vest.

Why is this look good?

This is definitely a winter outfit given the layers and the dark colors. This outfit also follows the 3-way contrast rule.

The vest adds a new dimension but still contrasts properly with the other elements of the look. Every color in this look is neutral and plays well except for the pocket square.  One could make the argument that the pocket square is the focal point of this outfit given its level of contrast.

12. Gray Suit Jacket, Burgundy Vest, and Bow Tie

Here’s another great example of a winter outfit layered and styled very well. Personally, we love burgundy as it’s a deep rich color that adds a level of style to any look.

Why is this outfit good?

The shirt and the coat both fall into the neutral color territory, making them easy matches with most other colors.

In this case, John opted for a solid burgundy vest. Burgundy is one of those colors that matches well with most other colors especially in solid. The bow tie falls nicely on the solid vest/gingham shirt with the pocket square also doing well on its own against the solid grey jacket.

13. Charcoal Suit Jacket and Striped Bow Tie

Here we have community member Matt (@Bratsch) rocking a classic charcoal suit with a bow tie.

A classic color like charcoal is considered to be one of the most conservative colors one could pick for a suit aside from wearing black. Wearing a conservative suit such as this allows for some room to be a little wild and crazy with your bow tie if you want to go a little informal.

Why is this outfit good?

Matt rocks the classic look nicely following the 3-way contrast rule.  He is wearing almost all neutral colors with the charcoal jacket, and white shirt offset with a more eye-catching, thick, striped, red bow tie.

Given the choice to wear charcoal and a white shirt, he could’ve worn just about any other color or pattern and it would’ve looked handsome and sharp. For a formal event, a solid red bow tie would be appropriate.  For an informal event, a floral bow tie might be the way to go.

14. Suit Jacket And Green Bow Tie

For this look, community member Sam (@samnation3000) rocks a green polka dot bow tie offset with a 3-piece suit, coupled with a batman lapel pin (he was headed to comic con).

Why is this outfit good?

This is a relatively conservative outfit as it’s almost completely solid.  You can’t see it, but the vest has a subtle pin stripe pattern.  The look works because the bow tie sits on a solid colored shirt, acting as the focal point of the look.  Mixed with the orange (an analogous color with green) the bow tie provides the needed color contrast.

15. Navy Suit Jacket, Striped Shirt, And Bow Tie

Here we have bow tie guy Mike (@mikelcal) with a simple bow tie + jacket look.  This is a great example of how easy it is to rock a bow tie with a simple look.

Why is this outfit good?

With a black/navy jacket, white shirt, and navy bow tie, all the colors in his palette are neutral and play well together.  All the patterns contrast with one another.  We might recommend to tone down either the pattern of the shirt or the bow tie to allow one pattern to be the clear focal point in the look.

As it stands now, the bow tie competes with the shirt as they both have similar pattern densities and are both neutral colors. Aside from that, the outfit follows the 3-way contrast rule and is a great example for simple bow tie look.

16. Pink Jacket and Polka Dot Bow Tie

Another fashionable bow tie guy out there is DJ Hargrave, a blogger and fashion stunner.

He’s seen here knocking them dead with his pink blazer.

When was the last time you saw anyone rocking white pants let alone a bow tie!?

Why is this outfit good?

Again, the balance is there.

DJ goes full tilt with a very loud pink jacket but promptly balances the look with a pair of white pants, white shirt, and black polka dot bow tie. The neutral look underneath allows for him to have more fun with his jacket.

He follows the 3-way contrast rule, contrasting the colors (pink on white on black) and contrasting the patterns (polka dot bow tie on solid outfit).  Pattern density isn’t applicable for this outfit as there’s only on piece that has a pattern.

If you’re interested in DJ’s style, I recommend checking him out at his website where he regularly provides outfit ideas outside of just bow ties.

17. Gray Suit Jacket, Blue Shirt, And Bow Tie

Here we have the always fashionable Barnette Holston (@dcfashionfool) rocking a traditional light gray suit during the spring months, adding a bit of seasonal color through the bow tie.  This is a great take to a traditionally conservative look.

In fact, this is the exact same outfit as one I spoke about earlier except with a purple and green floral bow tie ,which shows how just swapping one article can make such a huge difference with respect to the whole vibe of the outfit.

Why is this outfit good?

Every color used in this outfit is neutral except the bow tie, making for a great focal point in the look.  The shirt has a very subtle pattern in the weave, adding a bit of depth.  The 3-way contrast rule is in full swing with the shirt, suit, and bow tie being varied in color and pattern.

