Sometimes a traditional necktie just won’t cut it. If you’re headed to a strictly formal event, you want to present yourself in the best possible manner, in which case a bowtie may be preferred. Consisting of ribbon fabric that’s tied or otherwise secured around the collar of a dress shirt, it’s synonymous with formal style. But unless you’ve worn a bowtie before, you may have some questions.
Choosing the Right Type
First, you’ll need to choose the right type of bowtie. While there are countless different styles, most bowties fall under one of three different categories: ribbon, clip-on, or self-tie. A ribbon bowtie is the standard type that’s secured by wrapping the fabric around your collar. The clip-on has an actual clip in the front, and the self-tie has a latching mechanism in the back. Of those three, the ribbon bowtie is preferred, as it offers the cleanest and most sophisticated appearance.
Of course, it’s also important to choose a bowtie in the right color. A good rule of thumb is to wear a bowtie that’s darker than your dress shirt, unless you’re wearing a white dress shirt in which case a bright color will suffice. If you’re wearing a light blue dress shirt, for instance, consider wearing a darker indigo-colored bowtie. In doing so, you’ll draw attention to your bowtie, enhancing your overall appearance. This rule doesn’t apply strictly to bowties, however. It applies to all ties, including traditional neckties.
Watch the Wrinkles
Don’t make the mistake of wearing a wrinkled bowtie. While bowties are small, they are still highly visible — and wrinkles will only hurt your efforts to achieve a clean, formal appearance. If your bowtie is wrinkled, try pressing it with a warm iron. This should make easy work of stubborn wrinkles and creases. And if that doesn’t work, you can always take it to the dry cleaners for professional servicing.
When securing your bowtie to your dress shirt collar, make sure it’s symmetrical. In other words, don’t allow one side of your bowtie to sit higher or lower than the other side. The bowtie should sit horizontally on your shirt collar, maintaining a straight and even appearance throughout. Thankfully, adjusting a bowtie is usually easy, requiring nothing more than pushing the respective side up or down to balance the look.