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If you’re getting ready to attend a formal or semi-formal event (a prom, a wedding, an important conference, a business luncheon, etc.), then you may be wondering:

“What’s the difference between a bowtie and a necktie? And when is it appropriate to wear either of them?”

This can be a confusing question. 

Sometimes, you really need to wear a bow tie.

While at other times, it’s definitely more socially acceptable to wear a necktie.

And sometimes, you even have the option to choose one or the other!

So in this post, you’re going to learn the truth about which one to wear during which specific types of occasions. 

1. For Black-Tie Formal Events, Wear A Bow Tie

If the event is black tie or formal (i.e. if the men in attendance are going to be wearing tuxedos), then it’s definitely going to be a social and stylistic requirement for you to wear a bow tie.

Remember, black tie events are called black tie for a reason. 

They signify the highest level of formality and style.

And for an occasion like this, in our culture and society, a bow tie is a must.

2. If You’re Wearing A Suit, A Necktie Will Suffice

If the event is casual enough that either a tuxedo or a suit would be acceptable (such as prom), and/or if the event isn’t formal enough to specifically require a tuxedo, then odds are good that you would be safe wearing a nice suit and a necktie. 

In fact, if you’re going to be wearing a suit at all, a necktie is the default choice. 

It’s rare to wear a bow tie with a suit—unless you’re trying to achieve a particular type of alternative style. 

3. If The Event Is More Casual, A Necktie Is Appropriate

Sometimes, overdressing can be almost as awkward as underdressing.

For example, if you’re going to a business luncheon, odds are good that nobody else is going to be wearing a tuxedo. 

So if you showed up in a tuxedo with a bow tie, you would definitely look out of place.

And this is exactly what you don’t want.

4. If You’re Wearing A Pleated Shirt With Studs, Wear A Bowtie

You’ll probably notice that a lot of tuxedos come with a pleated shirt. 

And that shirt probably has little button studs that form a line running up the center of the shirt, all the way to the collar (these are traditionally black). 

If you wore a necktie, you would cover these studs—and that would defeat their purpose. 

This is a good indication of whether or not the shirt you’ve selected is supposed to be worn with a bow tie or a necktie.

5. You Can Wear Either A Bow Tie Or A Necktie For ‘Black Tie Optional’ Events

Some events are labeled as formal, but are technically classified as ‘black tie optional.’ 

For these types of events, it would be acceptable to wear either a tuxedo or a suit—and either a bow tie or a necktie would be acceptable, as long as it matched appropriately with the rest of your ensemble.

6. What About Wearing A Bow Tie With A Suit?

As a general rule, this isn’t a style option that be appropriate for a black-tie or formal event. 

However, sometimes, for less formal events, you can get away with wearing a bowtie with a suit as a unique or alternative expression of style.

But keep in mind that while this can be acceptable in certain situations, it’s also true that you’ll be less likely to wear a plain black bowtie. 

You’d be more likely to wear a bowtie that is either colorful, or that matches the rest of your ensemble in some other way. (Think of Bill Nye the Science Guy, for example.)

7. Should You Ever Go Without A Tie?

Sometimes, it’s a style in itself to go sans tie. 

Leaving the top button of your shirt and collar unbuttoned can produce a cool and rugged look. 

Sometimes, you can also opt for a turtleneck as opposed to a button-down shirt altogether. 

However, it’s important to understand that this look is really only acceptable on very limited occasions. 

If you show up at a formal black-tie event with no tie, you will look sloppy as opposed to rugged

With that being said, if you show up at a business lunch sans tie, but manage to pull it off well with the rest of your ensemble—it could make you look edgy, and perhaps even a bit more stylish.


Hopefully, this post has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the question of when to wear a bow tie vs. a necktie for special events. 

And just remember—if you need some help getting a tux or suit for your next “tie event”, don’t hesitate to give us a call or come on by.

You can also view some of our available tie styles and colors online for inspiration (and we have many more in stock in our store).

We’d love to help make your next formal occasion a massive success!

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With a new year already upon us, it’s time to start thinking about how you’d like to make 2022 different and better than 2021 (and the other years that came before it). 

Some people think that ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ are silly, and just an excuse to push off self-improvement until the next January 1st rolls around. 

But there’s also something to be said for the new beginnings that come from making it past such a significant milestone. 

And when it comes to self-improvement, it’s important to take personal style into consideration. 

The History Of The Tuxedo

Now, the history of the Tuxedo is actually pretty long and involved. 

But the short version is that it came onto the scene back in 1865. Prince Edward VII, the Prince of Wales at the time, commissioned an ensemble that was more formal than a lounge suit, that also carried with it a few ‘tailcoat’ design elements. 

As a result, the ‘dinner jacket’ was born. And it quickly became a fashion trend.

The Tuxedo’s Place In Modern Style

Nowadays, we tend to think of the tuxedo as the ultimate elegant eveningwear choice for men.

There’s no look that’s quite as ‘excellent’ as a man wearing a tuxedo for a formal occasion. 

But it’s also true that American style has changed so much over the past 70 years (especially post World War 2), that sometimes people aren’t completely sure when they should or shouldn’t wear for some types of special occasions. 

So in this post, you’re going to learn about some events where you can (and even should) most definitely consider a tuxedo as not only a relevant style option—but also as the default choice for certain types of gatherings and ensembles. 

