When it comes to men’s style, simplicity is the name of the game. Broadly speaking, we’re just not interested in spending hours primping before work or any other occasion – the easier, the better. This goes doubly so for wearing a suit, which for lots of guys is a hassle in itself. But what many men fail to realize is that elevating a formal look from “good” to “wow!” is as easy as choosing the right knot for their necktie. The compliments alone will be worth it!
Choosing the right necktie knot starts with understanding the variables involved. These include the size of one’s neck and face, the style of shirt collar, and the thickness of the tie itself. There is also the occasion to consider: formal occasions call for large, stately symmetrical knots, whereas smaller and asymmetrical knots work well in less-formal settings.
If you’re not familiar with the different types of necktie knots, then you probably tie a “four-in-one-hand” knot. This slim, asymmetrical knot has been passed down for generations from father to son without regard for any of the factors mentioned above. It is ideal for narrower or buttoned collars, thin ties, and thin to medium-sized faces and necks, but appears comically small on larger men, wider collars, and with thicker ties.
For most men, an easy upgrade is the “Half-Windsor” knot. This symmetrical, triangular knot will work with a basic dress shirt, most faces and necks, and an average-sized tie. The Half-Windsor projects a more classic, established look than the four-in-one-hand knot, which can appear boyish.
So-called “spread-collar” shirts require an even-broader knot, and therefore a wider tie. In this situation, a good go-to is the Windsor (or Full Windsor), a large, symmetrical triangular knot. This combination of shirt and tie will appear oversized on thin men and boys, but will flatter broader-framed or heavier men. The look projects masculine confidence that’s ideal for an interview or the boardroom, but decidedly out-of-of place in an informal setting.
For most men, having two of the aforementioned three knots in the rotation should prove plenty. There is no shortage of tutorials for tying these basic knots on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. However, if you’d like to go deeper down the rabbit hole, you could purchase Thomas Fink and Yong Mao’s classic 85 Ways to Tie a Tie and learn how and when to tie a Grantchester, Pratt (or Nicky), Small, St. Andrews, Oriental, Kelvin, Plattsburgh, Cavendish, or dozens of other knots.