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How to Pick the Best Boys' Ties

Updated on August 1, 2011

In a world flooded by men's dies, boys' ties can easily be buried in corners of stores or difficult to find online, but this does not make them any less important or stylish.  Whether worn as part of a uniform, donned for a special formal occasion, or added as a finishing touch to a generally well put-together outfit, boys' ties make for excellent accessories.

Below I'll walk you through the basic types of boys' ties, give you a bit of history, discuss different occasions and places where boys' ties are most common, and also discuss ways boys' ties have been adapted by women.  I'll finish up with some good places to find boys' ties so you'll not have any trouble finding some for yourself.

Different Types of Boys' Ties

There are several major types of boys' ties:

  • Traditional (often seen in solids or patterns, but also available in prints)
  • Bow ties
  • Skinny ties (very hard to find- typically only sold in adult sizes)
  • Formal uniform ties (these can be broken down to more generic school ties, customized school ties, and then house ties, which signify not only attendance in a certain school, but also membership within a certain house of that school)
  • Clip-on ties (are affixed around the neck with a clip, making them easier to put on)
  • Zipper ties (are tightened and loosened around the neck with a convenient pulling action made possible by a zipper - these are even easier to put on than clip-on ties and are perfect for kids who are only just starting to wear ties and cannot tie their own)

The History Behind Boys' Ties

Boys' ties have existed almost as long as men's ties in general.  The modern men's tie can be somewhat connected to the cravat, which first emerged in the 17th Century and was inspired by tied neckcloths worn by soldiers from Croatia.  

Though only grown men started out wearing cravats, forms of decorative neckcloths were soon adapted for children, and ties became common accessories for young boys when it became common to wear them as part of a school uniform.

Boys' ties soon became major elements in school uniforms, and school-specific ties became symbolic of one's education long after graduation.  

Ties and School Uniforms

Boys' ties worn as part of a school uniform are most interesting when considered within the context of the British school systems.  School ties were more than mere elements of a uniform- they were prestigious tokens of association that boys may continue to wear long after graduation.

An old school tie worn after graduation is similar to a class ring worn after graduation in America - it indicates a sort of club-like membership (with typically old-boy network connotations) and can be seen as tokens used for networking and presentation of power or prestige.

If you come across an old school tie in a thrift store, think twice before wearing it around - etiquette has it that old school ties can only be worn by graduates of that tie's school.

Ties and Formal Occasions

When not being worn to school, boy's ties will typically be worn at formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals, charity events, visits to see the symphony, opera, and ballet, etc...

The history and etiquette surrounding boys' ties worn at formal occasions is less nuanced than that of school settings, however when selecting colors and styles, be sure to consider the formality of the occasion, season, and time of day (lighter ties are more common in morning and afternoon events, deeper colors are more commonly worn at evening events).  

Boys' Ties as a Feminine Accessories

Over the years as men's pants have fallen to lower and lower points along men's waists, ties have grown longer.  This natural evolution has made it a bit more difficult for women to find ties that fit them well, as they're often too long for their torsos.  

For this reason, boy's ties make for excellent women's ties - they're just about the right size, and many of the clip on or zipper versions are good choices for women who do not know how to tie ties or do not want to take the time to muddle around with knots in the morning.

Nautica Dress Up Boys Oxford Shirt And Tie Set
Nautica Dress Up Boys Oxford Shirt And Tie Set

Nautica is a common brand utilized by schools for uniforms.


The Best Places to Find Boys' Ties

If you are looking to buy your son a tie for school, it would be best to go through your school's sanctioned supplier(s).  This is especially important if the tie has a special crest or pattern that is designed specifically for the school.

If you want to go to a store to buy boy's ties, my favorite place is Brooks Brothers.  I think their boys' ties are charming, and the quality is quite nice, too.  They also usually have nice assortment of bow ties, which look really cute on the young'ins!

When purchasing boys' ties online, I always opt for  The site has all sorts of ties, including my personal favorite: zipper ties! also has plenty of boy and uniform-friendly ties, so if you are getting a more generic school tie, you may find luck there.

You can also find a wealth of vintage ties on eBay, and all sorts of ties on Amazon.  

Happy hunting!


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