Bow-Tie Collar Rules

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The bow tie has resurfaced in fashion.
The bow tie has resurfaced in fashion. (Image: Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Bow ties have resurfaced in fashion. No longer reserved for professors or James Bond, bow ties are sported as everyday street fashion, albeit they still hold their spot at formal events such as weddings. To make the look work for you, know what shirts to pair with a bow tie and how to appropriately style the look.

Appropriate Shirt Collars

Know what collar is appropriate with a bow tie. The French collar is the basic collar and standard style to wear with bow ties. The narrow collar -- a collar about half the length of the French collar -- is less common for men, but its petite frame pairs well with bow ties. The Claudine is similar to the narrow, except that it has a rounded edge. Wear this style with a slim or normal bow tie to avoid hiding the collar's rounded edges. Wear a winged collar -- narrow collars with edges that tip up -- when wearing a tuxedo at black-tie events.

There are various shirt collars that look appropriate with bow ties.
There are various shirt collars that look appropriate with bow ties. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The Right Proportions

Keep in mind that the size of your bow tie compared to your neck should neither be too small or too large; so it's important to consider your size. Larger builds can handle larger ties, but smaller frames look overwhelmed in gigantic bow ties. Butterfly ties -- larger bow ties -- look best on men with wider and shorter necks. Bat-wing bows -- smaller and skinnier bow ties -- look best on men with narrow and long necks.

You wouldn't wear pants too large, neither would you wear a tie that is too large.
You wouldn't wear pants too large, neither would you wear a tie that is too large. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Wearing Colors and Patterns

Wear bold colors and patterns, but stock up on your basic colors first. Black, white and silver are classics acceptable for formal occasions. Black is worn for black tie and white is worn for white-tie dress codes. Silver is an alternative when black feels too formal for day. Bright colors and patterns can be also be worn during the day to make a statement. Choose colors that complement and match your shirt. A blue-striped shirt looks appropriate with a blue patterned tie. Or, wear a bold pattern with a white button-down to draw attention to your tie.

Pair a red-striped shirt with a red patterned bow tie.
Pair a red-striped shirt with a red patterned bow tie. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

It's About the Occasion

Black-tie events have their own dress code rules and the bow tie must be black in a material that matches the tuxedo jacket lapels. But when you're in a more casual environment, feel free to experiment with colors, patterns and shapes; and add in other elements of old-fashioned style with suspenders or a newsboy cap.

Wear a black bow tie with a tuxedo.
Wear a black bow tie with a tuxedo. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

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