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How To Tie a Four In Hand Knot
How To Tie a Full Windsor Knot
How To Tie a Half Windsor Knot
How To Tie a Pratt Knot
How a Zipper Tie Works

How to Tie a Tie

Simple instructions for tying the most common knots, featuring videos and pictures

How to tie a tieFollow the links above to find instructions for tying the four most common necktie knots.

“Oh well that’s just great,” I hear you say, “I didn’t know there were four different ways to tie a tie! Life is confusing and complicated…”

Well, actually it has been proven mathematically by two Cambridge research fellows that there are eighty-five different ways to tie a tie, including the four in hand and half Windsor knot. The proof involves topology and models and random walks and these guys really must have had other things they should have been working on, don’t you think?

Anyway, they say that only thirteen of the eighty-five knots are “aesthetic”, and we’re pretty sure you can get away with knowing the four big ones.

“Super,” you say, “but how do I decide which one to use?!”

That's a great question. You can decide which knot to use by answering the following questions:

  • How big am I?
  • How tall am I?
  • How long is the tie I’m tying?
  • Is the thing I’m dressing for formal or casual?
  • Do I want to do the traditional thing, or be quirky?
  • What kind of a shirt collar am I wearing?

Bigness and Tallness and the Length of the Tie

If you are big or tall, and the tie you are tying is not extra long, then your choice has been made for you. You should use a four-in-hand, because it is the simplest knot. (You might also get away with a Pratt). More complicated knots use up too much of the tie, leaving it comically short, especially on tall people.

However, if you are a wide person, and you have a tie long enough that it won’t hike up and look like a bib if you tie a big knot in it, a larger knot would serve you well, because it’s better proportioned to your size. A small knot on a big guy looks a little goofy.

Similarly, if you are smaller than average size you might consider going with a simple knot because simpler knots are smaller. A big knot on a small frame looks a little goofy.

Formal, Casual, Traditional, or Quirky?

Simpler knots are generally considered more casual. If you want to look formal and traditional, consider rocking a full Windsor or Pratt knott. However, sometimes wearing a tie in a casual way to a formal event can be striking and quirky, especially if the event is artsy. Just ask Prince Charles who is famous in tie circles (yes, they exist) for using four-in-hands in unusual ways.

What Type of Shirt Collar Goes With This Knot?

“What? There is more than one kind of shirt collar, too?”

Yes. But everything’s going to be ok. Take a deep breath, crawl out from under your bed, get a nice glass of milk and take a look at our guide to matching knots with shirt collars.

How To Tie a Four In Hand Knot

step10smallThe Four in Hand Knot

Arguably the most popular knot on the planet, the four in hand is quick and easy. It's lack of perfect symmetry makes it the preferred choice of younger people who don't want to look quite so stuffy in their business or formal attire. Don't assume this is a slacker's knot. Even President Obama wears the four in hand knot on the campaign trail. Check out our helpful video and picture tutorial on tying a four in hand knot.
How To Tie a Full Windsor Knot

step13smallThe Full Windsor Knot

  The large, perfectly symmetrical full Windsor knot (also known as a double Windsor) is about as formal as it gets. This knot looks great with a spread or cutaway collar, and is perfect for classy parties, charity galas, or any other event where you really want to dress to impress. Check out our video and full instructions on how to tie a full Windsor.
How To Tie a Half Windsor Knot

step12smallThe Half Windsor Knot

The single, or half Windsor, may be thinner than its big brother, but it looks every bit as great. Give this knot a try when you're wearing a narrower shirt collar, and you'll have a look that simply can't be beat. Best of all, we have a great video and series of pictures demonstrating how to tie a half Windsor.

How To Tie a Pratt Knot

step9smallThe Pratt Knot

Neat, tidy, and elegant, the Pratt knot has been a favorite of public figures, ranging from prominent members of the government to newscasters. Unlike most methods, the first step in this method requires the tie to be in a backwards facing position. If you want a knot that is thinner than a half Windsor, but just as symmetrical, this is a great option. Learn to tie a Pratt knot with our helpful video and photo guide!

How a Zipper Tie Works

zippertieThe Zipper Tie

Learn the mystical workings of the zipper tie! When you need a consistent knot on a group of people such as dancers or servers, the zipper tie is your best bet. Fast wardrobe changes? Zip zip and done!


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