What Are Bolo Ties? 3 Things You Need to Know

We’re going to make a bold fashion choice today. Rather than rock a run-of-the-mill tie, we’re going to try to leave the house in a bolo tie.

Hold on, before you laugh, take a second and think about why we dress a certain way. We want to look good, but we also want to make a statement. If the statement you want to make is a bold one, then a bolo tie might be exactly what you want.

But don’t just throw a bolo tie on with any outfit. First, take a minute to learn a bit about what a bolo tie actually is and how to wear one correctly. Let’s also learn what to actually we with a bolo tie, as matching it with the appropriate outfit makes all the difference between a sharp and sophisticated statement and a ridiculous-looking outfit.

What Is a Bolo Tie?

Before we talk about how to wear one let’s take a moment to look at the what—as in, what actually is a bolo tie?

Essentially, a bolo tie is a braided cord of leather that’s fed through a clasp or slide. The leather will usually have metal tips. The clasp will often have some sort of precious stone or design that gives the bolo tie a bit more flair and makes it stand out. Think of this as you would the designs people tend to get on a traditional necktie.

If you’re picturing a very western look, like something Wyatt Earp may have worn in his prime, then your imagination is spot on.

How to Wear a Bolo Tie

As far as actually wearing a bolo tie goes, it’s quite easy. You simply wrap the leather around your neck and pull the clasp up.

If you’re going for a very casual look, don’t pull it all the way to your collar. Think of this as wearing a traditional necktie tied loosely around your neck.

If you’re going to a formal event (and one where a bolo tie won’t look completely out of the ordinary), pull it snug to your collar so the clasp sits where the knot on a traditional necktie would.

Outside of how to physically wear a bolo tie (which is quite easy), there’s the mental aspect of wearing one. Depending on where you live, you may be making a very bold statement by wearing this accessory. If you live in New Mexico, people probably won’t even give a second look. If you live in New York City, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

So the key is to own the look. Anytime you make a bold statement, you need to do so with confidence. Don’t look embarrassed to be wearing a tie that’s a bit different, because this will rub off on other people.

What to Wear With a Bolo Tie

Obviously, a bolo tie is a very distinct and western look, so you’re not going to want to wear it with just anything. You’d look completely ridiculous rocking a bolo tie with the latest streetwear trend. You’d also look out-of-place wearing one a polo shirt and chinos. There’s a time and a place for everything, and bolo ties might be the reason this expression exists in the first place.

The best shirts to pair with bolo ties are, obviously, western-style button-up shirts. Denim shirts are a great option. However, almost any button-up shirt with a collar can go with a bolo tie, depending on the situation.

As for pants, jeans are the best option, as they fit with the western style offered by a bolo. However, if you elect to wear a denim shirt, make sure you follow the same rules that apply for wearing a denim jacket with denim pants, as you don’t want the look to clash.

If you want to go all-in on the western look, feel free to wear a cowboy hat, but make sure the setting is appropriate, as you’re adding to the bold statement even further, and in some cases, you might be pushing it. You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide what works and what doesn’t in that regard.

Dave LeClair

Dave is a staff writer at Modern Ratio. He's a long-time geek who turned on to style late in life, and now writes to share what he's learned with those who are just starting their own style journeys. He's based in Pennsylvania.