Bow Tie With Vest Guide (15 Unique Outfit Ideas)

bow ties with vest

Bow Tie With Vest Guide (15 Unique Outfit Ideas)

Do you ever get sick and tired of wearing the same old suit every day?  Want to switch up your bow tie style a bit?

Well this post is for you.

Part 2 of our “Bow Tie Outfit” series dives into vests with bow ties.

Below we break down more than 15 different bow tie outfits that feature the vest as a part of the look.

bow ties with vest

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A vest can be a great way to reduce some of that extra white space you might create by wearing a bow tie.

Just to quickly recap my main two fashion rules when putting together an outfit:

  • The rule of balance: Balancing 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 post these two rules will govern how I see an outfit.  Too much contrast, then the outfit looks busy and informal.  Not enough contrast, well, then the outfit looks a little too conservative.

But the overarching rule still remains;

What you wear should be determined by the occasion (work, school, interview, etc).

Anything and everything you wear should consider the occasion you are wearing it for.  An interview will call for a conservative outfit, while a friend’s party might call for an informal one. Depending on the occasion, you can flex your personality a bit and go really informal or slightly informal.  The point is, the occasion should guide how you dress.

That being said, a vest could be something you wear to an informal or formal environment. Generally, just wearing a vest might lean more toward informal, as vests are usually paired with a jacket resulting in a three piece suit.  Without the jacket, you’ll have a more informal look.

Hopefully, the below outfits will provide some guidance and inspiration on how to best wear a bow tie with a vest!

Bow Ties and Vests - Outfit Ideas

1. Gray Vest, Gingham Shirt and Red Bow Tie

For vests, we turn to no other than Alvin Black (@alvinthethird), a salsa dancing, world traveling, artistic bow tie guy.

In this look, he pulls together mostly neutral colors with grays and navy gingham, and knocks it out of the park with the addition of a plaid pocket square.

Why is this a good outfit?

Alvin follows the 3-way contrast rule with a solid jacket, gingham shirt, plaid pocket square, and solid bow tie. The colors work together as they are all neutral colors except for the red bow tie, which is why it works.

Had there been another non-neutral color aside from the red bow tie (e.g., purple pocket pocket square, light blue vest) the outfit may not have looked as balanced.  Personally, I love Alvin’s taste in waistcoats.  Alvin let me know that he gets his waistcoats from H&M and ASOS.  personally, I prefer ASOS, but you can’t beat H&M pricing, if you’re on a budget.

2. Charcoal Vest, Plaid Shirt and Bow Tie

In this look, Alvin shows how to rock a plaid shirt with a vest, coupled with a pocket square and bow tie.

Got Plaid?

Why is this a good outfit?

The 3-way contrast rule is in full effect mixed with the 100% neutral color pallet (charcoal, navy, stone, cream, etc). With neutral colors, you can really mix/match any combination to get a solid look. It gets more challenging the more non-neutral colors you add to the look.

3. Gray Vest, Gingham Shirt and Seersucker Bow Tie

In this outfit, Alvin goes for a more monochromatic look, selecting all pieces of clothing in the blue family.

Even the vest, which isn’t blue, paired with blue pieces adopts the blue undertones and creates a more grayish blue color.

This look also showcases an example on how to rock the seersucker in a way that you might not think. The puckered cotton of the bow tie matches nicely with the flannel pattern of the shirt for a very southern, country look.

Why is this a good outfit?

Alvin does monochromatic perfectly here, staying within the blue family. Even pieces without blue such as his vest, still work as it’s a neutral gray that takes on subtle blue undertones. The patterns are all varied with the exception of the pocket square atop the vest, which does just fine as a solid pattern and creates a more conservative look.

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4. Cream Vest, Black Shirt and Bow Tie

Here, we have a microdot shirt, great for following the rule of pattern density.

Those dots are tightly packed and very small. To contrast against that shirt, you could wear big polka dots spaced widely apart, for example.

Here, Alvin wears the solid vest to balance the loud shirt/bow tie/pocket square combination.

Why is this a good outfit?

All patterns contrast. For colors, the bow tie and vest do not contrast in color entirely, but the pattern in the bow tie is varied enough that it works. Had the vest been anything other than a solid, the look wouldn’t have had as much balance.

5. Gray Vest, Red Shirt and Seersucker Bow Tie

Here’s another example of a monochromatic look done right. With the vest or a jacket, it doesn’t matter, the color coordination is perfect here.

This is also a perfect example of selecting a jacket/vest with undertones of the color that you’re trying to match with. In this picture, Alvin is going for a red monochromatic look. The vest is not red, more grayish than red, but has red undertones with make it a perfect choice.

Why is this a good outfit?

All the colors are within the red family, nailing the monochromatic color strategy. In this look, all the patterns are contrasted nicely, tied together with a diamond point bow tie.

6. Tan Vest, Blue Shirt and Gray Bow Tie

Here we have more of a summer look with brighter colors and lighter fabrics.  Baby blue (or sky blue), is one of those colors that I would also add into the neutral color bucket.

