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Necktie Knots: A Definitive Guide to Wearing the Proper Knot

Lloyd Hughes

Neck­tie knots can vary from the sim­ple to the com­plex.  It’s the one acces­so­ry that almost every man has and will wear on semi-for­mal to for­mal occa­sions.  The use of acces­sories to por­tray an embell­ished ensem­ble is a prac­tice that dates back to our long gone ances­tors. From trib­al tat­toos to the flam­boy­ant wigs and make­up worn by nobles, men have always (for bet­ter or worse), placed an empha­sis on their por­trayed image. Many trends have come and gone, aim­ing to set the mot­to for what acces­sories are tru­ly essen­tial to a man, but from a more clas­sic approach, only two with­stood the test of time: the watch and tie. With the lat­ter expe­ri­enc­ing an expo­nen­tial hype in recent years, we thought it would be appro­pri­ate to explore how ties pair with their shirt­ing coun­ter­parts, the col­lars.

Accord­ing to the for­mal­i­ty of your shirt, suit­abil­i­ty to the occa­sion and of course, your per­son­al inter­pre­ta­tion of style, chances are you’ll even­tu­al­ly face the “need” to tie up: be it for more for­mal or con­ser­v­a­tive envi­ron­ments or sim­ply as a styl­ish move to ele­vate your out­fit. So, when the time comes, will you know how to flaw­less­ly match your neck­tie knots to its com­ple­ment­ing shirt col­lar?

When faced with this deci­sion, 3 vari­ables come into the equa­tion: the neck­tie knot, type of col­lar and last but not least, your facial anato­my. Due to the nev­er-end­ing myr­i­ad of col­lar styles and neck­tie knots avail­able, we’ll address sole­ly the core essen­tial neck­tie knots every man should know by heart.

The Fail Proof Four-in-Hand

Easy to do and ver­sa­tile enough to pair with an oxford but­ton-down and jeans or a suit, this is the go-to neck tie knot for most men, espe­cial­ly those who have no par­tic­u­lar inter­est in learn­ing more than one. The rea­son being not only its quick learn­ing curve, but also the all-round nature that makes the four-in-hand a great match for most col­lar styles.

Pair it with longer col­lars with an inter­me­di­ate gap such as the point col­lar, tab or but­ton-down. It is also the only knot suit­able for mini col­lars styles. The col­lar shape along with the knot will bal­ance your wider face due to their elon­gat­ed fea­tures.

four in hand knot

Bond sport­ing a four-in-hand knot paired with a point col­lar shirt.

This is a small knot with an elon­gat­ed tri­an­gu­lar shape that is suit­able for wider face types such as oval, square or round.

Round Faces 1

The Double Four-in-Hand

A vari­a­tion on lat­ter that includes an addi­tion­al step when tying, the dou­ble four-in-hand works best with wider col­lars such as the spread, cut­away or club. The com­bi­na­tion of knot and col­lar will give the appear­ance of a wider face, bal­anc­ing your length­ened facial anato­my.

Neck Tie Knots: The Double Four-in-Hand

A dou­ble four-in-hand knot paired with a wide spread col­lar shirt.

As it pro­vides a bulki­er knot, the dou­ble four-in-hand is more appro­pri­ate for dia­mond, oblong or heart shaped faces.

Long Faces 1

The Regal Windsor

Named after the Duke of Wind­sor, this is a clas­sic and refined knot, best saved for more for­mal ensem­bles. Less com­mon than the four-in-hand or the Pratt, it is def­i­nite­ly a state­ment that shows you know your game.

The Wind­sor pairs beau­ti­ful­ly with wider col­lars such as the spread or cut­away, as well as with their “semi” ver­sions. Be sure to opt for a broad­er tie with con­sid­er­able length, which allows for all the fold­ing steps required for this knot.

Neck Tie Knots w/ Full Windsor Knot

A full-Wind­sor knot paired with a wide point col­lar shirt.

The Wind­sor is a clas­sic, wide knot, that best com­ple­ments elon­gat­ed face types, espe­cial­ly if you have a long neck.

Long Faces 1

The Half Windsor

A small­er ver­sion of the Wind­sor, the half-Windsor’s size doesn’t com­pro­mise its look or sophis­ti­ca­tion. Its inter­me­di­ate wide­ness should be matched with semi-spread, wide points or club col­lars.


Still con­sid­ered a some­what wide knot, it will work best with elon­gat­ed face types.

Long Faces 1

The Versatile Pratt

My per­son­al favorite, the Pratt knot pro­vides a great alter­na­tive for the dou­ble four-in-hand or half-Wind­sor. Easy to mas­ter and deliv­er­ing a sym­met­ri­cal knot that almost imme­di­ate­ly cre­ates a per­fect dim­ple, its size and shape make it appro­pri­ate for a wide range of col­lar types, such as spreads, medi­um-spreads, club, point, tab or but­ton-down.

Neck Tie Knots w/ Pratt knot

A Pratt knot paired with a spread col­lar shirt.

The Pratt’s sym­me­try and shape makes it a ver­sa­tile option for wider face types.

Round Faces 1

Final Considerations

The rec­om­men­da­tions shown here take into account the tri­ad of vari­ables one should con­sid­er when match­ing ties and shirts, with­out over­look­ing facial anato­my. It aims to be a quick guide relat­ing these three ele­ments, with a focus on the essen­tial types of neck­tie knots. Of course, you must not view them as set in stone rules; after all, it’s a bit harsh to say some­one with a wide face can­not pull-off a Wind­sor.

The goal here is to make sure you under­stand your face type and adjust your shirts to high­light its best fea­tures and com­ple­ment its down­sides. The choice of shirts (along with col­lar style), should con­sid­er the social envi­ron­ment require­ments you have to oblige. Sim­i­lar­ly, your tie knot should match not only your face type but also the occa­sion, por­tray­ing an appro­pri­ate look with dis­tinc­tive sophis­ti­ca­tion.

Remem­ber that acces­sories are one of the few oppor­tu­ni­ties men have to show­case their per­son­al­i­ty and indi­vid­u­al­i­ty, even in more tra­di­tion­al envi­ron­ments (just make sure not to go over­board). Final­ly, take a moment to exper­i­ment with the sug­gest­ed com­bi­na­tions and decide which bet­ter suit your style; in the process per­fect your neck­tie knots so they look crisp, clean and always fea­tur­ing a per­fect dim­ple. A last word to know­ing your ties and how they look with par­tic­u­lar neck­tie knots, since mate­ri­als and weight bear a strik­ing impact on the out­come.

Last­ly, for some great tuto­ri­als on how to best tie each of these knots, refer to these great resources:

Real Men Real Style — How to Tie a Tie

Tiepe­dia — Neck Tie Knots: A Visu­al Guide