A bolo tie is a braided leather cord with silver or metal tips. The cord is threaded through a slide or clasp made of metal, wood, or beads. The clasp is typically decorated or made in the shape of Western designs and motifs like bears, thunderbirds, horses, and cattle skulls. The clasps are often inlaid with turquoise or other precious stones. Some are embellished with Indian beading. Bolo ties go by different names. Bola, cowboy, and string ties have been used interchangeably. As long as it’s a braided cord clasped together and worn like a tie, it’s a bolo tie. Whether you’re a seasoned bolo tie enthusiast or someone looking to experiment with this iconic piece for the first time, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide on how to wear a bolo tie in a way that complements your modern style.
Ways to Wear a Bolo Tie
Wearing a bolo tie adds a touch of Western charm and unique style to your outfits. While the traditional way to wear a bolo tie is around the neck, there are various creative and stylish ways to incorporate this versatile accessory into your wardrobe. Here are some different ways to wear a bolo tie:
The Casual Way
If you’re pairing the bolo with a more casual get-up, unbutton the top button of your shirt and wear the bolo a bit more loosely around your neck.
Undo your top button and wear the tie more loosely around your neck but still under the collar. It’s half bolo-tie happy hour, half jewelry, but full-on badass if you can pull it off.
A loose bolo tie worn like a necklace can be a casual accent for any outfit. You can wear your bolo tie with virtually anything, especially since bolo ties come in so many styles and combinations.
Westerners are casual. It’s just how we are. We’re cool under pressure, keep our composure, and like to take it easy. It’s almost like we don’t even sweat!
A loose bolo tie, worn like a necklace, is a casual accent for any outfit. Since bolo ties come in many styles, with endless slide and cord combinations, you can wear them with anything.
- Pair your denim jacket with a bolo tie and combine it with jeans and boots to give yourself a fun casual look.
- Loosen your bolo tie to turn it into a necklace for a more casual look, and match it with your other accessories.
- Wear a bolo tie with a T-shirt and wear the slide low. Casual shirts paired with shorts or shorter skirts will make the bolo more like an accessory than formal neckwear.
- Also, wearing the slide halfway or lower will make it look more like an accessory than a tie.
- Use a semi-button-up shirt for a semi-casual bolo look. You can pair it with a vest for a more Western look. Complete your look with pants or a shorter skirt and boots
The Traditional Way
Worn with class and confidence, a traditionally worn bolo tie accentuates your suit or outfit, bringing more than a hint of Western. Traditionally, bolo ties are worn like any other necktie, with a collared shirt buttoned to the top and the tie firm to your neck.
It is recommended to keep beards short enough to see bolo ties. These accessories are great for any party, wedding, or business event. It adds a country flair to any formal outfit that won’t go unnoticed.
This look features the traditional bolo tie style with just the right amount of class.
Lucchese crocodile boots, a Greg Jensen buckle set, and the Pinto Ranch YY Collection shirt give a stately foundation to your outfit, while 34 Heritage jeans and the Pinto Ranch plaid western sport coat give you a modern, understated edge.
Tie it all together with the Silver King Oval Onyx bolo tie and steal the show.
The Classic Way
There is no correct or wrong way to wear a bolo tie. Traditionally, bolo ties are worn like any other neckties, with a collared shirt buttoned to the top and the tie firm to your neck to achieve a sophisticated and formal appearance.
Bolo ties are easy to wear and do not require complicated knots.
If you’re going for the “classic look,” you need to make sure that:
- Wear your bolo beneath the collar of button-up shirts.
- Finish with the right shoes. Black pants look well with black shoes, and you can wear brown shoes with other colored pants. Formal wear is best completed for women with a closed-toe shoe or heel.
- Select a bolo tie that matches or complements your attire. Choose a black bolo with an all-silver or all-gold slide and tips for a classic look.
