We’ll admit, ties can be a little tricky. They can be a nuisance, uncomfortable, and look odd – if not tied correctly. Very few men or women have managed to master the art of tying a tie well; most of us have worn one at some point in our lives – if not at some point during our careers, then possibly at school. But, did you ever put much thought into tying it properly or wearing the appropriate knot? It’s unlikely. You probably just learnt from someone older than you the quickest way to tie your tie in the morning and that was that. After you tied it once you probably never tied it again, taking to just loosening it enough to pull it over your head each day. Well, you have a lot to learn.

While perhaps tie ‘etiquette’ isn’t as important as the rules of style that come with the suit that you wear, it’s still worth knowing, if not to put to good use, then at least to help you answer the general knowledge round in a pub quiz. So, here’s our guide to ties

When to wear a Windsor knot

The ‘Windsor’ knot is undoubtedly the most traditional of knots and is worn most commonly for special occasions, i.e. to a wedding, or any other occasion where you might need to look particularly respectable. Many often attempt a Windsor knot, only to find that they end up with a standard four-in-hand knot (the one you were probably taught for school). The difference being, the Windsor knot is a wider triangle and looks best worn with a shirt collar that is considerably cut-away. Most other types of knot would look odd worn with such a collar.

How about a half-Windsor?

This knot can be worn for any occasion, but works best with a wider tie, as the triangle is slightly smaller. Again, this can be tricky to master, but once you have the hang of it, it’ll help you to look far more assertive and faultlessly smart, and will suit practically any shirt and collar. It’s more formal than the standard four-in-hand.

What’s a Prince Albert?!

Not what you think; the Prince Albert is a large knot, very compact, and a popular choice for short men who might find that their ties are often too long. The Prince Albert uses a lot of tie’s material to form the knot, therefore making it shorter. This knot is best tied with a tie consisting of thin and soft material, otherwise the material is likely to be too thick or stiff to form the knot. You can wear a Prince Albert for most occasions, but, in our opinion, it can be difficult to make it look smart.

Not forgetting, the four-in-hand

The four-in-hand is the ‘simple’ knot, and the most popular method used when tying ties. This knot is fairly small, and can often appear quite asymmetric. It can be worn for any occasion, but know that you can achieve a smarter look with a Windsor knot. The four-in-hand is probably the easiest knot to tie, which is why it is so common, and works best with a standard button-down shirt or spread collar.

The bow tie

The bow tie came about when the upper class of the 17th Century started getting creative with their brightly coloured scarves, tying them around their necks. A bow tie can be fiddly, and more often than not, people buy bow ties that are already knotted – a heinous crime if you’ve taken the time to purchase a tailored suit! They are, in theory, appropriate for all occasions, but are most commonly worn at high-end, extremely formal events. However, anyone can wear a bow tie and pull off a chic nerdy look or appear ultra-hip, you just need the confidence to pull it off.

Bet you didn’t know there was so much to a tie? Of course, the next step, after choosing the knot you’d like to try, is learning how to tie it, but you’ll find plenty of help and videos online. 

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