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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.