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How To Tie A Tie: The Pursuit Of The Perfect Knot

Master the Art of Tie Tying

Tying a tie to perfect detail makes all the difference in the way a man looks. A simple touch such as a dimple in a tie can add both sophistication and depth to one man’s outfit, while another’s childish knot can add the look of a clip-on from the fifth grade.

Maybe you’ve never been taught how to tie a tie properly. Maybe you’re just out of practice. Maybe you wear one to work each day but want a fresh trick or two to upgrade your style. Where ever you are, I’m sure you can learn something today.

How many different knots do you know?

If you’re like most men, at some point in your life your father probably showed you one simple way to tie a necktie; he probably mumbled something under his breath, attempting to demonstrate, and told you to go figure it out on your own. From then on, you most likely never bothered to teach yourself another kind of knot other than the one that gets the job done quickly.

Well, it’ll do you good to learn some different knots, because one of the greatest ways to accessorize is with a tie.

Did you ever consider which knots go better with certain outfits? Or perhaps even, best for your body frame?

If you don’t know how to tie a tie at all, you will learn today! The day will come when you’re going to have to don a necktie, and heaven forbid the day your parents, friends, or girlfriend is unable to help you.

Instead of settling for a clip-on, here’s a challenge for you:

Master at least one of the knots taught below.

What is mastery? You should be able to get a perfect tie knot and length in relatively less than 30 seconds. With a little practice you’ll be laughing at how easy it is.

If you already know one way to tie a necktie, learning some different ways will give you more options. You might even find a new type of knot you really like and start using it regularly. Try them all and decide which ones suit you best.

The best way to learn is through demonstration, so below are some YouTube videos on how to tie different necktie knots.

Windsor

A lot of guys will mistakenly refer to this as the “double Windsor” due to the existence of the half Windsor. The proper term is The Windsor or Full Windsor.

The Windsor Knot is a thick, wide and triangular tie knot that projects confidence. It would therefore be your knot of choice for presentations, job interviews, courtroom appearances, and anywhere else you need to look respectable. This means you should definitely learn how to do this knot – it’s actually quite easy to do.

Because of it’s size, keep in mind that it is best suited for wide spread collar shirts. If you’re a bit stuck on choosing a shirt, check out our article on selecting a collared shirt the casual way.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T6xBfq77hg]

Half-Windsor

The half-Windsor offers the upscale look of a Windsor with less effort. Accordingly, there’s a good chance that you’ll come to rely on it pretty heavily. It’s not as wide as the Windsor, but its still wide enough that you should make sure it’s not pushing your collar up awkwardly.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSxNp4txj8c]

Pratt or “Shelby”

This knot is highly symmetrical, like the Windsor, but 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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ4Rb_mYKS0]

I couldn’t find a video with words so here are the instructions to go along with the video:

1. Place the tie around your neck with the seam (the end with the tag) facing outward on both the smaller and wide ends. Note that the wide end should be hanging lower than the smaller end on the chest.

2. Cross the two ends over to form an X and flip the wide end and through the loop to form a knot around the smaller end.

3. Pull both ends apart quite tightly to ensure your knot is snug, then bring the wide end of the tie over the thin end to cover your first knot.

4. Pull the wide end up and through the loop, then drop it down through the knot.

5. Tighten and dimple up.

Four-in-hand

Here is a great one to wear with casual clothes, learn this knot. Try this with a casual dress shirt with softer material, preferably with a smaller spread. This one will come in handy when you’re in a rush too.

It’s naturally going to be a little asymmetrical, so don’t be discouraged that it doesn’t look straight, that’s all part of the four-in-hand. The dimple is much harder to produce on this kind of knot, and sometimes will not form at all.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR4wfHw7Meo]

The four standard knots are the Four-in-hand, the Pratt, the half-Windsor, and the Windsor, and out of those I like the Windsor the best.

Try the St.Andrew knot if you want one that looks very much like the half-Windsor that is much easier to get right.

Some will say the St. Andrew is a much better choice than any of the four traditional knots if you only learn one knot. It’s difficult to make it look bad no matter how poorly or quickly you tie it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R_ZUWxYKeg&feature=related]

Instructions for Tying a St. Andrew Knot

The video has no words so here are instructions for those of you who can’t get it right with the video alone.

Great symmetric knots (small to large):

  • the Nicky for a simple small knot
  • St. Andrew for a fuller knot like a half-Windsor
  • Windsor for a big triangle knot
  • Hanover for a really big triangle knot

Great “weird” knots (small to large):

  • Victoria (small tube)
  • Cavendish (asymmetrical knot)

You can search for these on youtube if you really want to outdo yourself, but unless you like to wear neckties frequently and you’ve mastered the four standard knots, there is no need to confuse yourself.

