A Course in Advanced Tie Knots
Here is all you need to know about “advanced” tie knots: they are useless and you shouldn’t wear them.
Above is the absurdly dumb “Eldredge Knot,” but it’s far from the only offender. Rarely does a week go by where I don’t end up with an email about Pratt knots or Winchester knots or Dubble Bubble knots or some other goofy stuff.
Here’s a summary of useful tie knots:
The Four in Hand
The old around-around-behind-over-through. The classic four in hand knot is simple, easy to tie, holds a dimple well, and is appropriate for any situation. It is slightly asymmetrical, which is desirable. It is more flattering to most men, more relaxed and more distinctive. Really the only time this knot isn’t suitable is with a very skinny, insubstantial tie.
The Double Four in Hand
This is the four in hand knot with an added wrap-around, as seen in this video by our friend GW. Useful if you are shorter and need to use up some extra length from an off-the-rack tie, or if you prefer a slightly fuller knot. I use it once in a while to give more structure to the knot of a knit tie.
The Half Windsor
If you’re one of those people who insists on symmetry, go ahead and use the half Windsor (or the Pratt, I guess). Just know that none of the Windsors ever wore the Windsor, half or otherwise. They wear the four in hand for the reasons outlined above. And look better because of it. (The full Windsor should be the exclusive province of Donald Trump and former NFL stars and other people whose goal is to look like a jerk.)
Everything Else
Is silly bullshit.

A Course in Advanced Tie Knots

Here is all you need to know about “advanced” tie knots: they are useless and you shouldn’t wear them.

Above is the absurdly dumb “Eldredge Knot,” but it’s far from the only offender. Rarely does a week go by where I don’t end up with an email about Pratt knots or Winchester knots or Dubble Bubble knots or some other goofy stuff.

Here’s a summary of useful tie knots:

The Four in Hand

The old around-around-behind-over-through. The classic four in hand knot is simple, easy to tie, holds a dimple well, and is appropriate for any situation. It is slightly asymmetrical, which is desirable. It is more flattering to most men, more relaxed and more distinctive. Really the only time this knot isn’t suitable is with a very skinny, insubstantial tie.

The Double Four in Hand

This is the four in hand knot with an added wrap-around, as seen in this video by our friend GW. Useful if you are shorter and need to use up some extra length from an off-the-rack tie, or if you prefer a slightly fuller knot. I use it once in a while to give more structure to the knot of a knit tie.

The Half Windsor

If you’re one of those people who insists on symmetry, go ahead and use the half Windsor (or the Pratt, I guess). Just know that none of the Windsors ever wore the Windsor, half or otherwise. They wear the four in hand for the reasons outlined above. And look better because of it. (The full Windsor should be the exclusive province of Donald Trump and former NFL stars and other people whose goal is to look like a jerk.)

Everything Else

Is silly bullshit.

The Necktie Series, Part VII: Tying it with Some Panache

Oscar Wilde once said something like “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life.” By now, you should know that the four-in-hand will work for most situations, and that the double four-in-hand can be used when you want a bit more bravado (or if you’re short and need to shorten the back blade a bit). I’ve also talked about how the Pratt should be used for spread collars or wider ties. With those three knots, you should be prepared for anything. 

Next, I thought I’d cover the two basic ways you can add some panache to how you tie your tie. The first is the Italian method - pulling it to the side a bit and leaving the blade out of the keeper. If you have an extra long tie, you might even want to leave the back blade a big longer than the front. The other method is arching your tie, a technique I always use now. It used to be a knee-jerk reaction to seeing guys leaving their ties loosely tied, a look so juvenile and awful that I cringe even just thinking about it. Nowadays, however, I just like the panache it gives. In this technique, the tie lifts off from the shirt. The photograph I’ve chosen exaggerates it a bit; in practice, the tie ends up looking a bit more like this or this. As Hardy Amies once put it, these kind of ties “come into a room almost before the man.” 

Check these two videos to see how to do each. The first is an interview with Sid Mashburn by GQ, who probably pulls it a bit more to the side than I would recommend (though he still looks great). The second is by Will, from A Suitable Wardobe, and he’ll show you how to achieve that tie arch. 



The Necktie Series, Part VI: Is the Four-in-Hand Really the Only Knot You Need to Know?

You know what the menswear blogosphere needs more of? Disagreement and debate. So long as we keep it friendly and respectful, I’m sure we would all benefit from having a little more push back on what each of us think. So I thought I’d take a stand against some orthodoxy today - the idea that the four-in-hand is the only knot you need to know.

Well, more accurately, it’s said that the four-in-hand and the double four-in-hand are the only knots you need to know. However, they’re more or less the same thing. Both are asymmetrical and relatively small compared to other knots.

It’s not a terrible piece of advice, certainly. It works for almost every situation, and you’ll rarely go wrong with it. However, there is one situation where I think the four-in-hand shouldn’t be used: when you’re wearing a spread or cutaway collar shirt. For this, I think the aysmetry looks poor and the smallness of the knot out of proportion with the collar. For me, dressing well is often about proportions - the width of your tie, for example, should match the width of your lapel; the circumference of your leg opening should be in proportion to the size of your waist and feet; the length of your jacket should be in proportion to the length of your legs. Everything is about proportions and balance. 

