How to Tie-a-Tie

Whether for business or social occasions, certain outfits look better with a tie. Located underneath the shirt collar and knotted at the throat, a straight tie brings a level of professionalism and elegance to a suit, vest, or shirt and pants. With so many tie knots to choose from, there's something for every neck size and shirt style. If you prefer an easy knot, we suggest starting with the half-Windsor. Practice tying knots in front of a mirror for the best results.

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 enough.

Indeed, 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
  • Best Collars: Point, spread, club, tab, pinned

 

 

  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
  • Best Collars: Spread & Cutaway

 

 

  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 are 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 not to 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
  • Best Collars: Spread

 

 

  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. Tug the wide blade 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
  • Best Collars: Spread

 

 

  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 the intersection
  3. Pull the wide blade down and loop in front of the narrow blade
  4. Tug 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
  • Best Collars: Point, spread, club, tab, pinned

 

 

  1. Start with tie reverse side out and with the wide blade about 6″ lower than the narrow blade
  2. Pass the wide blade underneath the narrow blade
  3. Loop the wide blade in front of the narrow blade
  4. Loop the wide blade in front of the 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. Like 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.

Tie Knots, Face Shapes, and Body Types

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

Body Types

Smaller men should tie small knots like the 4-in-hand and larger men should tie large knots such as Windsors. These proportions sync well and doing the opposite will make small guys look smaller while making large men appear even bigger.

Face Shapes

The relationship between tie knots and face shapes mirrors that of spectacles with face shapes. In short, you want to emphasize the shape’s strengths while not drawing any attention to its deficiencies. 

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 triangular 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.

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 application that they’ll ever have for it. This is fine.

At Navy or Grey 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.