- Use the right length bolo proportionate to your height and neck size. It is recommended that the bolo should end about 4 inches below your breastbone.
- And lastly, wear it with confidence! If you’re going to wear a bolo tie, you have to own it.
- People will either love your bolo tie or hate your bolo tie but don’t worry about people’s opinions, wear your bolo tie boldly!
The Self-Aware Nod
With this look, you’re embracing the bolo tie as it’s meant to be worn: like any other tie. Button your shirt (short- or long-sleeved) up, tighten the clasp, and command the style like a bull rider. Keep that confidence high…or you’ll look like a rodeo clown.
Ditch the collar and pair the bolo tie with a tank top, denim jacket, or any other “festival wear” for a more laid-back style. We admit it’s a little Coachella-cliché, but maybe you and Macklemore will lock eyes and have a moment. Lucky you.
The Western Way
Wear with Western or buttoned-down shirts. Because of their rugged and casual appearance, bolo ties are best matched with a more casual dress shirt like a Western dress shirt or any shirt with a buttoned-down collar like an oxford or denim shirt.
Add a sport coat with some texture, and you have a sharp look.
Some folks have worn bolo ties like a necklace, sporting them with t-shirts. This strays too far from the bolo tie’s classic Western roots and looks weird. Stick with shirts that have a collar.
The Semi-formal Way
Whether you’re from the Southwest or not, you can easily pair a bolo tie with formal or casual clothing for a stylish look.
What follows is a way you can wear a bolo tie in a semi-formal way:
- Pick a bolo that suits your style. This range of occasions is where you can get away with a little more of a style statement for your look.
- Think classic turquoise stone, a colored chord, or something else, but still a little on the classier side.
- Select a colored button-up shirt. A semi-formal bolo look will also do best with a button-up shirt. However, unlike more formal occasions, you can start to introduce some color.
- Solid, somewhat muted colors will give that slightly more relaxed feel while not distracting your bolo tie.
- A suit jacket may be a little too formal. Instead, pick a vest to stick with the Western feel.
- Cinch the slide to just below your top button. In this scenario, you wouldn’t button your collar button or the one below it.
- This is where the slide should sit just beneath. It doesn’t look too sloppy, but just like the buttoning of the shirt beneath, it is still appropriately formal.
- Complete your look with pants. A khaki chino pants or well-tailored jeans can be good for a masculine look.
- Wear more casual shoes. Semi-formal is a bit of a scale where you can wear a leather loafer, a boot (if you have any), or even a clean sneaker.
Choosing The Perfect Bolo Tie
Materials and Craftsmanship
When selecting a bolo tie, pay attention to the materials and craftsmanship. High-quality materials like sterling silver, turquoise, leather, and braided cords ensure durability and an authentic look. Handcrafted bolo ties often showcase unique designs and intricate details, making them stand out in any ensemble.
Selecting the Right Size and Weight
Bolo ties come in various sizes and weights. Consider your body frame and personal style when choosing the appropriate size. Larger and heavier bolo ties can be eye-catching and create a bold statement, while smaller and lighter ones offer a more subtle touch.
Exploring Various Designs and Embellishments
From traditional silver and turquoise designs to modern interpretations featuring gemstones, enamel, and intricate metalwork, a bolo tie suits every taste. Consider your wardrobe and personal preferences when exploring the various designs available.
If you’re a fashion enthusiast looking to elevate your style with unique accessories, learn stylish ways to rock a bandana in our guide.
The bolo tie is more than just a neck accessory; it’s a piece of history and culture that has found its way into contemporary fashion. The bolo tie offers many possibilities, whether you’re attending a formal event, looking to spice up your casual wear, or exploring gender-neutral fashion choices. You can confidently wear this timeless accessory with a modern twist by understanding the different tying techniques, selecting the right bolo tie for your outfit, and mastering the art of coordination. So, embrace the charm and allure of the bolo tie to make a bold and unique fashion statement wherever you go. Happy styling!