How to Pick a Bow Tie and Pocket Square Combo
People frequently ask us “what goes with what?”
But there are many times when it’s clear that customers know how to pair things up. This is one of those times.
Today, Erica packed up and shipped this combination. As you can tell, this customer has a great eye.
But what are they seeing? You know a good combo when you see it, but how do you see it before you see it? How do you pick a pair of pieces out that you’re confident will work?
Here are three basic things to keep in mind when you decide to try and pair two patterns together:
1. Complementary Colors.
You don’t have to be an art student to see that there are 3 distinct shades of blue here. There are 2 on the bow tie. Plus a purple, which might actually be blue–who knows. But at minimum, there’s a dark and a light blue. Then you’ve got the pocket square, which is medium-blue. It’s right in between the dark and light blue of the bow tie.
What does this mean? It means that the square and bow don’t “match.” Matching is not the goal. Complementary is the goal.
Sometimes it really is as simple as “Hey, look! Blue. And this is blue too! I’ll take them both.”
2. Vary the Scale.
This is where people usually get gun shy. It feels harder to say “this pattern will go great with that one!” than it is to say “Hey, look! Blue! And more blue!”
But don’t get intimidated. Here’s the deal with patterns.
Keep the scale different. If you have dots that are really close to each other, don’t pair them with a striped pattern where the stripes are equally close to each other.
If the dots are spread wide, don’t reach for wide-spred stripes.
If you’ve got a somewhat busy, medium-scale paisley like this bow tie, don’t pair it with a super-busy pattern of any sort.
Keep it simple, like with this chambray pocket square: solid blue, tiny white dots.
3. Own it.
When Ellie recorded her full-length album with Nashville producer/singer-songwriter Andrew Osenga, he gave us a principle that has stuck with us. He said, if you’re playing an instrument or singing, and you hit a wrong note that seems out of place, just keep hitting it over and over again. Own it. Then it looks like you know what you’re doing. Like you meant it. Pretty soon, everybody will be like “yeah, man. Yeah.”
Then go back and practice your scales.
Same with picking out your clothes. Keep a few guiding tips in mind (color and scale), and then just go for it. If you feel like maybe you hit the wrong note, just keep hitting it. Own it. In other words, try something out, and wear it all day with gusto. “Pulling something off” is all about confidence–even when it’s technically “wrong.”
Then try something different next time—or not.
Do you think this fella pictured here cares about my “rule” about scale? He’s got stripes (shirt) and check (bow tie) in almost exactly the same scale. But he owns it. If you look at his blog, it’s pretty sure he’s in the “break the rules” phase rather than the “what are the rules?” phase.
If you like this combo …
You can grab the Denholm silk paisley bow tie here.
And the Cobalt Blue Dot chambray pocket square here.