Let’s face it: Ties can be terrifying. Indeed, for many men, wearing a tie is about as much fun as putting a noose around their necks (seriously, I’ve met men who have shunned formal events simply to avoid wearing a tie). Could likening a tie to a noose perhaps have something to do with the fact that most everyone, be they male or female, has limited skills when it comes to dealing with ties? Even if you went to a private school and wore a uniform every day of your adolescent life, you still probably only know how to tie one kind of knot. And as for everybody else, well, your dad probably showed you once and then left you to your own devices.
Alas, ties are part of being a grownup, and if you’re like many people, it’s better late than never when it comes to learning how to tie a tie properly — because it’s difficult to get through life without ever wearing one. Fortunately, tying knots is a relatively painless process once it’s learned. To save you from ruining an otherwise perfectly put-together ensemble, we guide you through four classic ways to knot a tie as well as the occasions for which each type of knot is appropriate. Who knows? By the time you’re finished reading this article you may even feel confident enough to wear a tie just for fashion’s sake.
Often erroneously referred to as the “double Windsor” due to the existence of the half Windsor knot, the Windsor is the most traditional knot, and probably the one you first learned to make. This type of knot is all-purpose, and is appropriate for business meetings, interviews and anywhere else you need to look respectable.
1- Place the tie around your neck with the skinny end hanging on one shoulder and the thicker end on the other shoulder. Of course, make sure the label of your tie is facing your shirt and not the outside world.
2- Adjust the length of the skinny end by making it longer or shorter, depending on the size of your neck. Generally, if you have a large neck, you’ll need the skinny end to initially hang longer on your shoulder than the thicker end on the opposite shoulder. If you have a small neck, the lengths of the thin and fat ends will be about equal around your neck prior to making your knot.
3- Cross the fat portion over the skinny end to make an X fairly close to your neck (around about the second button on your dress shirt).
4- Fold the larger end around the smaller end; loop the fat end through the neck and pull the two ends slightly apart so that the larger end is on one side of your body and the thinner end is on the other. Consider your work so far to be the first “knot.”
5- Take the bigger end of the tie and fold it behind your first “knot,” then loop the larger end toward you through the noose of the neck to form a second “knot,” and pull this one tight. At this point, you should be able to see the label on the larger end of your tie (in other words, it should not be facing your
6- To complete the final knot, fold the larger end around the two other “knots” you created previously (thus covering them both up) and loop it through the noose again
7- Lastly, stuff the larger end through the now single knot and tighten your tie carefully. Voila!
This knot is the one to go for when you want the conservative look of a Windsor minus the effort. As with the Windsor, choose a dress shirt and blazer with a stiff collar in order to emphasize the knot’s preppy nature.
1- Proceed from steps 1 to 4 as you would for the full Windsor.
2- Fold the thicker end over your handiwork so far and bring the large end of the tie through the noose, tucking it into the knot you made
3-Tighten your tie as necessary.
Learn this knot and use it when you need to look good in a hurry or when you want to be fashionable and wear a tie with casual clothes. Try combining this type of knot with a dress shirt that has a narrow collar opening and is made from a softer material. A dress shirt with a semi-stiff collar layered under a denim or leather jacket would also look great with this knot.
1- Follow steps 1 to 3 for the full Windsor.
2- Fold the larger end around the smaller end and pull the thicker end of the tie through the noose and through the knot that will have been created by this process.
Also known as the Shelby, this knot is highly symmetrical like the Windsor, but it’s looser to wear and not as time-consuming to create. Since the Pratt is neither as large as the Windsor nor as narrow as the four-in-hand knot, it pairs well with most dress shirts and looks suitable on any occasion.
1- Place the tie around your neck with the seam (the end with the tag) facing outward on both the slimmer and thicker ends. Note that the fatter end should be hanging lower than the shorter end on your chest.
2– Cross the two ends over to form an X and flip the larger end through the noose to form a knot around the smaller end.
3- Pull both ends apart quite tightly to ensure your knot is snug and bring the larger end of the tie over the smaller end to cover your first knot.
4- Loop the larger end through the noose and through the second knot you created, adjusting accordingly.
The full and half Windsor, the four-in-hand and the Pratt are the most commonly encountered tie knots. Now that you know the basics, all it will take for you to master these knots is a little practice. So get ready to get tied up and be “knotty.”