Tying the knot…but which knot?
According to some, there are at least 18 common ways to knot a tie while others say up to 85 depending how you calculate the differences. This is based on a sequence of moves, usually at least five different possible moves. I won’t go into listing every one as we are more concerned about knots suitable for a wedding.
I can hear your brains saying 18…85! I only know of one and I’ve forgotten how to do it….or worse, none at all.
I can’t count the number of weddings where I have turned up to see the groomsmen confusingly holding a long piece of cloth aloft and say “what am I going to do with this?” or “Who knows how to do these?”. So there I am with 5-10 ties round my neck tying them off one by one, guessing the length based on the height of the groomsman in front of me.
Apart from being a bit too close to the chap I’ve just met, ha ha, I struggle tying them on people as its opposite in my brain, hence why I tie them on my own neck. I cannot even tie them on myself if I look into the mirror whilst I do it (unless it’s a bow tie, you have to on a bow tie….bow ties are evil lol).
Wider spread collars are suited better for men with angular faces, helping to accentuate a sense of broadness. Conversely, narrow pointed collars will best complement men with a rounder face, and this can help to emphasize perceived vertical lines and length.
For men with an oval face (like me), a medium spread collar works well, as their facial structure can be more flexible.
“85 knots and now I have to think of the collars too!”
Do not worry I am here to help and I will help by narrowing down to just 3 knots I think work best to help you decide.
Welcome to the Four in Hand, the Half Windsor and the Windsor Knot.
The Four in Hand Knot
- Named after a 19th Century Gentleman’s Club of the same name, the Four-in-Hand is the reigning champion of necktie knots. Its popularity stems from its simplicity and versatility and of course its the go-to knot warn by James Bond no less . It is easy to tie, slender, tapered, mildly asymmetrical and self-releasing. If you only learn one knot, make it the Four-in-Hand.
The Half Windsor Knot
- The Half Windsor knot is an extremely versatile knot. Unlike what the name suggests, the Half Windsor knot is actually closer to three-quarters the size of the Windsor knot. The Half Windsor is medium in size, nearly symmetrical and, when tied correctly, it produces a deep and substantial dimple. Best used with neckties of a medium to light thickness.
The Windsor Knot
- Although the Duke of Windsor never specifically used the Windsor knot, he did favor a wide triangular knot. In actuality, the Duke achieved his trendsetting look by tying a Four-in-Hand with specially made wide and extra thick ties. The Windsor knot was invented by the public as a way to imitate the Duke’s knot style. There are several derivatives of the Windsor that are all referred to by the same name. The Windsor delivers a symmetrical and solid triangular knot that works best with a spread collar. This knot is also mistakenly referred to as the “Double Windsor” knot.
A tie dimple is the small fold beneath the knot. Without them, a tie can look flat and ordinary. The dimple is not dramatic or overbearing, it offers a subtle twist of refinement to a necktie in my opinion. To easiest way to achieve the perfect dimple is to pinch the tie with your thumb and middle finger, then use your index finger to keep the dimple in place as you tighten.
The right knot for your collar:
Wide spread collars are best worn with a Half or Windsor Knot, pointed collar shirts are best paired with a Four in Hand Knot, while a medium spread collar offers more flexibility and can be worn with a Four in Hand, Half Windsor or Full Windsor Knot.
Also consider the right fabric for the knot:
Some fabrics are thicker like tweed. This may mean that you would be better using a half Windsor rather than Windsor if the knot is starting to look too wide. Again you would need to take into account the collar type.
How far to go down:
Formal would be down to the belt line but not over or past it when standing. Depending on the height of the wearer this can be a problem. If tall, like me, some ties may not be long enough to do this. However get as low to the belt line as possible to stick to this rule. If you are wearing a waist coat its less of a worry unless you are intending to take off the waistcoat during the day.
When wearing a waistcoat ideally no white/shirt should be showing above the belt and below the waistcoat itself. I know this rule cannot always be observed if you are purchasing or hiring suites, given that groomsmen come in all different shapes and sizes. If shirt is shown then be careful of tie length, having the tie hang from the bottom at best looks untidy, at worse looks like an arrow pointing to ones crotch.
Like most things it’s down to personal opinion/choice but I feel the Windsor works best. I air on the side of ‘I would rather look too smart than too informal to a function or wedding’. I do favor other knots but for ease and simplicity I have listed the above.
For help with tying this site Animatedknots.com maybe helpful or there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to show how to tie the knot.
If you were to ask which others I like it would be the following:
The Eldredge knot – with 15 moves to tie, its not the easiest to master.
Knots that are crazy to me but I’ll leave it to you to look them up:
- The Fishbone knot
- The Van Wijk
- The Truelove knot
- The Onassis knot
Again it’s down to personal preference and this list could go on and on.
“Photographers note to the bride and groom”
Whichever knot you choose for the groom, symmetry is key. If an asymmetrical knot is chosen this is fine, however it would look better in the photographs if all tie wearers have the same knot, in my opinion. I know this contradicts the initial considerations on face shape etc so, usually it is better to match the right collar & tie for the groom and work from there. The same goes for any other accents like pocket squares & tie pins/clips (I will have a different blog on pocket squares soon).
Hope this helps