When it comes to choosing a bow tie, there are many aspects to consider. The colour, the shape, the fabric, the pattern, etc. But before all that, there is one major criteria : do you want it to be pre-tied or self-tied ? Let’s see what are the differences, pros and cons.

The difference between pre-tied and self-tied​

A pre-tie bow tie is a bow that can’t be untied. How is it made ? One main piece of fabric, usually a simple rectangle, forms the body of the bow tie. If you picture the bow tie as a butterfly, that would be the wings. Then a small piece of fabric squeezes the middle of the main one to form the center of the bow (or the body of the butterfly). That makes the bow tie, which is then attached to a neck band.

You’ve now probably guessed that a self-tie bow tie is tied manually and therefore can be untied. The whole bow, including the neck strap, is made in one single piece.

Pre-tied vs self-tied : pros and cons

The obvious advantage of a pre-tie bow tie is that you don’t have to know how to tie it. It’s undeniably quicker and hassle-free. You have no risk of doing it badly, as it will always stay as is it, straight and symmetrical. But it has two huge disadvantages that should convince you to switch to “real” bow ties.

The first point to consider is the style you want to get. Let’s face it : the symetry of a pre-tie bow tie gives you a look of boring model student.

Just compare it to hairstyle. One could have a regular french braid, nice, tight and tidy. That’s fine. But it really feels childish and a little too neat.

Now what if the braid gets a bit uneven, with a wispy strand around the face. It’s not perfect, right, but isn’t it a lot more stylish ?

The lesson is : flair is not in perfection ! A bow tie doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s even better if it’s not. It gives a soul to your look, an attractive je ne sais quoi !

Léa Seydoux untidied braid

The second point is the message you want to send. A pre-tie bow tie can’t fool anybody who has ever paid attention to a bow tie. It is absolutely obvious that it’s pre tied. So the message is either “I’m too lazy to bother tying my bow tie” or even worse, “I like to look like a teenager attending prom“.

Would you ever consider wearing a pre-tie necktie with an elastic strap, as when you were a kid ? Hopefully you wouldn’t, no matter how convenient it could be.

Then be a grown-up and please don’t wear a pre-tied bow tie ever again.

Of course, learning how to tie a bow tie is not an easy thing. But it’s not overly complicated either. All you need is find a good step-by-step tutorial, and practice a little bit. Who said style would come with no effort ?

Self-tied and adjustable : the perfect combo

What if you want a self-tied bow tie, but you’re still worried about the tying process ?

Adjustable bow tie

The perfect solution for you is a self-tied bow tie with an adjustable neck band. It allows you to tie your bow tie in advance, and have it ready to use. When the time comes, just clip it and it’s done. The adjustment mechanism will be hidden when you pull down your shirt collar (unless you’re wearing a wing collar, in which case we would recommend a fixed length bow tie).

If you choose an adjustable bow tie, you can lend it to your dad, brother or cousin who has a different collar size, it will work well.

And if you’re a good friend, you could even prepare it for someone else who’s not quite mastering the technique yet.