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Bow-Tie vs. Necktie vs. No Tie: What Should You Choose

When it comes to menswear, few items of clothing convey more personal style and gravitas than ties. (These days, in fact, not wearing a tie has become its own form of fashion statement.) Ties come in a wide variety of different types, lengths, widths, materials, and styles, and the different types of tie knots that can be used with traditional neckties and bow-ties alike are seemingly endless in their variations.

So what are the best ways to sport a tie? When are the best times to wear them? Here are just a few tips on getting the perfect look with your ties, and why these at once classic and fashion-forward items are making a serious comeback.

1. Bow-ties: A Classic Look With a Modern Twist

When it comes to bow-ties, the options are truly limitless. Worn with a standard grey or blue suit, bow-ties tend to convey an old-school sensibility; with so-called “repp stripe” ties, wearers can also express a “preppy” fashion sense that connotes ease, comfort, and aristocratic good taste.

For a more professorial look, try combining a good repp stripe bow tie with a tweed sports jacket and an Oxford cloth button-down shirt. The history of this look is rooted in the Ivy League college culture of the early-20th Century; back then, many students at East Coast colleges like Harvard and Yale used to do most of their shopping at outlets like Brooks Brothers. These companies popularized the repp stripe tie style that we still associate with New England preppy fashion today; companies like J.Crew have emulated the look for decades.

Bow-ties also look great in a variety of different social contexts. They can be worn at work with dress shirts; they look wonderful at weddings; and they can make an outfit exude charm on a night out at a fancy restaurant. Some old-school political analysts even swear by them!

2. Neckties: Must-Have Items for the Sartorially Inclined

Undoubtedly, a classic necktie is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing that a person can own. Neckties can come in a huge variety of different styles; many people opt to purchase neckties with simple printed patterns or repp stripe designs; other people like to express their own unique sense of fashion via the use of creative, nontraditional patterns and bright colors. However you choose to wear your necktie, be sure to make it fit with your own personal style and outlook on life.

The choice of a good necktie can also complement a good suit or jacket in a way that few other items can. With a casual sport coat, for example, you can try using brighter colors or more vivid patterns to offset the texture of your jacket. For a conservative navy or charcoal suit, a toned-down blue or red tie can work wonders even in stodgy professional environments. The options are truly limitless when it comes to neckties, so don’t be afraid to experiment with the right color and pattern for your needs!

3. No Ties: 21st Century Menswear at Its Most Fashion-Forward

Fifty years ago, ties were usually required articles of clothing in offices and classrooms. Nowadays, most offices don’t require workers and managers to sport neckwear, and very few schools have dress codes. For many people, this new era of sartorial freedom can be a very good thing indeed. Dress shirts coupled with great suits or sport coats can look fantastic without ties, and certainly, there is something to be said about the stylishness of wearing a casual dress shirt open at the collar.

4. Changing It Up

For many people, a variation on all three of these styles can give a daily dress routine a feeling of excitement and unpredictability. You might try wearing a bow-tie to the office one day and no tie the next. You might enjoy experimenting with the fashion possibilities of a traditional necktie four days a week with a special “bow-tie day” set aside for Fridays.

However you choose to wear your ties, remember to bring your interest in fashion to the fore as you cultivate your own unique look. A tie can be one of the most expressive articles of clothing that you’ll wear throughout your life; be sure to make it count! Truly, that is fashion at its best.

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