No matter how apparently simple, the tie is an accessory capable of balancing out the entire figure, from the shoulders to a man’s height. How to tie the perfect tie knot and choosing between a simple knot and a Windsor knot are fundamental elements in this game of proportions.
According to the hard-liners, a tie should never be worn with a button-down collar shirt. A tie knotted shorter than it should be, so above the belt, risks an awkward effect. Common sense dictates that the narrow end of the tie, the tail, should never show from behind the front of the tie. A tie must always be tightened: it can have a soft knot, but never completely loose. Lastly, a tie pin is a good idea for fixing your tie to your shirt, thus preventing it from moving.
The simple knot, also called the Four-in-Hand – probably from the exclusive London Four-in-Hand Club – is suitable for all types of shirts and ties, from slim to regular of approximately 8cm, whether in silk or thicker materials like wool and cotton. This knot is one of the few alternatives for thin ties, on which a fuller knot would look disproportionate. The simple knot is ideal for ties with bold prints, where more complex knots could appear excessive.
The way to tie a simple tie knot can be summarised as a horizontal wrap followed by a vertical loop, where the thicker end is knotted while the thinner end always stays still.
Preparation. Button up your shirt and lift up the collar. Place the tie around your neck with the seams facing inwards, towards the shirt, and pull the wider end bringing it under the belt, while positioning the slimmer end a hand’s width above.
Horizontal wrap. Pass the wide end from left to right, or vice versa if left-handed, over the narrow end in a cross. Hold where the two ends overlap with one hand, while doing a complete turn with the wider end.
Vertical loop. The wide end should then be passed upwards and outwards through the loop made by the tie around the neck to the front. It’s then threaded downwards through the small loop previously held in place, that can now be loosened to create the space needed.
Fastening. Before tightening the knot, you can press the tie with two fingers to create the classic dimple. Pulling down on the tie, the knot tightens and becomes a running knot: you can then slide the knot up to the top of the shirt. You can now fold down your collar and precisely centre the knot.
The Windsor knot, for reasons unbeknown to history, shares the name of the worldly Duke of Windsor, who ruled for less than a year as King Edward VIII on the Throne of England. Yet it was not the Duke of Windsor that invented this knot, or brought it to fame, but rather an Italian tailor from which the second name of this knot, the Scappino, comes.
The Windsor knot is suitable for regular or large ties, as it’s too bulky for a slim tie on which such a knot would seem out of proportion. The ideal shirt for the Windsor is a French style, since the collar is wide enough to cater for a larger, more elegant knot. It can easily be worn with a mismatched jacket and trousers but it’s traditionally recommended to be worn with a suit.
Preparation. As with every knot, the tie is placed around a raised, fully-buttoned collar. Being a complicated knot, more centimetres of the wider end are needed, so it should be much longer than the thinner end. Make an X by crossing the wide end over the thin.
First step. It’s always the wide end that moves, being threaded through the loop at the collar from the inside out. The wide end is then taken round behind the thinner end to make a full loop.
Second step. Again, thread the wide end through the loop at the collar, this time going from front to back. Two knots should now be visible: these are the basis of the Windsor knot.
The last loop is the most complex. Turn the wide end like a ribbon in front of the double knot, then thread it once again up through the loop at the collar and guide it through the horizontal ribbon you just made.
Fastening. Now, you can pull the wide end down, then slide the knot upwards, up to the collar of the shirt.