Formal Bow Ties: Essential for a Southern Gentleman

Bow ties reign supreme when it comes to formal wear, especially at black-tie or white-tie events. Such grand occasions usually require a tuxedo and a matching bow tie to convey sophistication and refinement.

Our selection of black and white bow ties is a reflection of our respect for tradition, our use of fine materials, and our understanding of the subtle nuances that make our bow ties so elegant.

Remember - knowing and understanding the rules of formalwear is the key to bending them. It's no secret that Southern gentlemen embody tradition, but we aren't opposed to a little charm and flair either, are we?

Hang on to your hats, gentlemen, because you are about to embark on a journey about selecting, styling, and wearing formal bow ties with a few tips on the best materials, colors, patterns, and brands thrown in for good measure.

What Makes a Bow Tie Formal?

Quality of the Material

Silk is king when it comes to ultimate luxury for bow ties. Its texture is soft and smooth with a slight sheen - providing the ultimate in sophistication.  Even satin and velvet can lend a luxurious and elegant touch to your outfit, especially when it comes to festive winter balls.

By the way, while cotton is very comfortable, it lacks the elegance and shine that silk, velvet, or satin brings to the table.

Self-Tie Bow Tie

Southern men never consider cutting corners when it comes to black-tie affairs. We always reach for the self-tie bow tie and don its imperfection. To appear well-dressed, you should be slightly imperfect.

The pre-tied bow tie is an unthinkable compromise.


You should never let your tie extend beyond the width of your face or the collar point of your shirt.

Styles of Formal Bow Tie

1.   Butterfly/ Thistle

The standard wide-and-round shape you envision when thinking about bow ties - the quintessential formal look, if you will.

2.   Semi-Butterfly

This bow tie has a slightly smaller width than its counterpart - the butterfly—a true statement of class and character.

3.   Straight-End/ Batwing

This dashing bow tie features a rectangular form that does not have a curve in sight. Slim and streamlined, it is a bit less formal yet very acceptable at formal gatherings.

4.   Pointed End Style/ Diamond Point

Rare as a diamond, this style of bow tie is rather rare. It integrates angled ends that make for an asymmetric finish when tied - a great fit for a Southern gentleman with an eye for style.

Best Colors, Materials, and Patterns for a Formal Bow Tie

Colors for Formal Bow Ties

I’m sure you know that you can never go wrong with the gold standard - or should I say the black standard - the black bow tie, always in vogue, storied and elegant. This elegant style exudes a distinct Southern charm and is perfect for black-tie affairs and extravagant soirées.

Nonetheless, a navy blue bow tie adds refinement to the ensemble, while a deep burgundy bow tie is sophisticated and bold.

Materials for Formal Bow Ties

black silk bow tie always makes a statement for black-tie events. If you are attending a white-tie affair, by all means, wear that elegant white bow tie.

Patterns for Formal Bow Ties

A solid-colored tie is best for the most formal of affairs. That said, where you can afford to be a touch more playful while still maintaining formality, consider patterns like paisleys, polka dots, or even jacquard.

Tips for Styling and Wearing a Formal Bow Tie

Learn How To Tie a Bow Tie

When you tie your bow tie, it doesn't scream perfection; rather, it whispers character. Plan on learning how to tie your bow tie yourself - please. This is what separates the professionals from the amateurs, and it will be noticed, I assure you!

Your Bow Tie Should Match Your Jacket Lapels

If your lapels are made of satin, then your tie should be satin, too. If you choose a wool dinner jacket, then your bow tie should follow suit with a wool or hardy texture.

Keep It in Proportion

The bow's width should never surpass your face's width or the width of your collar. Therefore, choose a bow tie width that matches your face and collar width; opt for slim styles for angular faces and fuller styles for round faces.

Don’t Forget Your Outfit’s Color Palette

The black tie is a classic, but you don't have to stay within the confines of black. You can experiment with color by wearing a navy or deep burgundy bow tie to stand out from the crowd.

Things To Avoid When Wearing a Formal Bow Tie

Don’t Pair a Formal Bow Tie With a Regular Suit

Formal bow ties have their place - and their palace is with tuxedos.

Don’t Go Too Big or Too Small

It can be easy to select the improper size of bow tie, and I have seen it all too often. Formal bow ties come in different sizes, so be sure to find the right fit for your facial features.

Tread Lightly When Mixing Formal and Informal Styles

You cannot go wrong with solid colors or reserved patterns for black-tie or white-tie events. A true Southern gentleman knows when to push boundaries and when to honor tradition.

How To Style the Rest of Your Outfit When Wearing a Formal Bow Tie

Consider the Suit

Wearing a formal bow tie necessitates the presence of a tuxedo. While black remains a dependable and stylish option, opting for a midnight blue tuxedo can add a touch of adventure and steal the spotlight. For daytime events, consider pairing a light-gray, classic three-piece suit with a white dress shirt expertly complemented by a bow tie.

The Shirt

Your best bet is a crisp white shirt with French cuffs. Preferably, the collar should be semi-spread or spread so your bow tie can stand out.

Additional Adornments

Put on a waistcoat and cummerbund to make your look more sophisticated. Pin a boutonnière to your left lapel or adorn a pocket square with a simple, elegant design.


A pair of polished, black patent leather Oxford shoes never misses the mark. Well-polished brown brogues can bend the rules a bit with an added twist of sophistication.


Gold or silver cufflinks can add a touch of panache to your ensemble.

Good Formal Bow Ties To Have in Your Closet

Black Silk Bow Tie

Any formal bow tie collection must start with a black silk bow tie, whether it's a butterfly tie or a semi-butterfly.

Burgundy Bow Tie

If you would like to venture out with some color, a burgundy bow tie in silk or velvet can give you that added punch. This is especially rich-looking when showcased at fall or winter galas.

Patterns: Houndstooth, Paisley, or Polka Dot

Opt for a stylish black and white houndstooth bow tie for a classy twist. For a bolder look, try paisley or polka dot patterns. Keep in mind smaller patterns are better for formal occasions.

White Bow Tie

If you want to put on a white tie for a white tie event, then you don't want to overlook a white cotton piqué bow tie. This bow tie adds an air of sophistication, and it's typically paired with a tailcoat for a formal event.

There You Have It, Gentlemen

Hey, when you're dressing up fancy, it's not just about looking good – it's also about respecting the occasion and the folks there. The bow tie is the ultimate symbol of that vibe. It screams class, attention to the little things, and a touch of style that sets you apart.

As a Southern fashion expert, it's crucial to highlight your best self by staying stylish. Subscribe to our newsletter for personalized tips on rocking bow ties and exclusive access to fresh wardrobe sales.