What To Wear Mar 21
Written by Reeva Babbar Read about our editorial guidelines
Read about our editorial guidelines
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What’s a tie that isn’t really a tie? It’s a bolo tie! You might have heard of this accessory from a friend, or you could’ve seen someone wearing an unusual tie that caught your eye.
Whatever the reason may be, you might be wondering whether you can style this unusual, yet elegant necktie the next time you want to walk out of the house looking like your most trendy self.
There’s no need to get ‘tied up’ (see what we did there!) in those worries because we’ve developed a fashion guide for you to follow the next time you’re wondering how to wear a bolo tie. Our list of tips and advice will help answer all the questions you might have about styling these classic, modern, or vintage bolo ties.
After reading this guide, you’ll understand the following info and so much more:
- How to wear a bolo tie
- How to wear a bolo tie with a suit
- How to wear a bolo tie with a vest
- How to find a bolo tie that works best for you
What is a Bolo Tie?
Bolo ties have become a popular fashion statement in the 21st century, especially with celebrities wearing them to model everything hot and happening. But, before we can think about how to properly wear a bolo tie, we need to answer the most intriguing question: what exactly is this popular fashion accessory?
Bolo ties— or ‘bola ties’ as some sources name this unique tie— are essentially neckties that are mostly bejeweled with a gemstone, a metal clasp, or an engraved pendant with clips attached at the back to ensure the eye-catching piece stays in place. These pendants can be worn as fashion accessories and personalized to carry a special meaning.
The part that forms a tie is a braided leather string that’s placed through the pendant to create varying, adjustable lengths. This leather cord has metal or stone tips at the end to fasten the necktie, and to make sure the pendant doesn’t fall out.
History of Bolo Ties
Opinions about the history of bolo ties vary depending on the source the information is coming from. According to Faust Gallery— a preserver of American Indian Art history— the origin of bolo ties can be traced to New Mexico and Arizona where these ties were first recognized. Some sources also credit Texas for being the origin of the bolo tie cowboy style.
You can read the entire history of bolo ties in great detail on the Faust Gallery’s website. They discuss how and when these bootlace ties came to the attention and interest of the general public.
Over the years, these ties have become the official neckwear of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Also, Hollywood has played a large role in popularizing these neck accessories from 1950 onwards. The public has paid close attention to these culturally enriched cowboy neckties that have made several comebacks in the fashion world.
When to Wear a Bolo Tie
Although these fashion neckties make great additions to many different outfits, trend hunters often wonder what types of occasions are considered perfect for sporting the bolo tie. When determining how to wear a bolo tie, think about which occasion you’d like to style this look for.
Like many accessories, bolo ties can be styled throughout the year, regardless of the season. They make great additions to your winter vests and suits as much as your summer shirts and polos— so different seasons don’t have to stop you from wearing these style statements.
There are some occasions and events, however, that are more appropriate than others for wearing a bolo tie. For instance, a semi-formal party event makes a great occasion for styling your bolo tie, as opposed to a strictly black-tie event (as the name suggests).
These are also great additions to your cowboy-themed party outfit and/or if you’re going for a more rugged look.
Essentially, these neckties are great for adding a fun accessory to your outfit, so style it for events where this rugged look is both entertained and encouraged.
How to Wear a Bolo Tie
The options for styling these neckpieces are endless when considering how to wear a bolo tie. You can choose how you wish to rock this eccentric accessory in your OOTD posts. Whether you’re wearing something formal or casual, this necktie will stylishly enhance your look.
Generally, for formal wear, try to go with bolo ties that have pendants made of gemstones (for example turquoise), or other jewels to complete your outfit and add a more elegant look. For casual wear, on the other hand, you can style your bolo ties that have clasps made of wood or engraved metal to give your outfit a trendy finish.
For a detailed explanation of how to wear a bolo tie, check out our outfit ideas below!
3 Outfit Ideas with a Bolo Tie
Like every outfit, accessories can also be better visualized on ourselves when we see them modeled on others. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into these bolo tie outfit ideas. These might come in handy when you’re desperately trying to figure out how to wear a bolo tie.
Going for a casual bolo tie look, but don’t know how to style it right? No need to worry! The outfit above gives you all the ‘dos’ for styling a bolo tie with your casual wear. It’s a great go-to look for the times when you’re thinking of how to wear a bolo tie.
With a buttoned-up white cotton shirt and a dark gray overcoat, the model has styled a unique Moon Phase Bolo Tie that has a geometric wooden frame.
