Neckwear is optional for many men these days, and even guys that wear suits to work can skip the tie without looking out of place. Workplace rules have relaxed quite a bit, and as long as you look put together, most people won’t have a problem with it.

However, some men are still required to wear a tie pretty much every day. Whether they work in corporate offices with older bosses and clientele, or they feel compelled to put their best foot forward, the tie isn’t going to die anytime soon.

In previous years, we saw a major trend come to the forefront – the bow tie. More and more guys are adding bow ties to their wardrobe and replacing the traditional counterpart almost completely.

But how do you know when to choose bow ties or ties? And when is the right time to wear which? Many men are confused, but there are some helpful tips that can help you. Use this quick guide to decide when to wear bow ties or ties.

Formal Events

If you’ve been invited to a black tie or white tie event, the bow ties or ties debate should be a non-issue. You should wear a bow tie if you don’t want to look like the guy who didn’t read all the details on the invitation.

Events that are formal, but are not black or white tie, can be a little tricky. The answer here is to wear what feels right to you, whether you choose bow ties or ties of the traditional type.

Pick the option that looks most dignified with your suit. If you do wear a bow tie to a formal event and you don’t don the standard black color, make sure you pick something that isn’t too silly – solid colors, stripes or micro-dots are best.

Leave your more decorated bow ties in the drawer for a less formal event. You won’t feel out of place, even if you’re one of only a handful of guys wearing one.

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Weddings

Getting a wedding invitation in the mail strikes fear in the hearts of many men. Mostly because they don’t know what they are going to wear, especially when the invitation doesn’t make the attire very clear.

For the most part, the bow ties or ties problem isn’t a big one at your average wedding if it doesn’t clearly state black tie, tuxedo or something of the nature. The average guy who isn’t in the wedding party, or getting married himself, won’t get a lot of attention because of his neckwear choices.

Solid colored ties or stripes are always a safe choice, so if you choose to wear a bow tie, apply that same logic to a wedding where you’re not really sure of the dress code. If you know the wedding isn’t going to be formal and you want to show off your personal style, a bold or uniquely patterned bow tie could be just the thing.

At the Office

What you wear to the office really depends on your office culture. Some men feel like they should wear what their bosses wear or what is traditionally “the look” in their industry.

If you feel the need to wear a neck tie at work every single day, you may not feel like you can get away with a bow tie. The truth is that you probably can. After all, bow ties are actually pretty old-fashioned, not a new trend that only younger generations are wearing.

When it comes to ties or bow ties, you can probably get away with either in a majority of modern offices. Most offices just aren’t as formal as they used to be. A lot of men have abandoned ties altogether, so you shouldn’t feel out of place in a bow tie. If you’re worried, pick a basic pattern or a solid color to try before you pull out the piano key bow tie you “just had to have.”

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On the Town

Suits continue to become more and more popular, even for men who don’t have to wear them everyday,  Many men are wearing them for a simple night out or for date night. Suits are a popular wardrobe choice for men who want to look just a little more dapper than your average gentleman.

If you’re going to wear a suit to an event that doesn’t require one, you might be wondering if bow ties or ties are the better choice. The fact is that you can likely get away with either, depending on your own personal style and the suit you’re wearing.

Wear a bow tie if you want to stand out from the crowd or make a dark colored suit a little bit less formal. If you’re wearing a midnight blue suit on a date, a bright red bow tie could be an excellent choice. Even a bow tie with a bold pattern could be an ideal choice if you’re wearing a more formal suit to a place where most guys won’t be dressed up.

On the other hand, you can’t go wrong with regular ties if you’re wearing a less formal suit. Seersucker, khaki and blended cotton suits often look better with traditional ties.

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About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for Men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.