Pre-Tied Bow Ties vs Self-Tie Bow Ties

When it comes to choosing the right bow tie, there are many things to consider. For example, there’s the colour, shape, pattern and fabric to name but a few.

Nonetheless, there’s one choice you should make before all others. Do you go with a pre-tied bow tie or self-tie bow tie?

At Blue Eyes Bow Ties we make both pre-tied bow ties and self-tie bow ties because we know everyone has their own individual preference. After many years in the business, we also know that the debate over pre-tied and self-tie still rages on! In our experience people tend to sit firmly on one side or the other. However, we do sometimes meet that very rare breed of person who is happy to wear either style of bow tie.

Maybe your mind is already made up on the matter, but if not, we’re here to help you make an informed choice. Here we’ll explain both styles and give a list of pros and cons for each.

Pre-Tied Bow Tie

Pre-Tied Bow Tie or Self-Tie Bow Tie: What’s the Difference?

If you aren’t a style aficionado, you may wonder what’s the difference between pre-tied and self-tie bow ties.

As the name suggests, pre-tied bow ties come already tied for you. They are made from two pieces of fabric formed into a bow and stitched in position on a neck band. Apart from the neck band, which can be adjusted to fit your collar size, they can’t be changed or styled in any other way. Their big plus point is that they save you from having to learn how to tie one yourself and are very quick to put on.

Self-tie bow ties come in one or two pieces and are then tied into a bow by the wearer. One-piece bow ties are made to fit your exact collar size whereas two-piece bow ties clip together at the back with a small hook and eye and can be adjusted using a slide buckle to fit your neck size. Both styles require you to tie the bow yourself and therefore lend themselves to greater individuality.

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Tied Bow Ties

Pre-tied bow ties come in handy when you want to make an impression without having to learn how to tie a bow tie and they come in a huge variety of colours and patterns. You can find pre-tied bow ties for almost any occasion.

Benefits of pre-tied bow ties:

  • They are more suitable for thicker fabrics such as wool, tweed and brushed velvet
  • Quick to put on with an instant perfect finish
  • Easy to adjust to fit a wide range of collar sizes
  • Ideal for having embellishments such as crystals
  • Creates a uniform, symmetrical appearance. Great for groomsmen, for example

The symmetry of pre-tied bow ties is definitely a plus point; they always look very neat and tidy. The fact that you can adjust it to fit your collar size means pre-tied bows can change along with your neck size so you’ll never out-grow it. Although, for all its appeal for ease of use and perfect look, it does have some cons.

Here are a few drawbacks of pre-tied bow ties:

  • Pre-tied bow ties are a fixed shape so it’s harder to express your individuality and quirkiness
  • They can look too perfect, particularly to those in the know!
  • Lacks individuality in its shape – most are a standard ‘butterfly’ design
  • They are looked down on by those who believe a true gentleman should never wear a pre-tied bow tie

A pre-tied bow tie is an excellent choice depending on the situation. While it might be in poor taste for a formal wedding or black-tie event, it makes a great bow tie for showing off your style on a night out or as part of a more casual look.

While some people love the pre-tied look, others prefer the old-fashioned way. Certainly, pre-tied bow ties can be cool, but they also have their limitations.

Pre Tied Bow Tie

The Pros and Cons of Self-Tie Bow Ties

There’s no getting around the fact that pre-tied bow ties are more user friendly. They are quick to put on and always result in a perfect bow. But would James Bond ever get caught wearing a pre-tied bow tie? I don’t think so!

Self-tie bow ties are ultra-sophisticated. They are great for special events, weddings, or even when worn with a shirt and jumper for a more casual and jaunty look.

It’s hard to beat the style and class of a self-tie bow tie and you can find a self-tie for every mood or occasion.

Here are some benefits of self-tie bow ties:

  • They give the ‘authentic’ look – it’s the way bow ties were designed to be, before pre-tied bow ties were even invented
  • You can make it unique by the way you tie it and express your own personality in the finished bow
  • Sophisticated – enough said!
  • People will know you tied it yourself and that’ll make you feel good (or a little smug!)
  • You can untie it at the end of the night and hang it around your neck thus implying you’re pretty cool
  • They’re available in many different styles including Butterfly, Batwing, Diamond, Winged etc.

The flexibility to wear a self-tie bow tie the way you choose is a great perk. Additionally, its authentic look and sense of sophistication is hard to beat with any other accessory. Even so, there are some cons to wearing a self-tie bow tie.

Here are some drawbacks of self-tie bow ties:

  • They can be tricky to tie – but not if you follow our guide!
  • If you have a pattern with a right and wrong way up, you’ll need to place the bow tie correctly before tying, in order to make sure the design comes out the right way
  • You’ll need to iron it to get out creases between wears
  • They’re not good for use with thicker fabrics like wool, tweed or brushed velvet

While learning to tie a bow tie isn’t rocket science, it does take work. Some people aren’t about that life. Likewise, having to iron your bow tie after each use can be time consuming. If you love the look and style, it’s definitely worth it though.

