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Types of School Uniform Ties

A navy blue crossover uniform tie on top of a school notebook

Ties are a great way to top off a school uniform. But there are many styles of school uniform ties and one style does not suit every student. Often, the type of tie worn depends on the age and gender of the student. Before buying uniform ties for your student body, take a look at the options available so that even the youngest students will be able to put their ties on unassisted.

Standard Uniform Neckties

Let’s start with a classic: The standard necktie. Standard ties are the most popular school uniform option, particularly among high school students. This option requires the student to tie the tie by hand, a process that may be difficult for younger students and tedious for parents to help with each day. However, by late middle school to high school the students are definitely capable of tying a tie each morning.

Standard ties come in a variety of lengths and widths to accommodate pre-teens to young adults. Keep in mind that the tip of a tie should fall to about the belt line. For most pre-teens under 13-years old, a children’s 48-inch long necktie is going to fit the best. Older students (14+) will most likely wear an adult-size tie measuring 57-inches long. While a traditional-width men’s tie measures 3.5-inches wide, this might look too big on a smaller-framed student. However, ties come in narrower widths to create a more proportional look for those students who are in between sizes.

The standard necktie is a classic in school uniforms, but must be tied everyday.

Pre-Tied Uniform Ties

Pre-tied ties are the most popular style of school uniform ties for elementary students as they provide ease of wear, which aids in compliance. Choose from zipper ties, clip-on ties, breakaway ties or pre-tied bow ties. These styles feature pre-tied knots that the wearer can simply slip around their neck and zip or clip closed. Each style has their own benefit, and it’s really up to the discretion of the individual school as to which style is worn.

Zipper Ties

Zipper ties are kid friendly and stay in place throughout the school day. This pre-tied option secures via a loop that goes around the neck. A zipper (hence the name) is hidden in the tie tail and unzips to allow the loop to expand over the student’s head. (Just give that loop a small tug to unzip it.) To tighten the loop, pull down on the tie tail and zip it back up to size. There is a slight learning curve to using the zipper, but this option is still easier than tying a traditional tie and provides the same aesthetic when worn.

Since the knot is already existing, the lengths of pre-tied ties are shorter than regular ties and measured from the top of that knot to the tip of the tie. An 11-inch zipper tie will reach the belt line of most preschool students ages 2 to 5 years. A 14-inch tie is typically sized for elementary students 6- to 10-years old. The next length of tie is usually 16- to 17-inches long and is appropriate for pre-teens and some teens, including many female high school students. A regular adult-size zipper tie measures 20-inches long, which is what most high schools choose for their student body. Longer, 22-inch+ lengths may be available too, but this is rare for high school students to wear. While most children’s zipper ties are the same traditional width, zipper ties for teens and adults may come in different widths. However, most pre-tied ties meant for uniform wear already have a slightly narrowed size.

Zipper ties are the most secure option of pre-tied school uniform ties.

Clip-On Ties

Tried and true, clip-on ties are perhaps the most user-friendly style of uniform neckwear out there. Students of all ages can attach the tie to their collar simply by lifting the clip lever away from the knot, placing the clip behind their shirt’s top button and pushing down on the knot to secure the tie in place. While it’s also a safe choice with no material around the neck, the downfall of the clip-on tie is that it is so easy to take off and put on, take off and put on, take off and put on. Some students may repeatedly fidget with the knot during class.

Just like zipper ties, clip-on ties come in a very wide variety of sizes to accommodate an entire student body, from pre-k to high school. For preschool aged children 2- to 5-years old, 11-inch clip-on ties are usually appropriate. Elementary aged children in the 6- to 10-year old group typically wear a 14-inch long clip-on tie. Pre-teens and older students fit into a range of lengths measuring from 17-, 20- and 22-inches long. (Just like zipper ties, 20-inch long clip-on ties are the regular adult size and likely what high school students will wear.) Like other styles of ties, different widths are often available as you move into those longer length adult ties.