Choosing a Tie

After you have some practice and think you know what you’re doing, go talk to a man at a good men’s clothing store who takes his job seriously. He can show you how to really do it right, what to look for in a very good tie, and tricks that can’t be easily described in print. It’s going to cost you at least $40 for a good tie. If he says something along the lines of “a tie’s a tie,” or isn’t an expert at tying his own tie, go somewhere else.

When choosing a tie, your main concern should be on three things: the quality, the material and the color of the tie. Silk ties (made of 100% silk) are always best to have. Make sure that you pick one that is just the right thickness and length.

If you are tall, go for a longer tie.

The rule for tie length is that when tied in a properly fitted Windsor knot (or any other knot for that matter), the triangular point at the wide end of the tie should be able to meet your belt buckle. Make sure you bring a dress shirt to the store, and try it on before you buy.

When you finally pick out the tie you like, never forget to double check that it is not damaged, smudged, or crinkled in any way.

Tips:

When choosing a knotting style, consider the thickness of the tie. Some ties are too thick to make anything other than a four-in-hand look decent. Some are so thin that the extra bulk added by one of the Windsor knots is needed to make the knot noticeable.

Are you aware that your face and skin also should affect your tie selection?

If you have a strong, angular face you look better in striped ties. Dotted and paisley printed ties go well with a round or baby face. Solid colors can be worn by everyone.

As you would match the shirt and suit to your skin before buying, so should you follow the same principles while selecting a tie.

If you have a slim build, check out some skinny ties, as they are in style right now.

Something else I really like are wool knit ties:

Definitely something you don’t see often, but if you can pull it off, it looks great. There are also cashmere knit ties – which are more expensive than silk ties – but have a few classic pieces in your wardrobe before you decide to splurge on one. If you want to read more about choosing clothing depending on your form and shape, check out our article on how to choose the best suit for your body type.

If you have read this article and mastered the four standard knots, congratulations, you are officially trained in the subtle art of tying ties.

Stay Sharp
Jae

 All you need to know is compiled in our Method…

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  • Jim C.

    Here’s the key to making the four-in-hand look good.

    Just before the final tightening (at about 1:24 in the video), after you’ve threaded the end of the tie through the knot, don’t just pull down.

    Instead, grasp the last strand of the tie just above the incomplete knot and pull up to tighten and form the knot. Only then, pull down for the final tightening.

    This makes it much easier to position the last horizontal outside pass nearer to the downward-pointing apex of the knot. With a little care, the dimple is easier to make and the overall knot will be almost perfectly symmetrical.

  • J. Pirro

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3IDkvsZ6I0

    The above video was all I needed to see. I can now do a Windsor knot perfectly. I also discovered the best ways to do half-Windsor and 4-in-hand from this, once I grasped the concept.

    The thing that seems to be the biggest issue, as they talk about here, is LENGTH. As per the video, I would say:

    1. Tuck in your shirt.
    2. Line up the end of the SHORT part of the tie with the second button visible from your waistline (if there is one directly at the waist, disregard it in your measurement).
    3. Begin to tie the tie.

    This always works for me. I never have my tie too short or too long. Watch the video; it’s HIGHLY instructive.

    Kudos to this article, however, for general pointers and for talking about styles!

  • GordonHinsdale

    Useful tips, for sure. My son in the Marines disdains the dimple that my executive dad urged. I dig dimples.
    Another tip, from years as an Acct Exec producing expensive Annual Reports: Never. Ever. Allow collar to show above your knot. For a photo especially. Even to those who Don’t Know, this bit of sloppiness sends a subliminally tacky message. Check that knot occasionally. Some silks are especially slippery.

  • Zero_Cool

    took me 2 hours to get a perfect tie but i’m proud of myself and with you guys ! thanks !

  • Bill

    I’ve got an abnormally large neck compared to the rest of my body… this coupled with the fact that I’m not at a point in my life to buy custom or otherwise expensive shirts, I’m forced to make due with standard sizes… I’m forced to choose between a comfortable collar and a shirt that fits me like a tent, or a shirt that fits correctly and a collar that’s far too small. Because of this I need a knot that appears VERY wide to fill in the collar spread that comes with not being physically able to button my top button. Is the Windsor my only option? I find it to not be quite wide enough as it is.

  • Dave

    If you add a bowtie to this page, then it is the perfect Knot tying page..

  • Joe

    helpful.. I had no idea there were more ways to do it..but going through all the different techniques just made me realize they all look nearly identicle.. although I found the shelby to be the easiest way to get a good knot, I was taught the half windsor and the knot always came out ugly. definately bookmarking this page for future reference.

  • http://a.trendyname.org Chris

    I prefer this video for learning about ties:

    The man shows it through drawing, then examples and covers all the knots + the bow tie. I personally like the Shelby knot because it just looks so neat but I’ve always wondered what kind of knot I should use since I have a rounder face.

  • http://www.therawness.com T.

    Sadly, I had a suit and tie job for years before I realized I couldn’t actually tie a tie correctly.

