With so many types of tie knots, it's hard to know which ones to master. In this handy guide we'll teach you the best tie knots to suit every style, and exactly how to perfect them.
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Even though ties are basically a wardrobe essential for the modern man, it’s surprising how frequently even the most dapper of gentlemen are confused by simple tie knots. From the Windsor knot to the Four in Hand, there's a knot to suit every man, as well as different ways to personalise them.
With everyone from the Victorians to the 60s gent experimenting with and perfecting the humble tie, there are now various tie knot styles that can help finish off your outfit. With so many different types of tie knots to choose from you need a guide, so check out our one, and enlighten yourself on every tie knot you need to know and how to tie them.
The Four in Hand Knot
The four in hand knot became popular because of how easy it was to tie. It wasn’t overly constricting, so it was comfortable to wear for long periods of time, but it was stylish enough to be worn for any occasion. That’s why it's still one of the most popular tie knots to date.
The four in hand knot first popped up in 19th century England. It earned the name Four in Hand because of its popularity amongst carriage drivers – who carried four reigns in their hand. Since the loop of the knot doesn’t require a large amount of tie length, the Four in Hand knot is a great option for taller men who have difficulty finding a longer tie.
With this knot, taller men can opt for a regular length tie. Keep in mind, the ideal Four in Hand knot should fall just slightly above the centre of the belt buckle. The ideal collar type for a Four in Hand knot is a narrower spread collar. This knot also works well with button down collared dress shirts.
If your collar is a wide-spread collar (meaning it has an angle of 60 degrees or more), read on to find out why a double Windsor or half Windsor collar may work better. Style of tie should also be kept in mind when choosing your knot. A patterned tie, like a check, stripe, or plaid, works best with a Four in Hand knot. Thinner ties also work well with this knot because of how thin the knot is.
How to Tie a Four in Hand Knot
- Take the wide portion of the tie and pull it until it is eight inches to a foot below the narrow section of the tie. Have the wide section on the right and the narrow on the left.
- Bring the wide end of the tie and wrap once around the narrow end. The wide end will finish on the right side.
- Tuck the wide end of the tie into the back of the loop formed by step two. The wide end will now sit between the shirt collar and loop.
- While holding the knot with your left hand, bring the wide end of the tie through the loop.
- Dimple the knot by pressing gently. Hold the knot while you tighten the knot.
Any tie wearer should have this knot in the bag! It’s a great, adaptable knot – you can wear it anywhere from a business meeting, to a job interview, to a wedding. Because the Windsor knot requires two wrappings, additional tie length is needed.
Therefore, tall men and men with a larger neck size will need a longer length tie. The best option for a Windsor knot is to choose a tie that measures around 61 – 64 inches in length. Keep in mind, Windsor knots require lots of practice!
Avoid testing out your first Windsor knot ten minutes before heading to an event - prep for wearing a Windsor knot by practicing before hand and stocking up on wide spread collars!
How to Tie the Windsor Knot
- Start the knot with the wide end of the tie on the right side. Try to use a tie with lots of material, preferably around ten to twelve inches, as this knot uses a lot of material. If left-handed, you can try to replicate these instructions on the opposite side.
- Cross the wide end over the narrow end, then pull the wide end under the narrow end to form a loop around it. Pull firmly to tighten.
- Pass the wide end of the tie under the loop you just made. The right portion of the tie should now be showing the underside.
- Loop the wide end of the tie over the narrow end again on the right side. Pull tight! These loops you just created will not begin to look like a triangle.
- Flip the wide end of the tie over the loops starting at the left and bringing over to the right. This will now form the front part of the triangle.
- Start by bringing the wide end of the tie between the necktie and the collar line, than tuck this through the loop that you created in step five.
- Gently pull down with your fingers on the wide end of the tie to tighten the knot, while pulling up on the knot with your other hand.
Half Windsor Knot
Even though the half Windsor knot is a prestigious knot with much history, it’s not a common choice for the modern man. Don’t be lead astray by this, it’s a great choice for your every day suiting. Even though it’s an underrated tie knot, it’s adaptable for any situation. The half Windsor knot is a smaller version of the traditional Windsor knot, and more triangular than the Four in Hand.
Similar to the Four in Hand knot, the half Windsor knot is also a great option for taller men who usually require a longer tie length. The half Windsor knot doesn’t require as much length as the traditional Windsor knot to loop around, so a regular length tie will hang at a normal length.
