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Should You Wear A Tie Or Bow Tie For Prom?

Black tone on tone striped bow tie on a sequin background

A bow tie and tuxedo is the traditional prom attire for guys. This is what your parents and grandparents likely wore to prom. But, nowadays, you don’t have to follow tradition. Today, high school proms have a mixture of guys wearing neckties and bow ties. This can make it hard to decide which tie style to wear to your own prom. Luckily, we have some pointers. Here’s how to determine if you should wear a tie or bow tie to prom.

Check The Dress Code

Before going further, you need to take a look at your prom’s dress code, if there is one. This might be on a flyer, your school’s website, or ask someone on the prom committee. The more formal the event, the more likely you should wear a bow tie to prom. Neckties are a bit more casual in formal wear. How formal prom is varies from high school to high school. Many times it’s location that determines the formality. A prom at a hotel or similar venue is likely more formal than prom in a high school gymnasium. Sometimes prom is a “black tie” event. If yours is, too, then your tie style is already predetermined for you. Black tie events mandate a solid black bow tie. That bow tie can be pre-tied or a self-tie, just make sure you know how to tie a bow tie.

Tying Skills (Might Be) Required

Sometimes the style of tie you wear to prom is determined by whether or not you can tie a tie. If you can’t tie a necktie, YouTube is a great place to learn. If you don’t have the time, then we recommend a pre-tied band collar bow tie. To wear a band collar bow tie, all you have to do is adjust the neck band to your size, secure it closed and your bow tie is on.

A word of advice: Don’t assume that you’ll be able to learn how to tie a tie quickly. That perfect knot can take practice, so if you’re the perfectionist type you might consider grabbing a pre-tied bow tie as a backup. Make sure that bow tie you’re purchasing is pre-tied and not a self-tie or freestyle bow tie that you must tie yourself.

Date’s Preference

If you really don’t have a preference as to which style of tie you wear to prom, ask your date. She might have a vision in mind for what you two will look like as a couple, and the style of tie might be part of it. Plus, let’s face it gentlemen, females are usually a bit more fashionable than us guys, so she probably already knows which tie style you’ll look best in.

Don’t stress out about asking her. When you ask her what color her prom dress is, ask her about your tie style, too. Wait…let’s circle back. It’s really important to ask your date the color of her prom dress. You need to know this so you know which color tie to buy and the color of the flowers and ribbon to tell the florist for her corsage or bouquet.

Ask Around

Have you asked your friends which style of tie they are wearing to prom? They are a great resource to help you decide. If everyone says they are wearing bow ties, go with a bow tie, too. If everyone is wearing neckties, you know what to wear. If it’s a mix of both, then you get to decide for yourself.

P.S. Styles aren’t going to change too much from one year to the next, so last year’s high school yearbook is a great place to look when deciding what to wear to prom. There are usually a few pages dedicated to prom, and it’s going to be full of photos. Check out what the guys are wearing in the pics. All bow ties, all neckties, a mix? Follow suit from last year’s style.

Be Comfortable

This is the most important piece of advice we can give when it comes to picking out your prom tie. Whether it’s a necktie or bow tie, wear a tie that you’ll be comfortable in. You are the one wearing it, so you should like what you’re wearing. If you really don’t like bow ties, don’t wear one. If neckties get in your way, wear a bow tie. We probably shouldn't be telling you this since we’re a tie company, but some teenagers completely skip the prom tie and simply wear a pocket square with their prom suit or tux. As long as the rest of your outfit is formal, you’ll look great at prom even without a tie.

In Conclusion

While prom was traditionally a bow tie event, styles have changed and the necktie is making an appearance at prom nowadays, too. There are several easy ways to determine which style of tie you should wear to prom, from checking the dress code, asking your date for advice, asking your friends what they are wearing or checking last year’s yearbook photos. Overall though, wear the tie that makes you comfortable.

About TieMart

TieMart is an online retailer of men’s neckties, bow ties and other accessories. A wide selection of pattern ties are available at TieMart, including popular paisley ties for weddings, traditional plaid ties for the office and collegiate two-color striped ties for graduation or school uniforms. Send in a picture and you can even create a custom photo tie. TieMart ties are affordable and ship quickly from their Midwest location.


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We are a family-run tie company based in Illinois. We've been in the biz since the late 90s, so by now we know a thing or two about men's fashion and accessories. Tiepedia is our lil spot on the web to share that knowledge with you.