Self-Tie Bow Tie

When Is the Right Time for a Pre-Tied Bow Tie?

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons, let’s discuss when’s the right time to wear a pre-tied bow tie. Some people’s style is straight up casual. If this is you, a pre-tied bow tie may speak to you.

So, what occasions work for a pre-tied bow tie?

Night Out

Got a night on the town coming up and want to stand out? Throw on a pre-tied bow tie. Easy to put on (and take off), they make a great accessory to a casual, yet stylish outfit. Bow ties always make a great talking point so you’ll definitely get attention when you’re out and about.

Date Night

Got a hot date? A pre-tied bow tie can strike the right balance between casual, cool, and preppy. No one has to know it’s pre-tied, and even if your date finds out, you’ve probably already impressed them with your unique fashion style and confidence.


Got a wedding coming up? Dress up with a pre-tied bow tie. It’s the perfect complement for a casual wedding. A pre-tied bow tie goes well with a nice suit and looks really lovely with a waistcoat too. Don’t be afraid to stand out at a wedding. While others may take the opportunity to dress safe, you’ll show your pride for the event through your great style.

When Is the Right Time for a Self-Tie Bow Tie?

A self-tie bow tie is a great choice for formal events. Sophisticated and stylish, it makes a statement that you care about your look. But self-tie bow ties are also great to wear with a shirt and sweater for a preppy look, or with a suit for work.

Self-tie bow ties exude confidence. So, if you’ve got a formal event coming up, pull out your self-tie bow tie and knock ‘em dead with your stylish look.

Here are some events that are perfect for a self-tie bow tie.

Black Tie Optional Event

If you see the words “Black Tie Optional” assume it means a tux and bow tie. Classic and sophisticated should be the look. Wear a self-tie bow tie and you’ll blend right in. Usually, you’d be expected to wear a black or white silk bow tie, but you might want to show a bit of personality by adding a stylish touch like a solid 9ct gold disc.

Formal Wedding

Formal weddings are the best opportunity to pull out your favourite self-tie bow tie. For formal weddings, a tux or dark suit makes a great choice, paired with a self-tie bow tie, pocket squares and cufflinks. However, this is a celebration, so don’t be afraid to add a splash of colour to your outfit and show a little personality. Formal weddings are a great time to show your personal style, so take a moment and have fun whilst also staying classy!

Gala or Red Carpet Events

While this is pretty obvious, it deserves mentioning. If you’re lucky enough to get invited to a red-carpet event, take the time to look your best. A pre-tied bow tie won’t cut it for this type of shindig. You need the real deal. If you don’t feel confident tying a bow tie it’s definitely worth taking the time to learn how to tie that self-tie bow tie. You’ll be so glad you did.

Date Night

Yes, you can get away with a pre-tied bow tie on a date, but why would you want to? If this is a special date, take the time to look special. If the date extends past dinner and drinks, drape your bow tie casually around your neck and your partner can always use it to pull you in for a kiss!

For more ideas on when to wear a bow tie, have a read of our ‘When to Wear a Bow Tie’ article.

There’s a Bow Tie for Everyone!

Whether you go for a pre-tied bow tie or a self-tie bow tie, wear your choice with confidence. In the end, it’s all about picking a bow tie that works for your style needs. We have bow ties fit for everyone, so be sure to browse our shop for the latest looks in pre-tied bow ties and self-tie bow ties.

While you're at it, check out our beautiful range of cufflinks and pocket squares. They make great accessories for any bow tie moment.

Pre-Tied Bow Ties

For other helpful resources, you might want to check out…

  • Our ‘How to Tie a Bow Tie’ guide provides step-by-step instructions to help you tie the perfect bow tie. Here you’ll find a really useful video and written instructions.
  • If you’re interested in the history of bow ties and the different shapes and designs available, you may like to read our ‘Types of Bow Tie Styles’ article.
  • Have you ever wondered when’s a good time to wear a bow tie? Try our ‘When to Wear a Bow Tie’ article to get some inspiration.
  • Are you attending a wedding this year? You might be a guest or a groom wondering whether you should wear a necktie or bow tie. If so, our useful ‘Bow Tie or Tie?’ guide might help you make up your mind.
  • For style tips and advice on choosing the best bow tie to wear to a wedding, for grooms and guests, try the 'Wedding Bow Tie Ideas' guide.
  • For 9 ways to fold a very handsome pocket square, try our 'Dapper Ways to Fold a Pocket Square' guide.
  • And for the ultimate guide to bow ties try our 'Definitive Bow Tie Guide'.
  • Bamboozled by pocket square rules? Take a look at our comprehensive 'Pocket Square Rules' guide.