The leather cord is braided tightly to secure the wooden pendant and the metal tips at the bottom. This outfit can be dressed up with a buttoned-up shirt or dressed down by wearing this tie as a necklace with the first couple buttons of the shirt open to showcase a carefree, casual look.
This Prada bolo tie is modeled by American singer and songwriter, Nick Jonas, who wears the dainty neckpiece as a formal tie. His black, double-breasted suit jacket along with his light blue dress shirt compliments the black branded bolo tie nicely.
This expensive bolo tie showcases the brand of the accessory in a subtle way without being outlandish. It pairs really well with the overall formal look of the suit and is a trendy, yet classic addition for black tie events.
You can style your look just like this if you’re going to a trendy, formal event and you’re not quite sure how to wear a bolo tie.
Looking to pair a gemstone bolo tie with your formal wear? Try this look with a cotton white shirt, classic leather suspenders, and a turquoise embellished leather bolo tie.
This outfit has the perfect vibe for those trendy and subtly formal events where you can experiment with the hottest trends while looking like you own your style.
Pair your suspenders with dark-colored dress pants, and avoid wearing too many blingy accessories (i.e. a diamond-encrusted watch) to prevent a clash of all things flashy. Let your gemstone bolo tie be the highlight of your well-balanced outfit.
What Type of Bolo Ties Can You Get?
Bolo ties are actually one of the few accessories that can be personalized, matched to any style, and worn for most occasions. With a variety of different styles to choose from, you can basically find a trendy one to go with almost any outfit.
Now that you know how to wear a bolo tie, you might be thinking about purchasing one. Here are some of the most popular styles of bolo ties that you can get:
- Cowboy Bolo Ties:
Cowboy bolo ties are very popular in Arizona and Texas, but they’re worn all over the world by anyone looking to embrace the country style. This western bolo tie is great for giving you an overall rugged look, and pairs really well with a loose-fitting white shirt and comfortable blue jeans.
- Vintage Bolo Ties:
There’s no possibility of going wrong with a vintage bolo tie, since anything vintage is all the rage these days. Vintage bolo ties are the ones that are usually family heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next.
These neckties will often have a family or cultural significance to the wearer, and their slightly tarnished finish can do wonders for your fashionably rustic look.
- Bolo Ties for Women:
Although uncommon in the pop culture world, bolo ties are a great addition to a woman’s wardrobe. These ties can become elegant neckpieces to style with your formal dress or everyday wear. So, the next time you search for ‘how to wear a bolo tie woman style,’ think of this tie as the perfect pairing for both your low and high neck outfits.
- Branded Bolo Ties:
If you wish to flaunt your favorite brand in a not-so-noticeable way, then wearing a branded bolo tie is what you should go for. Think of this statement piece as something that allows you to show off— both proudly and subtly— that expensive accessory that you gifted yourself after finally getting that well-deserved promotion.
How to Choose The Best Bolo Tie
Picking the right bolo tie can be difficult, especially with so many options available in the market. There are lots of things that come into play when buying any accessory, and the bolo tie is no exception. To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of factors for you to consider below. Hopefully, we’ll help you make the right decision for choosing the best bola tie for you:
Similar to other fashion accessories, bolo ties can be both affordable and expensive based on the look that you’re going for. The price range for bolo ties starts at around $20 (Amazon) and goes up to about $500 or more (Prada) based on the brand, material, and retailer that you’re buying from.
To make the best shopping decision, first, develop a budget for the amount you’re willing to spend on a bolo tie, and then find retailers and brands that can match that budget. Generally, formal bolo ties are more expensive than casual ones, but it isn’t impossible to style a bolo tie without breaking your budget. You just have to do some digging online!
Say you found a vintage bolo tie and ended up spending over $100 on it. Perhaps this amount wouldn’t hurt you initially. But, it will come to bite you if the string or clasp breaks the moment you try to fasten it to your neck— on the big day that you especially bought it for.
So, do some research on the quality of your bolo tie before purchasing it. And also research the retailer or brand that you’re purchasing from. The quality of the bolo tie will depend on the promise made by the brand, so make sure to keep that in mind before spending less or more on this unique accessory.
The final factor to keep in mind before choosing the right bolo tie for you is to think about the materials used to make the tie. Truly, there is no beating the strength of actual leather used for the cord, but there are some materials that are almost as strong as leather.
