How To Tie A Tie: Best Guide With Easy-To-Follow Instructions For Tying Knots

How To Tie A Tie: Best Guide With Easy-To-Follow Instructions For Tying Knots2018-04-04T04:09:26+00:00

striped tie against check shirtThis page deals with six different ways to tie a necktie. There are step-by-step graphics in addition to written instructions for the following knots:

We will also address tie dimples and how to decide the best knots for your body type and face shape.

If you’d like more general information no neckties, see our guide to ties.

6 Ways To Tie A Tie With Step-By-Step Directions

According to Cambridge University researchers Thomas Fink and Yong Mao, there are 85 Ways To Tie A Tie. Learning all of them is perhaps a fun project for a retired man, but for the rest of us, knowing just a few is more than sufficient.

It’s good to know a few different tie knots. They can be changed depending on collar spread, tie space, and even your mood.

Without further ado, here are a couple of common and uncommon knots or varying levels of complexity.

How To Tie A 4-In-Hand Knot

  • Complexity: Simple
  • Ideal shirt collars: Point, spread, club, tab, pinned

how-to-tie-a-4-in-hand-knot

  1. Starting with the wide blade about 6″ longer than the narrow one, wrap the wide blade over the narrow one.
  2. Loop the wide blade behind the narrow blade and then back in front of it
  3. Pull the wide blade up behind the forming knot
  4. Pull the wide blade down through the know
  5. Adjust

The four-in-hand knot is arguably the most widely used necktie knot in existence. It’s easy to execute and creates a conal, asymmetrical knot that, when expertly done, is quite rakish. It’s commonly said that four-in-hand knots are small, but this isn’t necessarily always the case.

How To Tie A Full Windsor Knot

  • Complexity: Complex
  • Ideal collars: Spread & cutaway

how-to-tie-a-full-windsor-knot

  1. Starting with the wide blade about 10″ longer than the narrow one, wrap the wide blade over the narrow and pull it up behind where they intersect.
  2. Pull the wide blade down in front of the whole thing
  3. Pass the wide blade behind the narrow
  4. Pull the wide blade down behind the intersection once again
  5. Pass the wide blade in front of the narrow
  6. Pull the wide blade up behind the intersection
  7. Pull the wide blade down into/behind the knot
  8. Adjust

Everyone and his uncle is familiar with the Windsor knot, at least in name. Drawing its name from its false attribution to the Duke of Windsor (who had a fondness for them nonetheless), this is a large, triangular knot that is created with extra loops while tying.

Those who love Windsor knots appreciate their fullness and exacting shape. Windsor knot detractors (such as James Bond, who was reported to not trust men who wore them) find them to be overly studied and too perfect, even anal retentive. Glenn O’Brien is quoted as saying, “The Windsor is not, typically, what one would call devil-may-care.”

How To Tie A Half Windsor Knot

  • Complexity: Somewhat complex
  • Ideal shirt collars: Spread

how-to-tie-a-half-windsor-knot

  1. Starting with the wide blade about 8″ longer than the narrow one, pass the wide blade over the narrow one.
  2. Loop the wide blade behind the narrow one and pull it upwards
  3. Pull the wide blade down behind the still-forming knot, then pull it across in front of the narrow blade
  4. Pull the wide blade behind the still-forming knot again
  5. Pull the wide up to create the knot below
  6. Pull wide blade through the slipknot
  7. Adjust

The half Windsor is a Windsor knot with the second loop removed from the tying process. It isn’t as thick as a Windsor but maintains its triangular shape. This is a good knot for men who are of small stature and need their ties’ length to be used up but don’t want a massive knot underneath their faces.

How To Tie A Pratt Knot

  • Complexity: Simple
  • Ideal shirt collars: Spread

how-to-tie-a-pratt knot

  1. Starting with the tie reverse-side out and with wide blade hanging 6″ lower than the narrow blade, pass the wide blade underneath the narrow blade
  2. Pull narrow blade up and loop behind intersection
  3. Pull the wide blade down and loop in front of narrow blade
  4. Pull wide blade up behind intersection (note the knot starting to form)
  5. Pull wide blade down through slipknot
  6. Adjust

Created by Jerry Pratt, a former employee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his eponymous knot starts with the tie reverse-side out, as you can see in Step 1 from the graphic above. It’s easy to tie and makes a symmetrical knot. It uses relatively little of the tie’s length and is thus suited to tall men or short ties. It’s also known as the Shelby or Pratt-Shelby knot.