Thus, for spread collar shirts, I think a bigger knot is called for. Now, the “bigger knot” most men know is the Half-Windsor. However, the Half-Windsor is a bit ostentatious. Better, I think, to opt for the Pratt. It’s symmetrical, so it looks better on spread collars; big enough to fill the gap between your collar points; and helps hide the tie band that would otherwise peak out. It’s also of a medium thickness, somewhere between the Half-Windsor and four-in-hand, so it does the job without being vulgar. 

I’ve Photoshopped some images for you to judge. One is of James Bond from the film, From Russia with Love (given to me by BespoKenN). The other is from a Ralph Lauren catalog, which showcases their cutaway collar model, called the Keaton. 

Try the Pratt when you’re at home today and see what you think. Note, however, that this knot should not be used with grenadines, as the knot will be too big. 

To learn how to tie the Pratt, you can read my earlier entry about this knot here

Charles emailed us this evidence that the four-in-hand isn’t the only pretty tie knot. He told us this particular half-windsor is “the most beautiful knot I’ve ever tied.” You could certainly do a lot worse.

Charles emailed us this evidence that the four-in-hand isn’t the only pretty tie knot. He told us this particular half-windsor is “the most beautiful knot I’ve ever tied.” You could certainly do a lot worse.

A super, super nice lady on the TV show I’ve been working on lately came up to me as I was waiting for a shot to start and went to adjust my tie.  She said, “I don’t know that much about bow ties, but I know they’re not supposed to be crooked, right?”
On the contrary.  If your bow tie isn’t crooked, you’re not tying it right.  The best tie knots - the best bow tie knots, particularly - are expressive.

A super, super nice lady on the TV show I’ve been working on lately came up to me as I was waiting for a shot to start and went to adjust my tie.  She said, “I don’t know that much about bow ties, but I know they’re not supposed to be crooked, right?”

On the contrary.  If your bow tie isn’t crooked, you’re not tying it right.  The best tie knots - the best bow tie knots, particularly - are expressive.

Some words of wisdom from A Suitable Wardrobe on the Victoria and Prince Albert tie knots, sometimes called the double four-in-hand.  A blessing, particularly for the shorter in stature among us.

Some words of wisdom from A Suitable Wardrobe on the Victoria and Prince Albert tie knots, sometimes called the double four-in-hand.  A blessing, particularly for the shorter in stature among us.

Why the Four-In-Hand?
Since we released episode three of Put This On last week, certain people have asked: “why is the four-in-hand the only tie knot you need to know?”  What about the (Pratt, Windsor, Half-Windsor, Knot Geek Knot, Meat-and-Two-Veg, &c.)?
Well, I’ll tell you why.
First, though: a caveat.  While no man needs to wear a bow-tie during the day, if you are planning on donning black tie, you will need to know how to tie a bow tie.  Or at least how to budget an hour of time to figure it out before you leave the house.
Back to long ties.
Most who have written have told me that the four-in-hand is too sloppy, lopsided, or small to be suitable.  This, of course, presumes that symmetry, neatness and large size are desirable in a necktie knot.  They are not.
Regarding size: if you’re wearing a good tie, the four-in-hand will be plenty large for any collar.  If you prefer, you can double it (once more around) for extra beefiness.  There’s no need for big fat Stuart Scott monstrosities under the chin; you’ll look like a buffoon.
Regarding neatness and symmetry: a necktie knot should never be neat.  A necktie knot should be expressive.  It should be human.  As Glenn O’Brien puts it, “Real elegance involves impeccable taste and a peccable sense of nonchalance.”  And everyone who’s anyone agrees with us.
So: play around with the Pratt or the Half-Windsor.  Come back to the four-in-hand.  The one that matters.

Why the Four-In-Hand?

Since we released episode three of Put This On last week, certain people have asked: “why is the four-in-hand the only tie knot you need to know?”  What about the (Pratt, Windsor, Half-Windsor, Knot Geek Knot, Meat-and-Two-Veg, &c.)?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

First, though: a caveat.  While no man needs to wear a bow-tie during the day, if you are planning on donning black tie, you will need to know how to tie a bow tie.  Or at least how to budget an hour of time to figure it out before you leave the house.

Back to long ties.

Most who have written have told me that the four-in-hand is too sloppy, lopsided, or small to be suitable.  This, of course, presumes that symmetry, neatness and large size are desirable in a necktie knot.  They are not.

Regarding size: if you’re wearing a good tie, the four-in-hand will be plenty large for any collar.  If you prefer, you can double it (once more around) for extra beefiness.  There’s no need for big fat Stuart Scott monstrosities under the chin; you’ll look like a buffoon.

Regarding neatness and symmetry: a necktie knot should never be neat.  A necktie knot should be expressive.  It should be human.  As Glenn O’Brien puts it, “Real elegance involves impeccable taste and a peccable sense of nonchalance.”  And everyone who’s anyone agrees with us.

So: play around with the Pratt or the Half-Windsor.  Come back to the four-in-hand.  The one that matters.