By now street style has co-opted much from other parts of the fashion world, but nothing offers more possibility than the NBA’s favourite neck accessory, the bow tie. Not quite as stuffy as a necktie and leagues more stylish than nothing at all, it’s the perfect finishing touch for ballers who want to express themselves off the court. Here are five ways to pull off the bow with as much swagger as the pros.
J.R. Smith: dress it down, layer up
No tux, no problem. The key to an ensemble that incorporates a casual bow tie is adding some layers. That way, the tie isn’t the centre of attention, but rather pulls together an outfit consisting of overlapping elements. J.R. Smith here uses a plain black butterfly bow tie large enough to bridge the open collar of his BASCO leather-sleeved varsity jacket, which he wears over an untucked blue Oxford.
Russell Westbrook: don’t stop there
Bow ties are already a mark of irreverence, so why let the fun end? Here, Russell Westbrook piles accessories on top of his red bow tie, including matching suspenders, a fedora and glasses to create his signature geek look. The original bow tie shape—the batwing—has a squared-off end, giving it a more compact appearance than the basic butterfly. Batwings are best worn when the situation calls for a smaller tie, like when you want to avoid looking like a comic book character wearing one with an especially thin collar.
Dwyane Wade: go wild
Bow ties have become so divorced from the stuffy quarters of formalwear that most of the rules have gone out the window. And we like that. We’d still recommend keeping them tied, but Dwyane Wade makes a good point mixing patterns and textures to create a bold statement with his Tie Bar Dali’s paisley bow (it’s actually a part of his own signature collection). Mastering both layering and texture matching, you can easily up your style game with a simple neck piece that’s jauntier than a full-length neck tie.
Amar’e Stoudemire: keep it real
Think again if you’re about to reach for a generic clip-on for your next formal event. The difference between a pre-tied (and thus permanently poorly-proportioned) butterfly and a self-tied is night and day. The slight quirks are what make it. Here, Amar’e Stoudemire’s bow is slightly off-centre, revealing the layers and the enviable creases of the leaf. Just like when you’re preening a pocket square, don’t take too much time to give it that perfectly imperfect look and wear it with confidence.
Nick Young: ditch it altogether