The Southern Gentlemen's Manual to Tuxedo Ties

There's nothing quite like stepping out in a well-cut tuxedo, tie knotted just so, ready to charm the world. The southern man understands that the clothes don't merely make the man, but they sure as sugar can let the world know he's arrived!

The key to nailing the tuxedo look often lies in the smallest details, where the tie becomes this fashion tale.

Without further ado, let's delve into the world of tuxedos and ties, exploring everything from the fundamental distinctions between tuxedos and suits to selecting the perfect tie to compliment your tuxedo, all seasoned with a touch of Southern charm!

Tuxedo vs. Suit

Are tuxedos and suits interchangeable? More specifically, are they just two birds of a feather?


One of the main features of the tuxedo is satin. Satin appears on the lapels, buttons on the jacket, and along the trouser leg. It certainly makes a statement.


Your all-rounder suit is free of satin. The suit may not be an eye-catcher, but its versatility works for most occasions. It also is available in many colors, patterns, and fabrics.

Choosing the Right Tie for Your Tuxedo

Classic Black Bow Tie

The bow tie is the heart of the black-tie image and has traditionally been worn as a “classic black bow tie.”  Adding a bow tie to your outfit adds an air of sophistication.

Contemporary Considerations

As time marched on, a new era of creativity and personal expression gave way. A black bow tie was the traditional choice for formal settings in the past, but more contemporary settings also include a necktie.

Therefore, if you feel more comfortable wearing a necktie, opt for a darker tone like a deep burgundy or midnight blue. 

Selecting Fabric: Match your lapels

Silk is always in vogue. Utilize satin, grosgrain, or barathea silk for your bow tie.

A hefty woven silk is the sweet spot for your necktie. Nevertheless, ensure your tie’s fabric harmonizes splendidly with your tuxedo’s lapel.

What are Considerations When Choosing the Right Tie for a Tuxedo?

Choosing the right tie for your tuxedo goes beyond picking what feels comfortable or looks stylish at first glance. Even the most expensive silk tie can come up short if it doesn't align with the context of the occasion or complement the rest of your attire. 

Formality of the Event

The prescribed attire can vary from the highly formal "white tie" or "black tie" occasions to the more flexible "black tie optional" or even "cocktail attire."

Black Tie Events

Select the gold standard of a black bow tie for black tie events when in doubt. Grand affairs expect nothing less, so you can never go wrong sporting a black bow tie, crisp white shirt, and a classic tux.

Cocktail Attire/ Less Formal Occasions

Enter neckties! For example, a slim, navy blue necktie at an outdoor wedding goes very well with a midnight blue tux. In addition to expressing some personality, it also maintains an elegant appearance.

Personal Style and Comfort

You want to dress in a style that makes you feel confident and comfortable. If you don’t mind walking on a bit of the “wild side,” go for that patterned bow tie. A polka dot bow tie can be a conversation starter and lend a unique twist to your ensemble.

Align Your Tie with the Rest of Your Outfit

Choosing a bow tie that matches the lapels of your tux can be a simple matter of matching the material of the lapels to the bow tie of your choice. 

Is It Better to Wear a Tie or Bow Tie with a Tuxedo?

Bow Tie

As I mentioned previously, tradition has always taught us that the bow tie reigns supreme with a tuxedo. It commands an air of timeless grace.

Tuxedo Tie

There is no right or wrong in choosing between a bow tie and a tie. The choice is ultimately determined by the formality of the event, as well as your taste. Bow ties embody traditional style, whereasties convey a more contemporary flair. 

For a semi-formal gathering, consider wearing a necktie in lieu of a bowtie with your tux.

For instance, you can wear a sleek black satin necktie with a charcoal gray tuxedo to a friend's semi-formal wedding reception.

How Tuxedo Shirts Affect Your Choice of Tie

Wing Tip Shirts

I don’t think you can get any more formal than a wing-tip shirt. The collar points are stitched down to give that 'winged' appearance favored by Southern gents for ages. 

A wingtip shirt is the epitome of elegance and is perfect for pairing with a bow tie. Due to the collar, the bow tie is perfectly framed, allowing it to be the star of the show.  

Spread Collar Shirts

This shirt offers versatility with a choice of bow tie or necktie to match the occasion or mood. Its wide-spread collar accommodates larger knots for an elegant necktie look.

Pleats and Ruffles

Add some volume and texture to the shirt front for a little Southern chivalry. It pairs beautifully with a bow tie. In this southern-sophisticated look, the bow tie complements the shirt's details.

As a Southern gent, the relationship between your shirt collar and the tie is like a good ol' Southern barbeque sauce on a smoked brisket — you want a perfect blend where one compliments the other. If you wear a bow tie, go for wingtip or spread collars. If a necktie is your choice, a spread collar works best.

What are Styling Tips for Wearing Ties with a Tuxedo?

