Style Q&A: What Knot to Wear?


When it comes to tie knots, does one size fit all or should I have a few in my repertoire?

Casey – Peoria, IL

answer-iconCasey – There are several variations on the classic knot but the most prominent ones are the Windsor, Half-Windsor, and the Four-in-Hand (save for the bow tie – that’s a whole different question). Among these knots, there are all kinds of different opinions and guides to help a man choose which is best. I tend to choose my knot based on the collar of the shirt that I’m wearing.

Hit the jump for the pros and cons on each of the knots listed above.

Most style guides are going to say that the Four-in-Hand is the most classic knot and should be the go-to for most men. Personally, I wear a Half-Windsor most days, as I typically wear a cut away collar on all my dress shirts. Typically, the wider the spread of the collar – the bigger the knot a man can get away with. Trend-wise, with the skinnier ties more in style right now and the fact that those are tied with a Four-in-Hand, the larger knots are become rarer.

The other factor involved in the decision of the knot would be the tie itself. Factors including the width of the tie, the fabric of the tie, or if the tie has a heavier lining (always the best for holding a dimple) will influence my decision of knot. Obviously, those wider ties, or those that are made of heavier silk, are going to have the bigger knots. Ties like those should be tied using a Four-in-Hand or Half-Windsor.

Here are some useful tips on each knot for you to remember:

  • Four-in-Hand: Most commonly used and thought of as the best all-around knot. Goes well with any collar chosen. If tied well, it will hold a dimple. But if not, it can look sloppy after a couple of hours.
  • Windsor: Very symmetrical-looking with a V-Shaped knot. Best for forming a perfect dimple and holding it all day long. It’s a little harder to tie as it has some extra steps. If attempted with a tie too bulky can make a knot way too big and clownish. Can also be harder on the necktie if not undone properly after the end of day.
  • Half-Windsor: A good mix between the Four-in-hand and the Windsor, providing some symmetry of the Windsor with some personal touch and a little smaller size of a Four-in-Hand. Can be worn will all collars and holds a dimple very well. A couple of extra steps can make it a little frustrating the first couple of times.

If you’re needing some help tying one of these knots, there are a plethora of websites replete with tutorials. Here is a link to one with pretty easy to follow steps for the three knots listed above, as well as a few others: Tie a Tie. Don’t say we never gave you anything.

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