Tying a tie is one of those things that can seem almost impossible to learn at first, but feels easy after hardly any time at all. The great thing about ties, though, is that you can get away with nearly any style of knot, and there are plenty to choose from. Here we’ll take a look at the three most popular tie knots (plus a bonus for bow ties), starting with the four-in-hand knot.
The four-in-hand knot (above) is probably the easiest knot to master since it’s asymmetrical—which in the world of neckties means it’s already crooked, so it’s harder to make it look bad! Some people may also call this one a “simple” knot, and it’s good for most occasions that aren’t too dressy. “Skinny” and medium-width ties work very well with this knot.
The Half Windsor
The half-Windsor knot is one step up from the four-in-hand knot in that it’s good for just about any occasion or style of shirt. The knot itself is a bit wider, and it’s symmetrical—which means you’ve got a higher chance of getting it wrong, so it takes some practice to get right. Slightly wider ties work well with the half-Windsor, but they don’t have to be monstrous.
The Full Windsor
The Windsor, also known as the Full Windsor, is a fairly enormous knot compared to the previous two. Aside from its size, though, it looks just like the half-Windsor. It’s thought to be appropriate for more formal occasions, especially since it’s the necessary width for “spread collar” shirts, which are almost completely exclusive to very dressy events. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear the Windsor anytime you want, but there is a catch: It requires a tie that’s about a foot longer than normal, and quite thick, too.
The Bow Tie
As the Doctor puts it, bow ties are cool. They’re also a completely different breed of tie from the big-end-skinny-end variety, which means most of us never learned to tie one. As with the tying methods, mastering the bow tie will take a little practice, but you’ll have earned the respect of your peers with this one.
How Do I? is a series in which we teach you things that you should probably have already learned, but, for one reason or another, haven’t. Today is the day you finally learn. No judgement, no shame. We won’t tell anyone.