If you want to level up your style and improve your tuxedo game in 2022, then these events should definitely be on your radar as tux-worthy.

5 Types Of Events To Wear A Tuxedo To In 2022

1. Weddings

Unless otherwise stated, it’s usually a good idea to assume that weddings are going to be black-tie affairs. 

This means that a tuxedo is generally the proper style choice for such an event. 

In some places (such as in England), tuxedos generally aren’t supposed to be worn until after dark. 

But in the United States, wearing a tux during the day has definitely been cleared as an acceptable practice—and even during the day, a tuxedo makes for a fine choice for wedding attendee attire. 

2. Theatre And Opera

Historically and culturally speaking, the theatre and the opera have long been considered the epitome of prestigious live art forms. And as such, viewers are generally expected to dress well when in attendance. 

This is another type of event where a tuxedo is not only considered appropriate—but also preferred as a style choice. 

Wearing a tuxedo while attending a live theatre or opera production will make you stand out. It’ll label you as a ‘true gentleman of culture,’ and is most definitely a positive and well-respected fashion statement. 

3. Prom

Prom is a rite of passage for many young men and women—an opportunity for introduction into the world of graceful, upstanding, and elegant social nightlife. 

For this reason, the tuxedo is the defacto prom style choice for men. It’ll empower them to broadcast tones of classiness, elegance, and sophistication. 

Choosing the proper tuxedo for prom is also important. 

This is a night you’ll look back on for years to come. Choosing the proper look will cement the evening in memory as one of timeless class. 

4. Official Societal Debuts

Any official ceremony where you’ll be coming together to pay homage, bestow or receive honors, take up a mantle of official office and/or public or civil responsibility, etc. will generally call for a tuxedo. 

Think about the Oscars, Presidential Inaugurations, honors banquets, the dedication of memorials, etc. 

Whether you are the focus of such an event or just in attendance, wearing a tuxedo broadcasts a powerful and elegant social message. 

It shows the world that you’re a man who takes the meaning behind this ceremony seriously—and that you’re the type of man who’s worthy of respectability in such circles. 

5. Special Events And Private Parties 

Private parties and special events also sometimes call for the wearing of a timeless, classic tuxedo. 

Of course, every specific event will be different. 

But as a general rule, you always want to stand out and make a statement. 

And the best way to do this is by being the best-dressed man in the room. 

Well, wearing a tuxedo gives you a lot of social power with which to accomplish this. 

It tells others a lot about you without you needing to ‘tell them about you.’ 

Plus, a classic tux is really coming back in as a style choice in 2022—even at more casual gatherings. 

You really can’t go wrong with this one. 


There you have it. 

5 types of events that may call for the wearing of a tuxedo. 

So make 2022 your most memorable year yet, and dress to impress for every occasion. Browse our online shop or drop by Karl’s Tuxedos to check out all the choices available for your next ‘tuxedo-wearing’ event!

Do you have any questions? Drop us a line or stop in. We’d love to help you out. 

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So you’re not in to choosing the colors of the bridesmaid’s dresses or what type of flowers will look best on the top of the cake…   But, we know you have an opinion about a few things and one of them is definitely about what YOU want to wear!

*Take advantage of the Groom’s Free Try-On offered by Karl’s and spend some time choosing your tuxedo.  This is a big deal, if you’re not comfortable with how you look and feel on your wedding day, it will show!  Try different fits, fabrics, and colors until you have found the perfect look.  Try some designer names like Michael Kors and Ike Behaar.  And you just never know when you might fall in love with a navy, grey or even paisley tuxedo. (Now we’re not saying you shouldn’t take your partner’s opinion into consideration here, because let’s face it, no one wants to spend time in the doghouse.)

*Get involved with the reception planning.  Discuss song choices with the band or dj and set up the wine list and/or beer menu.  If you are enjoying the music and drinks, your guests will see it and they will want to join in on the fun.  Offer your suggestions for the dinner menu as well.

*Help with the registry.  Ask any guy out there who has helped with this, and most of them wouldn’t say they hated carrying around that barcode scanner “shooting” the items they needed to complete their registry.  Don’t be afraid to register for things like games, camping equipment, or even TV’s.  Your guests may enjoy purchasing unique gifts.

*Arrange transportation for you and your guests.  Surprise your partner with a unique car or limo to transport the two of you from your ceremony to reception.  This will give you a moment to yourselves to take it all in before you get ready to party with your guests.  If you’ve got a large group coming into town, arrange for a limo to pick them up at the airport.  Your guests will love it, and you look like the hero!

*Honeymoon, Honeymoon, Honeymoon!  Visit travel agencies to get recommendations on honeymoon locations.  Gather information on your favorites to present to your partner such as brochures, prices, etc…  Your help will be appreciated!

*Offer any advice you can on family members and friends when it comes to seating charts.  You want your guests to enjoy who they are having dinner with.

*Be patient and supportive.  If you aren’t taking on the full reigns of planning your wedding, chances are your partner is.  There will be some stressful and emotional moments along the way.  In the end, all that matters is your love and commitment to one another.  Remind each other of this, and enjoy every minute together you can!

And, hey, if tying a few bows on some wedding favors earns you some bonus points, well… it’s probably worth it!