Your Guide to Bow Ties
Pre-Tied Bow Tie: A pre-tied bow tie refers to a bow tie that is already formed into a fixed bow, and is fastened onto a collar using an adjustable neckstrap. The image shows the pre-formed bow and the neckstrap used to fasten the bow around your neck. A single pre-tied bow tie can fit a wide range of neck sizes and is adjusted using a slider or a ladder style fastening as described below.
Ready-Tied Bow Tie: A ready-tied bow tie is essentially the same as a pre-tied bow in that it is already formed into a bow tie, but the resulting finish looks as if it’s a self-tie bow tie that has been tied. This means the bow is made of two parts resulting in a double bow on either side of a (usually) twisted centre knot, as can be seen the image alongside.
Clip-On Bow Tie: The clip-on bow tie is another pre-tied format, but instead of a neckstrap to fasten the bow around the neck, it comes with a small clip on the back of the bow which hooks over the top button of your shirt. This is sometimes preferred for those who struggle to fasten the neckstrap, or want to wear a shirt collar without showing the neckstrap. There are no varying adjustments for neck sizes with clip-on bow ties as they have a one size fits all design.
Self-Tie Bow Tie: The self-tie bow tie is the DIY option, and comes as a single strip of fabric that you then tie into a bow yourself. This can take a bit of practice, but comes with quite a sense of achievement once you’ve done it! Self-tie bow ties are adjustable to fit a variety of neck sizes, and can either have a hook and slide fastener or a ladder style adjustment as described below.
Bow Tie Fabrics:
Cotton: Cotton is a common fabric for bow ties, especially for novelty bow ties where the range of themes available is much greater than with other fabrics. The advantage of cotton is that designs can be easily printed straight onto the cotton, making it a popular choice when a wide range of designs is required.
Silk: Most fashion bow ties are made from silk, although you will find some in the other fabrics in this guide. Many of the silk bow ties we have are made from Italian silk, which is considered a higher quality silk than the Chinese silk some bow ties are made from, so look out for the bows that specify Italian Silk in the name or description if that's what you'd prefer.
Polyester: Some bow ties are made from polyester, which is usually slightly hardier than cotton or silk, but also cheaper. The finish is usually quite soft or smooth, so a good quality poly bow tie may look and feel somewhat similar to some silk bow ties. Many plain bow ties have a satin finish which improves the look and feel of the bow.
Velvet: Although there aren't a huge amount of velvet bow ties available, they are usually found in a handful of plain colours. These will almost always be pre-tied only, as the nature of velvet makes constructing and tying a self-tie velvet bow tie tricky.
Other: Some bow ties may also be labelled as acrylic or mixed fibres. These tend to have similar descriptions to polyester and cotton bow ties, and the fabric choice is usually due to the type of design that may not be suitable for cotton or silk.
Types of Fastening:
Neckstrap: Most pre-tied bow ties come with a neckstrap that you wrap around your neck inside your collar and then fasten with a hook at the back of the bow tie. The neckstrap will usually have a metal sliding adjuster to enable you to change the length of the strap to fit your neck. In some case this slider will be visible on the strap, so if you're wearing a wing collar shirt for example where the collar isn't folded down. Others have the slide adjuster hidden under the fabric of the neckstrap so it's not visible, so look out for this in the description if that's what you need. In most cases though, it's hidden by your collar anyway, so it's not as important then.
Hook & Clasp Fastening: This is the most common fastening method, and simply involves a hook at one end of the neckstrap and a clasp at the other. When you put your bow tie on, you fit the hook into the clasp and the adjust the size slider to fit your neck.
Ladder Fastening: The ladder fastening also has a hook but instead of a fixed clasp at the end of the neckstrap, the neckstrap has a number of small slits in it which represent varying neck sizes. You simply hook into one of the slits until the bow fits around your neck comfortably.
Self-Tie Adjustments: Self-tie bow ties work slightly differently as you're tying them yourself, but the length of the whole bow will need to be adjusted to your neck size before you start tying it. This may be either the slide adjuster or ladder adjustment described above.
Clip-on: Although a clip-on bow tie is pre-tied, it doesn't need a neckstrap as the back of the bow has a small clip which you clip onto the top button of your shirt.
Bow Ties Sizes:
Regular vs Narrow: In most bow tie product pages you'll see further details about the bow tie, including the sizes. The main area here is the bow height, which can vary from 2" (5cm) which is classed as a narrow bow tie, to 6.5cm (2.5") which is slightly larger than the average 6cm (2.3"). There are bow ties much larger than that, but in most cases, unless you want an exceptionally large or exceptionally narrow bow tie, the average and larger average bow tie will be by far the most common sizes and will suit pretty much every situation.
Bow Tie Designs:
Fashion Bow Ties: Available mainly in silk but also in a variety of other fabrics, fashion bow ties cover everything that's not just one single colour or novelty / themed. The choices are usually quite considerable, from polka dots to stripes, and glitter to floral. Fashion bow ties are particularly versatile as they can be used casually at work or out in the evening, and for smart casual and formal wear.
Novelty Bow Ties: Novelty bow ties usually follow a particular theme, such as a country's flag, or an animal of sorts. This makes them especially suitable as gifts, as well as portraying your own interests in a fun way.
Plain Bow Ties: A plain bow tie is a single coloured bow tie without any pattern or theme. The same colour is consistent throughout the bow, making it particularly useful for colour matching for a wedding or for use with a number of different outfits.
Alternative Designs: There are a handful of bow ties that don't fit into one of the standard categories listed above, inluded Western Bow Ties (as in Kentucky Colonel) and Crossover Bow Ties (often used for period or staff uniforms).
Neck Sizes – Measuring your Neck:
Using a standard clothing measuring tape, measure your neck by placing the measuring tape around your neck in line where your shirt collar would be, keeping the tape to the base of your neck, so the tape meets where your top button would be. Keep a finger behind the tape where the ends meet at the front of your neck to allow a bit of space for comfort. Read the measurement from the tape to get your neck size.
How to Tie a Bow Tie:
For step-by-step instructions on how to tie a self-tie bow tie, see this guide.
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