How To Tie a Necktie | Be A Man of Style

tie a tieHas knowing how to tie a necktie become a lost art? Is it no longer associated with being a manly skill? It’s a shame that the pride we used to once feel in having mastered this is no longer there.

When I was growing up we used to compete over who could tie a tie the fastest and correctly.  Initially I don’t think any of us ever got it right. Sometimes it would be down to our knees and other times it would barely make it past our chest. I’m telling you, it’s an art and takes practice to get it right.

In addition to knowing how to tie a neck tie you need to know when to use which knot. Some go with whatever they know and end up missing out on the other classic necktie knots. They are all very similar with only a few different twists and pulls. If you can learn one you can learn them all.

Then there’s knowing when to where a necktie. Even interviews, weddings and funerals are no longer a given like they used to be. On the West Coast a necktie might be a bit much for a First Date but not on the East Coast. The best advice I’ve heard is to do some research by asking the host, friends or Googling the company. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.

When to use which knot and How to tie a necktie

The Four In Hand

The Four in Hand knot is sometimes referred to as the ‘schoolboy knot’ or ‘simple knot’. With only five knotting steps it just might be the easiest knot to learn. When graduating from the clip-on-tie this could be the first one in the lesson of How To Tie a Necktie.

When to wear: The final product produces a small, narrow and more discreet tie head. It is slightly asymmetrical and can be worn with standard button down dress shirts. If your tie is a heavier, thick material this is the perfect knot. Best worn with wide collars.

Anyone can wear this knot but it looks better on men with shorter necks. Because of the knot’s narrow and elongated look, it extends the perceived length of the neck.

The Half Windsor

This knot just might be the most commonly used. It’s a simpler version of the Windsor knot and is only a couple steps more than the Four In Hand knot.

When to wear: The final product produces a skinny, wider than the Four In Hand knot, is symmetrical and a triangular tie knot. You can use it with any button down dress shirt for business and formal occasions. It produces a wider neck tie and is best for light to medium fabric. If you have a wider tie go with this one and it’s best worn with a standard collar.

The Windsor

Also known as the Full Windsor. It might sound like the most difficult of the 4 knots in How to Tie a Necktie but it isn’t.

When to wear: The final product produces a wide symmetrical triangular knot and is perfect for a dressy tie for special business meetings and formal occasions. Some say it gives off a look of Confidence. Good for spread collar shirts and it requires a longer necktie.

Anyone can use this knot but it looks particularly better on men with longer necks because the knot’s wide form shortens the perceived length of the neck.

The Pratt

Also known as the Shell or Shelby knot. The Shelby knot got it’s name and was popularized by anchorman Don Shelby in the 1970′s.

When to wear: It’s a wide knot but not as wide as the Windsor. It’s suited for any dress shirt and wider neckties made from heavier material. It’s perfect for shorter ties and men with longer torso’s.

For a Video Guide on How to Tie a Necktie click here

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  1. When I have to wear a tie I usually go with the Windsor…now I know the name behind it. 😉 I personally think it just looks better, but to each their own.

  2. I don’t have a long neck or a long torso, so I guess I will stick with the Four In Hand.

    My brother and sister were in the jazz band in high school and one thing I noticed is taht the girls seems to be a lot more knowledgeable about how to tie a tie and the boys. I guess is was from babysitting boys and having to tie their ties for them. Meanwhile the boys always had their babysitters and parents tying their ties and still didn’t have a clue.

    The part I struggle with the most is getting the length right. It’s not uncommon to have to try three or four times before getting it right.

    • I still struggle with the length and have to give it a couple tries. I think overall we, kids and adults, just wear ties less so the opportunities to practice are fewer.

  3. Completely right about how it depends on your build; you don’t want a four-in-hand if you’re a hefty guy. I like a half windsor, usually.

  4. I love this. Hubby doesn’t have to wear a tie to work, I’ve seen him in a tie only a handful of times since we’ve been together-11 years- I’m usually running to youtube about how to do it properly. I’m sending him this link!

    • Haha! Thanks for forwarding. I have to dress pretty business like for work but minus a tie. In my early 20’s for a year or so I had to wear one every day and I’m so glad i don’t now.

  5. Great chart John. I’ve never been able to tie a tie, maybe it’s time I learn how. Thanks for all the tips.

  6. I’m going to print this out and give it to the interns I hire. I’m amazed at how many of them do not know how to tie a tie. I guess you have to learn at some point.

  7. Nice post, one that all men, young or old should read! I use a half Windsor, almost exclusively. The funny thing is that I discovered it on my own. I was never happy with the four in hand (I like things to be symetrical) and a full Windsor felt like a cow bell hanging off my neck. While playing around with my tie knots one day (yes, there was a time where I had that kind of free time on my hands) I stumbled upon the half Windsor and have been using it ever since!

    • Ha! Good story, Jose! Awesome how you figured out the half Windsor unintentionally. Just think, had it not been done before you’d be the proud owner of it.

  8. I’m the wife and when we started to church hubby wanted to wear a tie. I learned years ago but could not remember. I now have this saved on my desk top just for quick reference. Thanks for taking the time. Hubby tall and thin I like the half Windsor and the Windsor. Tried the Shell knot but didn’t care for it nice to know though.

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