Although often overlooked, the bow tie is one of the best accessories for adding singular personality to your formalwear. However, whilst a classic necktie can be successfully worn without much effort, wearing a shirt and bow tie requires a little more planning and execution. To help put you on the right track, this guide looks at the best shirts to wear with a bow tie.

What Types of Shirt Collar to Wear With a Bow Tie

To wear a bow tie stylishly, you need to ensure that its width is not beyond the breadth of your shirt collar. This can be easier to accomplish when purchasing a self-tie design that can be adjusted. Good collar options for formal outfits are cutaway, Windsor and spread, whilst button-down collars are perfect for smart-casual occasions. The wing collar shirt is the ideal choice for a black tie event.

What Colour Shirt to Wear With a Bow Tie

A bow tie can either be the perfect complement to an outfit or an interference; so if yours features a bold pattern, opt for a plain shirt to even things out. Alternatively, if it's subdued, you can afford to be a little more adventurous with your choice of shirt. For example, a classic red design would look great worn with a blue and white Bengal stripe shirt, whereas a paisley style would pair perfectly with a crisp white formal shirt. A white shirt with a bow tie is always a good idea.

How to Tie a Bow Tie

Pre-tied bow ties can complete a formal look in a flash. However, knowing how to tie one is a sartorial skill that every gentleman should possess. Simply use our guide below and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Layer 1

- Standing in front of a mirror, place the bow tie around your neck with one side hanging at least two inches longer than the other.

Layer 2

- Take the long end and cross it over the short end.

Layer 3

- Next, pull it up through the gap between the tie and your neck. Once done, pull both ends tight, and place the long end over your shoulder.

Layer 4

- Lift the hanging end and fold it in half over your finger at the widest part of the bowed shape. Then place on top of the knot created at the neck, and hold in place.

Layer 5

- Take the end that is over your shoulder and drape it over the centre of the first bow.

Layer 6

- Next, take the top of the hanging piece of tie and thread it through the loop created at the back.

Layer 7

- Continue to pull through the loop (without pulling it completely through). This will form the back half of the bow. To complete, tighten using the opposing front and back sides of each bow, and adjust as you tighten.


Now you know how to wear and shirt and bow tie, you can take a look at our full collection of formal shirts and ties. Alternatively, if you've been invited to a black tie event, you can read our guide explaining the black tie dress code.

Bow Tie FAQs

Q: What is a bow tie?

A: A bow tie is a type of necktie with a bow-shaped knot that is traditionally worn with semi-formal or formal attire.

Q: What is the difference between a bow tie and a necktie?

A: The main difference between a bow tie and a necktie is the shape. A bow tie is short and has a bow-shaped knot. On the other hand, a necktie is much longer and has a more traditional triangular shape. 

Q: What are bow ties made of?

A: Bow ties can be made of many different materials, including silk, polyester, cotton, and linen.

Q: Are bow ties out of style?

A: Bow ties are a timeless addition to any wardrobe. While they may not be entirely suitable for every day, they are ideal for the smartest ensembles and black-tie events. 

Q: Are bow ties only for men?

A: No, bow ties can be worn by both men and women.

Can you wear a bow tie with a normal shirt?

Bow ties are associated with the most formal dress code because they are worn with dinner suits and tuxedo shirts. However, men's bow ties can also me worn with a wide range of formal shirts, as well as button-down Oxfords.