Self Tie Bow Ties Vs. Pre Tied Vs. Clip On

Self Tie Bow Ties Vs. Pre Tied Vs. Clip On

The “always, sometimes, never” rule that gentlemen recite when buttoning a jacket can also be applied to bow tie options, as in:

  • Always self tie bow ties
  • Sometimes pre tied bow ties
  • Never clip on bow ties

For the nimble-fingered adult, this rule is fair. But perhaps there’s a place for all three. Let’s take a closer look at each type. 

What Is A Self Tie Bow Tie?

Self tie bow ties - known in some circles as freestyle bow ties - are those which you tie yourself. The anatomy of the finest pieces include a woven neck band and lining for stability, sliding hardware for easy adjustment, and high quality bias-cut fabric for stretch.  

Self tie bow ties represent the gold standard among fine accessories for a number of reasons. For starters, there’s something special knotted within the ritual of tying a bow tie. Perhaps it recalls a treasured memory associated with the rite of passage that is learning to hand tie, or maybe it offers a moment of quiet concentration before an important event. 

Then there’s the flexibility of choosing the bow tie style. At R. Hanauer we consistently offer six bow tie shapes:

  • Henry: 2 ¼” Classic
  • Philip: 2 ½” Butterfly
  • Stuart: 3” Butterfly
  • Jackson: 2” Straight
  • Stanley: 2” Diamond
  • Louie: 2 ⅜” Diamond 

How to tie self tie bow ties can be intimidating, but with practice it becomes second nature. There is a standard way to knot a bow tie, and there are subtle ways to add a personal touch - some like a tight and neat bow, some prefer a looser and more full bow, and others like to experiment with an extra twist or two in their knot.

One of the most charming aspects of a hand-tied piece is the elegant asymmetry of the final result, indicating the time and care a gentleman has taken in creating a just-so look. 

Three Men knot self tie bow ties for a wedding

What Is A Pre Tied Bow Tie?

The pre tied bow tie is sold with a perfect knot already sewn into place. The bow cannot be untied or adjusted, although - unlike the clip on bow tie - the neck band can be adjusted.

Putting on a pre tied bow tie is easy - just place the bow in the middle of the collar spread and slide or clip the neck band to a comfortable position. If all goes to plan, the pre tied piece won’t budge one bit. 


pre tied bow tie

A pre tied bow tie is most at home with young boys. It's also used by gentlemen of all ages who either do not know how to tie a bow tie, or lack the fine motor skills to independently do so.

There are two main reasons why a pre tied piece is filed in the “sometimes” category rather than getting top billing:

1) the symmetry of a sewn-together knot makes it obvious that the accessory is pre tied, and

2) pre tied bow ties are typically lower in quality. 

At R. Hanauer, we make every bow tie by hand at our shop in Fort Mill, South Carolina. All of our accessories are made from the finest fabrics, meaning our pre-tied options - which are available in most every pattern - are of the same high quality as our self tie bows and neckties.       

What Is A Clip On Bow Tie?

A clip on bow tie features a pre-knotted and sewn together bow with special hardware - called a bow tie clip - to fasten it in place. There is no neck band with a clip-on piece; it is not an adjustable bow tie. 

pre tied bow tie

Clip on bow ties are usually reserved for infants and toddlers. Very young children might also want to assert their independence when dressing, so a clip on is ideal. And yet other kids won’t sit still long enough even to don a pre-tied piece.

At R. Hanauer, though, we believe even the youngest of lads deserve to look their best. In fact, when our sons were tiny tots we chose quality over novelty and always opted for pre-tied accessories over clip on.  

For those most keen on this option, it’s worth noting how to put on a clip on bow tie. Unlike a tie slide or tie tack, which use the shirt placket or button hole respectively, the clip on bow tie is affixed to either side of the shirt collar. This design element allows the bow tie to be ever-so-slightly suspended off the shirt, enabling a little bit of animation when the young wearer is on the move.


For more bow tie tips and tricks, consider Bow Tie Fashion Rules and How To Pair a Bow Tie and Pocket Square. Share your bow tie style with us too - tag us with #RHanauer on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.