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What Knot to Do? How to Tie a Tie and When to Tie a Tie


Knowing how to tie a necktie or how to tie a bowtie is all well and good, but unless you know when to apply your knottable knowledge, you're nearly as bad off as the poor fellow who doesn't even own a tie. Some tie knots look better under certain conditions than others. While our how to tie a tie diagrams are great if you know the name of a knot, we have prepared a ready reference for knowing when to knot and when not to knot. Before you know how to tie your tie, you need to know what you have. Decide on three things: what tie, what shirt, and what look you want.

If you have a run-of-the-mill discount rack dress shirt, chances are that it has a pretty standard opening at the collar. Especially if the collar does not button down, consider using the Half Windsor or Four-in-Hand knots. If the collar does button, you might be able to get away with a slightly larger knot, such as those used for shirts with a wider spread at the collar. These shirts usually get labeled as designer shirts-but if you're lucky enough to find one on the discount rack, it doesn't matter. The knots to use for wide spread shirt collars are the Windsor, Hanover, and St. Andrew knots. Even if the collar does not button down, you will look classy.

Tie material is just as important as collar construction. Knowing when to knot your tie in what way depends on the tie's length and the material's heft. Extra thick material needs knots such as the Oriental Knot or the St. Andrew Knot. Thinner tie material dictates a Half Windsor or Victoria Knot. Those two knots also work for short ties, but the Four-in-Hand or Pratt Knot should be kept in mind as viable short tie options as well. Extra long ties require bigger knots-Windsor, Half Windsor, Victoria, Balthus (or Double Windsor), or St. Andrew knots work well.

When it comes to fashion situations that don't fit the mold, there are a number of possible necktie knots. Older, worn-out ties like the treatment from the Plattsburgh knot. If your desire is to have a bit of an asymmetrical knot-tying your tie a bit askew can often give a flashy edge to your style-the Kelvin Knot, Nicky knot, and St. Andrew Knot all work well. More flamboyant knots can be the Windsor or Hanover knot, both of which tie into a large, triangular shape, or the St. Andrew Knot. The St. Andrew Knot is often seen as being a bit "funky," so take care with when you wear it. Standard conservative knots are the Four-in-Hand, Windsor, Plattsburgh, and Balthus knots (also "Double Windsor").

There are, of course, those readers who tie their ties one way and one way only. We know a young man who grew up attending religious services that required a tie. When he wore child-sized ties, he mastered one particular knot. As he grew, his ties did not, and he had to learn to tie a necktie in a different way. Using less fabric, he was able to make his smaller-sized ties last even as his shoe size left the child department and began creeping up the sizing chart in Men's. When he got his first adult-sized tie, he discovered that no matter how he adjusted the length of the two parts, his tie still dangled down around his knees. It was then that he had to relearn how to tie a tie. With that as his object, he landed on one knot that served him well. It still does-sometimes the smaller half of the tie comes out short and has to be tucked into his shirt, but as long as he is careful, nobody catches on.

Two things are important here. First: we know you're only going to learn a few knots. We'll recommend those in a moment. Second: be sure to learn a few, and not just one. Two knots for different thicknesses of tie material should be great. Now, that list: Windsor, Half Windsor, and Four-in-Hand are great knots to know. Four-in-Hand is for the more curious-for the quirky, learning the Cavendish or the Grantchester will set you apart. Now, with your knowledge of ties and knots, pick a few and knot away!

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