How To Tie A Kelvin Knot

  • Complexity: Simple
  • Ideal collars: Point, spread, club, tab, pinned

how-to-tie-a-kelvin-knot

  1. Start with tie reverse side out and with wide blade about 6″ lower than narrow blade
  2. Pass wide blade underneath narrow blade
  3. Loop wide blade in front of narrow blade
  4. Loop wide blade in front of narrow blade again, then pull up behind loop
  5. Pull wide up as far as it can go. The knot will begin to form.
  6. Pull wide blade down behind slipknot
  7. Adjust

You could borrow a phrase from Glenn O’Brien and call this one the four-by-four-in-hand knot. Similar to the Pratt in that it starts reverse-side out, it loops around the knot twice as opposed to once, like a four-in-hand would. An excellent choice for shorter men who prefer a somewhat smaller knot but need to take up some length with their ties.

How To Tie An Oriental Knot

  • Complexity: Simple
  • Ideal collars: Point, spread, club, tab, pinned

how-to-tie-an-oriental knot

  1. Start with tie reverse side out and with wide blade about 6″ lower than narrow blade
  2. Pass wide blade underneath narrow blade
  3. Loop wide blade in front of narrow blade and bring it upwards behind the intersection
  4. Pull wide blade up as far as possible
  5. Pull wide blade down through slipknot
  6. Adjust

The Oriental knot is the easiest to tie in terms of steps. One loop creates the knot and one pull-through completes it. This makes a very small knot and is great for tall men, men with long torsos, or very small-framed men whose faces are easily overwhelmed by large tie knots.

The Tie Dimple & Why It’s Important

Tie with no dimpleYou may have heard of something called a “tie dimple.” This is a fold in the fabric just beneath the knot, and necktie enthusiasts tend to feel that the presence of a dimple separates the men from the boys, as it were.

A good dimple helps to hold the tie in place while giving it some added visual interest. A tie without a dimple can look like a limp fish hanging around your neck, while a tie with a dimple comes to life and is indicative of a man who’s in charge of his clothes.

You can manufacture a dimple by simply pressing one into the tie with your fingers after it’s been knotted. Ties (silk ones especially) have “memory,” though, so over time a dimple will occur naturally.

tie with dimpleAt left, we see a tie with no dimple: lifeless and sloppy. Below, we see a tie with a dimple, full of life and natty as all get-out.

Tie Knots, Face Shapes, and Body Types

While it’s important that your tie knot sync with your collar, they must sync with you physically before anything else.

Body Types

Generally speaking, small men should tie small knots like 4-in-hands and Orientals, and large men should tie large knots such as Windsors. These proportions sync well, and doing the opposite will make small guys look puny while making large men appear humongous.

Face Shapes

The concept as far as the relationship between tie knots and face shapes mirrors that which we see with glasses and face shapes: you want to emphasize the shape’s strengths while not drawing any attention to its deficiencies. If you don’t know your face shape, you can identify it in five minutes by using our face shape guide.

Men with Square or Round faces tend to do well with conical knots such as the four-in-hand and Pratt knots. The shape of these knots add length to these faces, which lack them.

Conversely, men with Oblong, Diamond, Heart, and Triangle shaped faces do better with more symmetrical, horizontally-oriented knots such as the Windsor and half Windsor.

Oval-faced men, lucky as they are, can pretty much get away with any tie knot they wish.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to find the best balance between your body type and face shape when deciding the knots that look best on you. The best way to do this is through experimentation.

Conclusion

It’s not totally necessary to learn a bunch of different ways to tie a tie. In fact, most men end up learning one knot and simply using that one for every last application that they’ll ever have for it. This is fine.

Us, though, we prefer to have a few options at our disposal. We find it’s best to know one triangular knot, one conical knot, and one small knot, all of which are covered above.

To read more about ties, check out our neckwear homepage.

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