Should I Wear a Bow Tie or Necktie?

Should I Wear a Bow Tie or Necktie?

A tie is an essential components of a men's suit. It brings all of the garments together in a cohesive manner, enhancing the wearer's appearance by adding a touch of color and style to his neck area. While some guys may attempt to sneak by without wearing one, this rarely works. Regardless of the occasion, you almost always need a tie to complete your look when wearing a men's suit. It's an otherwise small and simple accessory that makes a world of different. And for this reason, you shouldn't wear a suit without a tie. While there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different ties available for sale, ranging in color, fabric and design, most fall under one of two different categories: neckties and bow ties. You probably know the difference between bow ties and neckties already: bow ties feature a bow design, whereas neckties are long and narrow. Both ties are excellent choices that will enhance your appearance when wearing a suit, but there are some key differences between the two that shouldn't be overlooked. So if you're struggling to choose between a bow tie or necktie, keep reading for some helpful tips on which one is right for you.

Ease of Use

When comparing bow ties and neckties, it's important to consider their ease of use. Do you remember the first time you attempted to tie a necktie? It probably didn't go so well; I know my first attempt was a disaster, as I spent more than an hour fiddling with my necktie while searching for phrases like "how to tie a tie" on Google. There are dozens of different ways to tie a necktie, but none of them are easy for beginners. Granted, after you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature and you can do it in your sleep (well, almost). But until that time comes, you may struggle to successfully tie your necktie. In terms of ease of use, the bow tie is the clear winner. Bow ties are significantly easier and less time-consuming to tie. If you know how to tie your shoelaces (and I'm assuming you do), well congratulations, because you can tie a bow tie. The process is pretty much the same, consisting of a basic "tie" that's wrapped around neck. The only difference is that you're tying a bow tie instead of your shoelaces.

Stick with a Bow Tie for Tuxedos

If you are going to wear a tuxedo, it's best to stick with a bow tie. As mentioned in our previous StudioSuits, blog post, the question of 'can you wear a tie with a tux' has a clear answer: tuxedos and bow ties are a classic match. There's just something naturally sophisticated, elegant and slimming associated with a bow tie and tuxedo. Sure, you can probably pull off a necktie with a tuxedo, but how many times have you seen this combination? The answer: probably not many, and there's a reason for that. Bow ties offer a cleaner, better all-around look when worn with a tuxedo. Stick with a bow tie when wearing a tuxedo to ensure a classic, sophisticated appearance. handsome-682111_960_720

Slimming Effect

But there are still benefits to choosing a necktie over a bow tie, one of which is the necktie's slimming effect. Neckties create a phenomenon in which the wearer appears taller and slimmer -- a characteristic that's not found in their bow tie counterpart. This is due largely in part to the inherit design of the necktie. They are long and narrow; thus, creating an optical illusion to the observer. Wearing a necktie isn't going to physically make you slimmer or taller. Rather, it creates an illusion in which you appear taller and slimmer to the observer. This alone is reason enough for some men to choose a necktie when wearing a suit over a bow tie.

Design and Style Choices

You'll probably notice that both neckties and bow ties are available in a wide variety of different styles and designs. From traditional single colors to stripes, plaid, polka-dots and even animal print, the possibilities are endless. Regardless of your personal preference, chances are there's a bow tie and necktie out there with your name on it. It's up to you, however, to find it. The bottom line is that you shouldn't base your decision of a bow tie or necktie on style alone. Because with a little bit shopping, you can find the perfect design in either option.

Wrinkles and Creases

It should go without saying that wrinkles are a big no-no for both neckties and bow ties. A deep wrinkle or crease creates a messy appearance that takes away from the wearer's overall image -- and that's never a good thing. While both neckties and bow ties are susceptible to wrinkles, they typically occur more in neckties. This is because neckties are larger and more visible than their bow tie counterpart, so wrinkles are also inherently more visible. If you struggle to keep your ties and garments wrinkle-free, it's probably a good idea to stick with a bow tie for this reason. You can literally wear them for days without ever needing to press or iron it.


In terms of formality, bow ties are more formal than their necktie counterpart. Again, this is why they are typically worn with tuxedos. While there's no rule stating that you cannot wear a necktie with a tuxedo, bow ties are the preferred choice due to their highly formal appearance. So if you're planning to attend a formal event or party, stick with a bow tie. It's a classic choice that's guaranteed to enhance your appearance with a formal look that's simply not available in neckties. Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of the differences between a necktie and bow tie. They are both great choices for suits, although bow ties are a bit more formal, making them the preferred choice for formal occasions. But bow ties also lack the slimming effect of the necktie, so consider this when choosing between the two.