How To Tie A Tie: Four Popular Styles

How To Tie A Tie: Four Popular Styles

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

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.


  • You’ll find that “Spread Collar” shirts are for more than just formal occasions now. They are all over the corporate scene in London and its fast becoming the same way in Sydney. Only old blokes and dorks wear the traditional style shirts.

  • Please… can we get some accurate reporting here.

    Firstly you state that the half-Windsor is a “symmetrical” knot, it is far from it, the fact that you only loop around half of the Tie means that the knot is fatter on one side.

    Under the Windsor knot you state “it looks just like the half-Windsor”, this links back to the above statement, the Windsor is a true symmetrical knot, the loop around both sides of the tie brings a balance and even thickness to the knot. Anyone that is familiar with tie knots can spot the difference a mile away.

  • Correction: the four-in-hand knot _always_ looks bad.

    I use a variation on the half Windsor where I don’t go back to the first side after the initial cross: I do the first wrap-around from the second side (which is the left side, or the guy’s right side, in the half Windsor video); I then go across behind the knot and wrap around the first side; then across in front, and finally up behind and down through the knot.

    My variation results in a knot which is slightly bulkier, but still perfectly symmetrical.

    Thin, asymmetrical knots are for punk, “ironic” rockers and/or kids who can’t tie ties. =P


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