Match the Right Tie Knots with the Shirt Collar

  • Shirt with a wider spread collar - Wear the Windsor of Half-Windsor knot
  • Shirt with a narrow collar - Wear the Four-in=Hand knot

Proportions: Work with Your Build

  • Larger built gentleman - Wear wide ties
  • Leaner-built gentleman - Wear narrow ties

Keeping this balance in your tie's width will help maintain proportion with your overall silhouette. Regarding the length of your tie, you should always have the tip just graze your belt buckle.

Colors, Patterns, and Materials should Match the Occasion.

Fashion is all about expression, but when indulging in a tuxedo with a tie, we need to adhere to some unspoken guidelines.

  • Shiny silver tie - Could be worn with a black tux for New Year's Eve
  • Navy blue polka dot tie - Could be worn for a cocktail hour

Consider this scenario:

Imagine a timeless black tuxedo elegantly matched with a pristine white shirt adorned with a semi-spread collar. Complete the look with a lustrous deep burgundy silk tie impeccably knotted with a Half-Windsor knot. 

This ensemble epitomizes formality while radiating character. Adding the burgundy tie introduces a vibrant touch of color, conveying your refined taste and discerning style.

What are the Do's and Don'ts When Wearing a Tie with a Tuxedo?

Do: Pick the Right Fabric for Your Ties

There is no doubt that satin and grosgrain silk are the best fabrics for black-tie occasions. Their natural sheen fits perfectly with tuxedo lapels trimmed with satin. 

You can, however, wear something a little less formal, such as cotton or linen, if you're attending a more relaxed event.

Do: Remember to Cater to the Dress Code

For an invitation stating “black tie,” adhere to just that, meaning a black silk bow tie.

If, on the other hand, the invite says “creative black tie,” then dress in those fancier, more expressive ties. Just remember to keep it on par with your entire ensemble.

Don’t Forget About Proportion

I am referring to the width of your tie, the size of your tie knot, and the size of your tuxedo lapels. For instance, if your tuxedo has skinny lapels, you should opt for a skinny tie, and so on.

Don’t Neglect the Length of Your Tie

Tie length should end about halfway through your belt buckle. Too long or too short ties will throw off your whole outfit.

Don’t Be Afraid to Express a Bit of Southern Flair.

Believe it or not, a well-chosen patterned tie or a unique knot can make a difference. A tasteful floral patterned tie for a more informal black-tie event with a Trinity Knot can turn heads. Just remember, when it comes to ties, less is more. Too much detail can be overwhelming and look unprofessional.

Some Examples of Tuxedo Tie Outfits

Classic Black Tuxedo with Black Silk Bow Tie

This is the quintessence of a formal dress code and one that never goes out of style. It has been the go-to choice for men at grand occasions and state dinners. This is the recommended outfit for black-tie events. 

Midnight Blue Tuxedo with Black Satin Necktie

A midnight blue tuxedo is just the ticket if you attend a formal affair but don’t want to take center stage. Paired with a black satin necktie, it creates a modern and elegant look. It's the perfect choice for a black-tie event without being too flashy.

White Dinner Jacket with Black Bow Tie

For occasions that lean towards a more laid-back interpretation of black-tie attire, especially during a sweltering Southern summer night, donning a white dinner jacket paired with a black bow tie offers a refreshing departure from the norm. This ensemble provides ample room for creativity when selecting the shirt—opt for a daring black shirt to make a statement, or go for the classic charm of a crisp white shirt for a more traditional look.

Tartan Dinner Jacket with Black Bow Tie

If you really want to embrace Southern charm, spruce yourself up in a tartan dinner jacket with a black bow tie. You will certainly add to the festive occasion by adding a crisp white shirt and matching pocket square.

Midnight Blue Tuxedo with a Floral Patterned Tie 

Along with a lighter blue dress shirt, the floral patterned tie ties in (pun intended) with the blue hues of the tuxedo. This offers a fashionable nod to Southern heritage while maintaining a formal yet approachable demeanor.

Dark Green Velvet Tux Jacket and a Black Satin Bow Tie

Picture yourself donning a dark green velvet tuxedo jacket, black trousers, a black satin bow tie, and a white dress shirt. Now, if that doesn’t turn a few lady’s heads, I don’t know what will, gents!

Tie-ing Everything Up

Formally, the tuxedo tie stands as an enduring symbol of elegance and sophistication. Whether you opt for a classic black bow tie or experiment with vibrant colors and patterns, your choice of tuxedo tie is a statement of personal style. 

So, as you prepare for your next formal event, remember that the tie you select can speak volumes about your personality and fashion sensibilities. Let your tuxedo tie be the finishing touch that elevates your look from ordinary to extraordinary, making you the epitome of timeless charm and refinement in any setting. Choose wisely, and let your style shine.

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