For example, suede and plastic rope are some of the other options. They both can be quite strong and hold the clasp in place well. Beware of faux leather and twine type of materials, though, because these look strong, but can break easily.
Also, choose the material or stone for the clasp/pendant that you’re most comfortable with to ensure that the pendant doesn’t cause any skin irritation or rashes.
How to Style a Bolo Tie
There are many different ways that you could style this fashion accessory, and it can be personalized according to your style and the look you wish to achieve. When thinking of how to wear a bolo tie, try to imagine your outfit as a whole to help you achieve the style you’re looking for.
For men, you could style a bolo tie right up to your neck just within the collar frame like you would wear a tie. Or, wear it as a necklace hanging low with your polo T-shirt for a more casual look. Just like a regular tie, style your bolo tie with a tighter fit for formal outfits, and a looser fit for casual looks.
For women, you could wear a bolo tie with a low neckline to give it a more necklace vibe. And this works really well when you’re wearing a choker since it creates a layered necklace illusion. Or, you could wear it like the guys do on top of your shirt— to create the country cowgirl look of your dreams (with a cowgirl hat, too, of course).
Fashion Tips to Avoid With a Bolo Tie
Like with any fashion trend, there are some things to watch out for when you’re trying to style a bolo tie with your outfit. So keep these tips in mind when you’re considering how to wear a bolo tie.
- Consider comfort: Don’t try to wear a bolo tie in a style that you’re not comfortable in. So, despite all the rage over the rugged, cowboy look with a bolo tie, you don’t have to wear it that way if that isn’t your style. Accessorize your outfit with a bolo tie in the way that you feel most confident in.
- Remember the dress code: Although many places accept the bolo tie in formal settings, make sure to check whether it can pass as a tie in the event or venue that you’re concerned with.
Remember, there’s a difference between standing out and standing apart— you don’t want to be singled out as the one who failed to understand the appropriate dress code.
- Check out affordable options: Lastly, a bolo tie doesn’t have to be expensive for it to work in formal settings. It could be a reasonably priced neck piece as long as it doesn’t give off the look of being too casual. In other words, formal wear accessories can be affordable if you know exactly what type of bolo tie will work with your outfit.
How to Take Care Of a Bolo Tie
Of course, if you’ve spent money on an accessory, you want to make sure that you do everything in your power to keep it intact. So taking care of your bolo ties is a must and something that needs to be paid attention to.
Most bolo ties are made of a braided leather cord that, like all the other leather items, needs to be kept away from water. You don’t want the leather to start wearing out on the cord, which in turn would loosen the clasp on it making the pendant fall towards the cord tips.
Also, if you’ve ever owned a watch with leather straps, you know how much it can smell if it’s been on your wrist for long periods of time after several days. Basically, the leather cord can start to smell when mixed with sweat and body odor, so make sure to air out your bolo tie like your other leather accessories.
Best Places to Buy a Bolo Tie
Depending on the type of bolo tie you’re looking for, you can either purchase them through an online accessories retailer, or an in-person fashion and jewelry store. Some stores widely advertise bolo ties for sale, so more people will be able to take advantage of these beautifully unique neckpieces.
Due to their popularity in the fashion world, many expensive accessory brands make and sell their original bolo ties. The Prada Saffiano Leather Bolo Tie, for instance, has been seen on many celebrities like Nick Jonas, Quavo, and Dylan Sprouse. This popular neckwear costs a little over $450.
Of course, the big brand names will charge big bucks for the brand itself. Thankfully, that’s not the average price you absolutely have to pay for rocking these necklaces with your everyday trendy outfits.
Some retailers that sell affordable bolo ties are Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Rocky Mountain Western. These places are great to shop from since they have a wide variety of styles and price ranges, so you can buy the bolo tie that you wish to wear with your next trendy outfit.
Bolo ties began as a culturally significant accessory, and have since transformed into an item that still holds space for culture but also so much more. These unique and intricately-designed fashion neckties are going viral in the celebrity world and causing lots of hype in the real world.
With so many options to style them, you never have to worry about how to wear a bolo tie with your chosen outfit. With a little bit of inspiration and help from our style guide, you can style them according to event, occasion, or your personal preference— as long as you feel your best self and confident in carrying this leather neckwear— which is the most important thing.
So, next time you reach for your polyester or silk necktie, think of all the bolo tie style options you’re missing out on by wearing a regular, mundane, and oh-so-last-season tie.
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