If wearing a bow tie leaves you with more knots in your stomach than around your neck, you’re not alone. There’s so much to consider when choosing the right bow tie—shape, color, tie fabric—and that’s to say nothing of overcoming an irrational fear of tying the damn thing. But your decision doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Instead of trying to make a handful of style decisions at once, narrow it down to the one category that’s often completely ignored: the tie fabric. Choosing a bow tie based on its fabric can add texture to your look in unexpected ways and firmly place your outfit in the right season and formality level.
Variations: Silk Satin, Knit Silk, Silk Twill
This is the go-to fabric for a tuxedo or dinner jackets. If your event is formal, a silk bow tie will elevate your look. Plus, silk’s light sheen works well with the (usually) silk satin lapels of your tuxedo or dinner jacket, bringing together your entire look.
Linen and cotton are warm-weather staples—lightweight and breathable. A bow tie in this fabric fits nicely with any casual look, especially at daytime events. Try a linen bow tie with tan, blue, or light grey suits, and don’t forget your sunglasses.
Variations: Wool Flannel, Tartan
In the fall and winter, we bundle up. That’s not to say a velvet or wool bow tie is going to actually keep you warmer than some other fabric, but visually, these rich materials lend themselves to cooler weather. Try a tartan bow tie with a dark suit—say, charcoal—or a plush velvet bow tie with a tux.