Barnette is an extremely fashionable guy, heavily involved in the men’s fashion scene in Washington, D.C.. If you dig his style, I recommend you check out some of his other fashion adventures. 

18. Blue Jacket, Bow Tie, And Floral Pants

Here we have Barnette wearing a blue blazer with a plaid bow tie.

You’ll notice his pants are not just any pair of boring old suit pants, but a very loud floral pattern.

Barnette provides a great example of how you can vary up the look of your pants and still look sharp.

Why is this outfit good?

First of all, this look has balance.  Wearing a pattern such as this on his pants is a bold fashion-forward move and could have easily gone out of control. To establish the balance, he opts for a solid coat, solid shirt, and a more laid back plaid bow tie.  The conservative solids balance out the bold pants.

The outfit has color and pattern contrast as well as coordination.  For example, blue and green work as they are analogous colors on the color wheel.  Barnette could have also worn maroon/purple/violet pants and that would’ve worked as well.

19. Charcoal Jacket, Striped Shirt, And Red Bow Tie

Here we have bow tie guy, José (@pombo_life) rocking a charcoal blazer, striped shirt and patterned bow tie.

Again, here’s another great conservative outfit idea for people who want to wear a bow tie, but don’t want to turn too many heads.

Why is this a good outfit?

Like all outfits, I first look for the 3-way contrast rule.

Does the outfit contrast in color, pattern and pattern density?  The answer to that question is yes for this outfit. Michael has a striped shirt here mixed with a solid navy jacket and a red bow tie with a pattern to add a focal point to the outfit.

The second thing I look for in outfits is balance.

If there’s a very eccentric bright pattern, there should be an equal amount of solid neutral colors and patterns to balance it out. Of course everything depends on the occasion, but for this look, all of the above is followed and it’s a great outfit.  The colors are all gray/navy, which are considered neutral colors and the bow tie stands out against the soft patterns and colors nicely.

20. Slate Blue Jacket, Blue Shirt, and Gingham Bow Tie

Here we have a great bow tie outfit from, Joe out of New Jersey (@the_law_suit).

Let’s be honest, if Joe wore this to court, he’d garner a lot of attention. From the lapel pin, to the presidential fold pocket square, this look is spot on.

Why is this a good outfit?

All of the colors in this outfit are coordinated well. Joe opts to splash a little orange in the look atop the blues in the suit which works perfectly as blue and orange are complements of each other.  The gingham of the bow tie and the polka dot pocket square provides nice pattern contrast.

21. Navy Jacket, Striped Shirt, And Floral Bow Tie

Another look from bow tie guy Joe, provides some great pattern contrast in a suit look. Partially reminding us of John from Bull and Blossom.  This look is made up of mostly netrual colors, but the patterns are what really make this look stand out.

Why is this outfit good?

Following the 3-way contrast rule, this look contrasts colors well, but where it really stands out is the use of varied patterns.  In total, there are 4 patterns in this look (counting the solid jacket) which can be a lot in some cases, but this look is balanced with the use of the solid jacket and mostly neutral colors (navy and white).

22. Gray Checked Suit, Gray Shirt, and Yellow Bow Tie

Here we have a bow tie guy (@the_bow_tie_enthusiast) that knows how to rock a little yellow. Yellow is definility one of those colors that doesn’t get a lot of attention because it’s so bright and tends to lean to an informal look, which many folks shy away from.

Why is this outfit good?  

Aside from the use of yellow, the use of patterns are nicely arranged. Take a look at the jacket, it has a loud pattern.  To balance that, the shirt has a solid pattern.  Aside form the bow tie, all of the colors used in this look are in the neutral pallet contrasting with the yellow bow tie nicely.

23. Navy Jacket, Khaki Pants, And Red Bow Tie

Here we have bow tie guy Rich (@onlyboyinballet) rocking another classic look. When you opt for suit separates rather than a traditional two piece, you have to opportunity to create something like this.  This is pretty much a perfect look for anytime of the year.

Why is this outfit good?

This look respects the 3-way contrast rule as well as the rule of balance. All the colors used here except the bow tie are neutral and can be mixed and matched seamlessly. The red bow tie is the focal point and contrasts nicely with the navy jacket, The patterns are all contrasting and balanced nicely, from the gingham shirt to the solid jacket, it works.

Final Thoughts!

Well, there you have it.

Twenty-three different bow tie outfit ideas to get you mind going about what you should think about wearing.

Rocking a bow tie doesn't have to be hard!

Hopefully you're feeling a little bit more comfortable 🙂

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