A half Windsor knot works best with a medium-width spread collar. It’s also a great knot to accentuate a designer tie – think Italian silk. Wear your half Windsor knot for formal situations or business casual situations.
How to Tie A Half Windsor Knot
- Begin the knot with the wide end of the tie on the right side. Make sure it hangs about six to eight inches below the thinner end of the tie.
- Take the large end of the tie and cross it over the small end. Bring the wide end around to form a half loop behind the wide end.
- Take the wide end of the tie and bring it up above the collar line. Continue to slip it through the centre of the neckline. By now, the tie should end up on the left side, hanging upside down.
- Now, with the wide end of the tie on the left side, pull across the half triangle that was formed. It should now create a small triangle.
- Bring the wide end of the tie around and bring it through the centre of the triangle formed in step four.
- Use one hand to pinch and pull gentle on the wide end of the tie to tighten the knot.
The Trinity Knot
Not for everyday wear, the Trinity Knot is a serious way to stand out. This trefoil-shaped knot was initially based around traditional Celtic knot work, the Trinity Knot looks more like an elaborate celtic knot than a tie knot. The Trinity knot, or Triquetera knot, is representative of both Pagan and Christian mythological symbols.
When tied correctly, it looks like an elaborate triangle that is symmetrical on all sides and meets perfectly in the middle. It’s a flamboyant knot, but guaranteed to make you stand out in a crowd. Because of how loud it is, avoid wearing this knot in traditional business situations. Plain coloured ties will work best with this knot, as a loud pattern will detract from the elaborate looping.
Same goes for the width of the tie – because of how bulky the knot is, a thinner tie works best. Ties with an un-tapered, narrow end will work best, but the more you practice this knot, the more versatile it will be. Keep in mind though, if you choose a tie with a sharper diagonal taper, you will lost the symmetry that the knot is known for.
How to Tie a Trinity Knot
- Hang the tie over your neck, with the wide end on the left side and the narrow end on the right.
- Cross the narrow end over the wide, then loop it up and over.
- Cross this to the left, then the right, before looping over the top.
- Pull it to the left, then wrap it around the base of the knot before looping it under and over.
- Feed it through the gap created before pulling it behind the tie to the right.
- Pull it up through the top gap and tighten the knot.
How to Tell What Knot is Best for You
The Windsor knot works well with anyone! Because of the universality of the knot, it’s a great addition to any tie wearers’ repertoire.
A Four in Hand tie knot will work best proportionally on a man with a smaller head size. Because of the smallness of the knot, if you have a larger sized head or a wider face, the knot may not flatter your proportions nicely.
A half Windsor knot is a great option for those with a shorter face, as the longer triangular knot will add some height to your proportions. The symmetry of the half Windsor is complimentary to any face shape!
Have you mastered the tie knot? Congratulations! The cherry on top of this accomplishment will be perfecting the neck tie ‘dimple’. The dimple is a finishing touch to any tie knot, where you purposely create a small crease on the top portion of the knot. It’s an art to create the perfect necktie knot; it adds a texture to the tie and allows for your tie, regardless of the knot, to drape perfectly down your shirt.
If you’re attempting a dimple, carefully fold a crease at the centre of the tie in the last step of each of the above directions. Make sure the crease goes all the way to the back of the knot, then tighten the knot with one hand while holding the crease in place with the other. It’s tough to master at first, but with practice you’ll be creasing your tie like a pro in no time!
History of Tie Knots
There is no real way to trace exactly where neckties began. Throughout history, there are many instances of neckties. One of the first neck ties that history can trace as of now, is actually neck scarves, worn in Ancient China on the famous Terracotta Warriors. Neckties popped up in Ancient Rome as well, worn around soldier's necks as an identifier when going into battle.
Even though neck pieces have popped up throughout world history, they really started to gain traction during the industrial revolution. Because of the onset of urban jobs, workers were ditching their farm clothes in favour of more presentable attire.
Dress jackets, trousers, and dress shirts all started appearing, with neck ties close behind as an easy-to-wear way to accessorise an outfit. Ties were a great way to add instant class to a daily wardrobe. As soon as ties started becoming popular, so did the tie knot. Your choice of tie knot became representative of whom you were and where you were going.
On That Note...
With this handy guide on how to tie your tie and a little practice, you'll be able to get your tie looking fresh whether you're on the way to the office, a date, or just grocery shopping. Ties don't have to be for special occasions anymore! Expand your repertoire with this guide, some fresh new ties, and maybe a tie clip or two and you're ready to hit the streets!