The Best Ways to Tie a Necktie
Until recently I only knew one way to tie a necktie (the half-Windsor), because that's the only way my dad knows and that's what he taught me. I've never been very good at tying it but never though much about it, until I saw a friend who had tied his tie very nicely for his dissertation defense (it was a nicely-done Windsor).
So I figured I'd check out how to do it. It turns out some physicists figured out mathematically that there are exactly 85 ways to tie a tie, 13 of them aesthetically pleasing.
I tried all 13. It's worth learning the notation in the link if you want to try any of these knots. Just look at how they notate a knot that you already know and it will make sense immediately. If you don't know the name, you probably know the half-Windsor. There are also good pictorial instructions for all 13 knots at totieatie.com.
The four standard knots are the Four-in-hand, the Pratt, the half-Windsor, and the Windsor, and out of those the only one I like is the Windsor. I discovered there is a knot that looks very much like the half-Windsor that is much easier to get right: the St. Andrew. In my opinion, the St. Andrew is a much better choice than any of the four traditional knots if you only learn one knot. It's incredibly hard to make it look bad no matter how poorly or quickly you tie it.
My favorite symmetric knots (small to large):
- the Nicky for a simple small knot
- St. Andrew for a fuller knot like a half-Windsor
- Windsor for a big triangle knot
- Hanover for a really big triangle knot
My favorite "weird" knots (small to large):
- Victoria (small tube)
- Cavendish (asymmetrical knot)
After you have some practice and think you know what you're doing, go talk to a man at a good men's clothing store who takes his job seriously. You'll probably find out, like I did, that you don't know that much after all. He can show you how to really do it right, what to look for in a very good tie, and tricks that can't be easily described in print. It's going to cost you at least $40 for a good tie. If he says something along the lines of "a tie's a tie," or isn't an expert at tying his own tie, go somewhere else.
My annotated version of all 13 ties from the Wikipedia list:
|Small knot||Lo Ri Co T||Very small. Not self-releasing.|
|Four-in-hand||Li Ro Li Co T||Simple, small, asymmetrical knot.|
|Kelvin||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||I couldn't get this one to look good. Try the Victoria instead for this effect.|
|Nicky (self-releasing Pratt)||Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||This doesn't just seem better because it is self-releasing, but it gives an easier pull-down than the Pratt.|
|Pratt knot||Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||Nicky looks better and is easier.|
|Victoria||Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||This one looks like a small tight tube if tied right, very interesting look.|
|Half-Windsor knot||Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||Use St. Andrew instead.|
|St. Andrew||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||Very interesting! Looks like a half-Windsor, but is extremely easy to tie. If you only know one knot, I think this should be it.|
|Plattsburgh||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||I found this one difficult to pull down. Not self-releasing. Don't see too much redeeming about it.|
|Cavendish||Li Ro Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||Not sure if I'm tying it right, but it leads to an interesting, highly asymmetrical look.|
|Windsor knot||Li Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||Very nice. I found several instructions for this knot on the internet that were wrong.|
|Grantchester||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||Very thick, highly asymmetrical (a bit too much for me).|
|Hanover||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||Like a monster Windsor. I got a double dimple the first time I tried this one. Not self-releasing. I don't have any ties long enough to pull this one off.|