As ZZ Top famously sang, “Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man” — but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just every girl who’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man: It’s also every boss, every client, every mother-in-law — you get the picture. Science concurs that dressing for success actually works.
In other words, if you don’t know how to tie a tie, you’re seriously hurting your hustle potential. Fortunately, this guide walks you step by step through the entire process.
Choosing the Right Knot
If you’re a tie rookie, you may be surprised to learn that there’s more than one way to tie a tie. What’s more, you should use different knot styles for different occasions. Your face shape, collar type, and tie material also factor into selecting the appropriate knot. Who knew ties were so complicated? There are three key knots you need to know: the Four-in-Hand, the Half-Windsor, and the Windsor.
The Four-in-Hand Knot
The Four-in-Hand knot is sometimes called the “schoolboy” knot because it’s the easiest of all the knots to master and is usually the go-to beginner knot style for someone who’s just learning how to tie a tie (yes, you). The Four-in-Hand is a relatively small, slightly asymmetrical, somewhat oblong knot. The most widely used knot in America, it’s also extremely versatile. The Four-in-Hand is appropriate for most casual and business situations. Choose this knot if your shirt has a pointed, narrow-spread, or button-down collar, or if your tie is made from heavy material.
The Half-Windsor Knot
The Half-Windsor creates a nearly symmetrical, triangular knot that’s a little shorter and wider than the Four-in-Hand knot, though it still falls on the medium-to-small end of the tie knot spectrum. Considered the Windsor knot’s “little brother,” the Half-Windsor works for casual and business settings but is also appropriate for dressier and even semi-formal occasions. Pair the Half-Windsor with a medium-spread, pointed, or button-down collar.
The Windsor Knot
The Windsor requires somewhat more advanced tie skills, so it’s not an ideal choice for beginners. The Windsor — sometimes called the Full Windsor, Double Windsor, or Eton knot — produces a symmetrical, triangular knot that’s the largest, widest, and most formal of the three classic knots. The Windsor is suitable for semi-formal and formal situations. Pair it with shirts with wide- or full-spread collars.
How To Tie a Tie Using a Four-in-Hand Knot
To tie a Four-in-Hand knot, start with the tie draped around your neck, seam side facing down, with the wide end hanging on your left, about 12 inches lower than the narrow end. Then:
- Cross the wider end over the narrow end. The seam side of both ends should still be facing down.
- Wrap the wide end under the narrow end, bringing it back to your left side. The seam side of the wide end is facing up.
- Fold the wide end across the top of the narrow end, back to your right side, so its seam is facing down again.
- With the tip of the wide end pointing toward your chin, wrap the wide end behind the part of the tie that’s around your neck (just to your right of the knot). The seam side of the tie is facing up.
- Fold the wide end forward so that the seam side is facing down. Tuck the tip of the wide end through the front loop of the knot.
- Holding the narrow end, gently slide the knot up to tighten.
How To Tie a Tie Using a Half-Windsor Knot
To tie a Half-Windsor knot, begin in the same starting position you used for the Four-in-Hand knot. Follow Steps 1 and 2 of the Four-in-Hand instructions. Then:
- Keeping the wide end on your left side, fold the wide end upward so that the tip points toward your face and the seam faces you. The wide end is still in front.
- Tuck the wide end behind the knot, ending with the wide end on your right, tip pointed down, seam facing up.
- Wrap the wide end across the front, so that the wide end is on your left, seam side down.
- With the tip pointed toward your face, bring the wide end up and under the part of the tie that’s around your neck, just to your left of the knot. The wide end is at the back, seam side up.
- Fold the wide end over so the tip points downward. Tuck the tip of the wide end, seam side down, through the front loop of the knot.
- Gently tighten.
How To Tie a Tie Using a Windsor Knot
To tie a Windsor knot, start in the same position as for the Four-in-Hand knot, then:
- Cross the wide end over the narrow end so the wide end is on your right, seam side down.
- Bring the wide end up and under the part of the tie around your neck. The tip of the wide end is pointed toward your face, seam up.
- Fold the wide end down over the front of the loop. The wide end is on your right again, seam down.
- Cross the wide end under the narrow end, so that the wide end is on your left, seam up.
- Fold the wide end up, across the front of the knot, so that its tip is pointed toward your face, seam facing you. The wide end is still on your left.
- Tuck the wide end under the part of the tie that’s around your neck, staying on your left side. The wide end is on your left, seam up.
- Fold the wide end over the narrow end so the wide end is on your right, seam down.
- Bring the wide end up behind the knot, staying on your right. The wide end is pointed toward your face, seam out.
- Fold the wide end over and tuck it through the front loop of the knot.
- Gently tighten.
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