Clip-on ties are simple to add and remove, so even elementary age students can put their ties on themselves.

Breakaway Ties

The breakaway tie is a great option for school uniforms because it combines the best features of a zipper tie and a clip-on tie. First, like a zipper tie it features a band that goes around the student’s neck, which helps to keep it secure around the collar. However, it has the added safety benefit of a clip-on tie in that the tie can quickly be removed from around the neck simply by tugging on it. (Hence the name “breakaway”.)

Breakaway ties are easy to put on. The collar is adjustable to the student’s size and clasps shut. As tempting as it may be, for longevity the student shouldn’t forcefully tug the tie off each day.

Breakaway ties come in many of the same lengths as other pre-tied ties. Look for a 14-inch length for elementary aged students (up to about 10-years old), 16- or 17-inch lengths for pre-teens and 20-inch lengths for high school students and older.

The breakaway tie has a loop that goes around the neck, just like a zipper tie. However, it can quickly be removed by tugging slightly on the tie.

Bow Ties

Pre-tied bow ties are not as common of a choice when choosing school uniform attire, but they certainly have their place. Adjustable band collar pre-tied bow ties are a great option for special school events where more formal group attire is required, like band and choir concerts and graduation. Without any material hanging, they may also stay cleaner than a necktie and potentially last longer in school environments. To attach the bow tie, the student must first adjust the band collar to their neck size, then wrap the band around their shirt collar and secure it closed.

Sizing is pretty simple with pre-tied bow ties as there are usually only two sizes available: Boys' or children's and men's or adults'. Most children's bow ties fit students up to about 10-years old. Students over 10-years old usually wear the adult size.

Bow ties are worn less often than neckties in school uniforms and are sometimes reserved for special occasions. However, with no material hanging they may stay clean longer than a necktie.

Girls' Uniform Ties

Standard neckties, zipper ties, clip-on ties and bow ties are perfectly good options for unisex wear, but there are a few tie styles to set female students’ attire part, including crossover ties and floppy bow ties.

Crossover Ties

Crossover ties are the most traditional choice for female student uniforms. They are easy to use by students of any age as no tying is required. Simply adjust the band to the appropriate neck size, cross one end over the other and snap closed.

Sometimes the color or pattern of the crossover ties will match the male students’ ties, sometimes not. Crossover ties are more common in solid colors and school plaids than stripes. However, a solid color crossover tie can usually be found to match one of the colors in a striped tie.

Crossover ties are the traditional choice for a female school uniform tie that's different than the male students.

Floppy Bow Ties

A floppy bow tie is essentially a butterfly style bow tie that the ends flop down. In the United States, the floppy bow tie is a less traditional school uniform choice, but certainly appropriate for female students. It provides a similar look to the crossover tie, but adds a little flair. These pre-tied floppy bows feature an adjustable collar just like a band collar bow tie. The student has to simply adjust the band to their neck size, wrap it around their collar, then secure the clasp to close.

Just like the crossover tie, floppy bow ties are more common in solid colors and school plaids. However, a solid color floppy bow tie will certainly match a striped school tie, too.

The floppy bow tie is easy to put on and another choice for female-specific school uniforms.

In Conclusion

School uniform ties come in many different styles, from regular neckties to easy-to-use pre-tied ties and options meant for the female students. While some schools select one style of tie for all, others mix and match among the student body. Once your school decides which tie best suits its students, it’s time to consider the tie pattern: Solid, striped, plaid or perhaps a custom option.

About TieMart

TieMart carries a wide variety of school uniform ties to suit students of all ages and sizes, including standard ties, pre-tied ties, crossover ties and more. Match your school colors with TieMart’s vast collection of solid colors, stripes and school plaids. These uniform ties are durable and easy to clean, which is an important factor when choosing neckwear for children. Large quantities are kept in stock at TieMart’s Midwest location and additional discounts are available on bulk orders.


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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.