  • http://www.partieswithoutborders.com Valerie Dooley

    Thank you,
    I designed a tie dress a few years back (haute couture) and I always needed a man to assist with the tying of it (not to dismiss the fun in that however) but now, I can do it myself!
    I may still pretend that I don’t quite have it though – a little fondling around the earlobes goes a long way baby!
    Val Dooley

  • http://www.gmail.com Alexander Daniel Alanchery

    Please let me know any length procedure in a tie after tie

  • http://www.mynicetie.com Ben

    There is a video at this link that is really helpful for “first timers”: http://www.mynicetie.com/howto.html

    Check it out :)

  • Tierone

    who are you people? do you wear ties to work or is it a secret pastime, do your wives husbands know. Do you have a Tie-machine it took me ages to read this

    sincerely

    Tie-rone Tie-ler

    Tie-land

  • DC

    There is always so much information here in your blog, thank you!

  • Jen

    After 10 years of marriage, I still do it for my husband. Time to show him this video!

  • richard

    This is really great exposer, guess you had attain professorship in in the area. I must confess you’re doing a great job.Can you send me the word format of the different type of necktie knots. Tell me, taken all occasions into consideration- which of the knots best fit in almost all occasions. And which of them will you advice me to stay glue to in case a would want to master on only one.

  • Steve

    Length is always an issue for me (a novice tie tier) so the tip about measuring it on your arm first is good. It’s trial and error but once you have it you’ve got a measure for life – assuming your arms don’t grow.

    The second biggest hurdle for me is shaping the knot. All of these tutorial sites fall down when they get to the end – they just say “now tighten the knot”. But if you pull it wrong it screws the whole thing up. I’ve found it important to “visualise” the knot shape the entire way through the tying. You’ve gotta get that “bison horns” bit right by getting the to side corect before you make the final “front” knot. I’ve found it important to make sure both ends of the tie are pointing straight down throughout the process, rather than holding them out to the side, as it helps for the right shape.
    Also I wrap the final “front” knot quite tightly so it is pretty much almost already tight when I thread the fat end down. It means I have to thread it through the “eye of a needle”, so to speak, but if I simply rely on pulling tight a loose knot it always screws the shape for me… maybe I just need practice.
    For me this makes a nice fat triangular knot, rather than the boxy trapezoid I often see in Windsor knot tutorials.

  • http://wso2.org/wiki/display/~natefern Bill Bartmann

    Excellent site, keep up the good work

  • Ivan

    This helps. Im in freshman football and they want us to dress sharp every Thursday. I did’t know how to tie a tie intill this. now i can tie a half windsor in less then 25 secconds.

  • Arlon

    The right way to wear a tie is to copy the military uniform that requires a tie from any branch the length should not exceed the top of the belt and the gig line as we Marines say is the line of the shirt and flows to the left down connecting the left side of your belt to the left side of your zipper line on your pants

  • http://proteindiscounts.blogspot.com Wayne

    I’m always fascinated by videos like these because I can never get it right. I even printed out instructions etc. and it is still difficult.

  • Slav

    Great advice and great article

    Thanks!

  • http://www.gentlemanjoe.com/ Stavros Tosounidis

    Useful information for those up and coming gentlemen. The art of dressing well seems to be a dying art and the more we promote good fashion sense the better dressed this world will be.

    Thanks again.

    Stavros

  • Peter Wallis

    A good self-knotted tie makes yourself confident. Thanks for sharing the info!

  • Matt the Style

    My grandfather taught me to tie a full Windsor when I started private school years ago, and I’ve never really used any other knot. I can tie a Shelby but find them a bit too ‘shallow’ for my taste, and the half-Windsor literally seems to be a ‘cheap mans’ Windsor knot to me (doesn’t have the depth or breadth I like). The four-in-hand is by far the most common knot you’ll see daily, but even for an experienced tie-man like myself I find it hard to get a really nice aesthetically pleasing knot on a regular basis. It works of course with ‘skinny ties’ or the wool-based ties you see sometimes, but my advice is to generally avoid the four-in-hand if you’re a true gentleman.

  • Cartier Love

    wow

  • AussieRich

    Great site. I remember my Dad kind of showing me a half Windsor in my teens but it always looks lop-sided. Windsors are sharp but a little bulky on me as I am slim. Shelby looks best with a conventional tie and the 4- in hand with a slimmer tie. I don’t wear ties daily, but when I do I want to look sharp. I’m investing in pocket chiefs to complete the look.

  • http://www.safinah.site90.net Hanna Marden

    I truly appreciate this blog post.Much thanks again.

  • http://www.jamesmortonties.co.uk company ties

    Now this is really important for anyone who likes to wear a necktie. Knowledge about the right way to choose a neckties that suites you is also important…

  • Alan

    I was interested to find the “Pratt” knot which has been attributed to an American TV presenter. I have been tying my ties in this manner since 1961. Long before Mr Pratt.