Baby blue should be a color included in every man’s wardrobe to help complete many looks. I’ll also add, every man should have a light pink shirt in their wardrobe.

Why is this a good outfit?

All colors contrast nicely. The shirt and bow tie are both in the neutral territory and pair well with the tan vest and yellow pocket square. This is a great look for a more conservative look, perhaps a wedding, or some formal affair. You could swap out the pocket square with another solid pattern or remove entirely for a conservative look, given all the solid neutral colors.

7. Striped Vest, Red Shirt and Red Bow Tie

Here’s a look to give you an idea on how to wear a big, bold red bow tie and balance it out with a striped gray vest.   Alvin could have opted to for a conservative look and grab a blank pocket square, but he opted for the brighter floral to add a bit of pop and personality to the look.

Why is this a good outfit?

The 3-way contrast rule is respected here, as the colors, patterns, and pattern density are all varied. Further, there is balance in this look, as Alvin has a big bold red bow tie and vibrant pocket square balance with a gray neutral vest. This is a great example of balance in an outfit.

8. Navy Vest, Gingham Shirt and Plaid Bow Tie

This look is a fall/winter outfit, with its darker tones. It has a great mix of patterns, showing how a tighter designed gingham pattern can work against a spaced out plaid bow tie.

Why is this a good outfit?

There are three main colors in this outfit, red (in bow tie), yellow (in pocket square and bow tie), and blue (everywhere). A combination of this sort is called a triadic color combination, with all colors spaced equally apart on the color wheel.   The patterns are all different and varied in density, abiding by the 3-way contrast rule.

9. Tan Vest, Black Shirt and Brown Bow Tie

Here we have a look where brown is added to the mix in the form of a bow tie pattern. Brown is also considered a neutral color and a favorite color in many outfits during the fall/winter months.

This look also sports a wool pocket square to add a bit of varied clothing texture to the look.

Why is this a good outfit?

With an all neutral colors, the pieces work well together. The patterns are all varied and balanced. The solid vest balances out the polka dot shirt and bow tie.

10. & 11. Olive and Navy Monochromatic Outfits

Here we have two looks from Alvin. The first is a totally monochromatic olive look, while the second is monochromatic navy outfit with a salmon bow tie, to provide a bit of color blocking.

The first is great for more formal occasions with almost all solid, neutral colors, and the second is great for just about any occasion.

Why are these good outfits?

The first look perfectly executes a monochromatic look, with all varying colors of olive. Even though all the patterns are technically solid, they’re all varied in subtle ways. For example, the vest has a subtle pattern while the shirt is entirely solid with no pattern.

The second look does monochromatic well too, but color blocks by adding a salmon bow tie. This works as navy and salmon are on the opposite sides of the color wheel, providing for full contrast in the two colors. The patterns are also varied and abide by the 3-way contrast rule,

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12. Gray Vest, Gingham Shirt and Yellow Bow Tie

For this look, Alvin goes with mostly grays and yellows to produce a nice balanced look.

Why is this a good outfit?

The outfit is composed of all neutral colors, except for the mustard yellow bow tie and pocket square.

The patterns are all contrasted from the floral pocket square to the solid bow tie. Each article of clothing contrasts properly with the next.

13. Tan Vest, Gingham Shirt and Denim Bow Tie

Here’s another great example of how to integrate tan into your look for those summer and spring months.

Alvin matches that solid tan vest with a navy gingham shirt a denim bow tie and floral pocket square.

Why is this a good outfit?

The solid tan vest balances out the gingham shirt and provides pattern contrast in the outfit. The bow tie is a denim/charcoal mix and has the right texture contrast.

14. Houndstooth Vest, Burgundy Shirt  and Plaid Bow Tie

Here’s a great example of a louder vest and a quieter shirt. Other outfits we’ve seen Alvin in had louder shirts and solid vests.

Despite the bow tie, the vest is the focal point of this look, with the bow tie and the pocket square acting as compliments.

Burgundy is also the best color in the world, in my opinion.

Why is this a good outfit?

For the colors, burgundy is the prominent color, while there are a few neutrals in the background in the pattern of the vest, bow tie and pocket square. For outfits, you usually want just one dominate color and no more than three colors in total, and Alvin executes that perfectly. As far as patterns, every article of clothing has a different pattern and is varied nicely.

15. Charcoal Vest, Purple Shirt and Plaid Bow Tie

Here is a great example of how to add a little purple into your outfits.

Some say purple is right up there with pink, among the hardest colors to pull off.

Of course we don’t agree and think everyone can pull off all the colors, but this look gives people a great understanding on how to integrate purple.

Why is this a good outfit?

First of all, all the patterns are contrasting, from the subtle texture of the vest, to the paisley pocket square, to the plaid bow. Everything stands apart. For the colors, the dominate color is purple with the rest being neutral: Dark gray or whites.

Conclusion

Well there you have it folks, 15 outfits that showcase how to wear a bow tie with vest!

Remember, styling a bow tie is DEAD EASY. Hopefully this guide will get your sorted out 🙂

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