The Compass  /  Style  /  The Right Tie Knot For You

The Right Tie Knot For You

The Right Tie Knot For You

When was the last time you considered your tie knot? If you’re like most guys, you’re still doing the same tie knot you learned the first time you ever tied a tie. It’s time to give your tie knot a second look. Why? The proper tie knot keeps everything in proportion around your face. Proportion, the cornerstone of men’s style, is mostly a matter of tailoring, but when it comes to ties, the perfect tie knot balances out your face and lets you keep people’s focus and attention on you, not your tie. We’ll break down the pros and cons of the most common tie knots by face type so you can pick the tie knot that works for you.

Tie Knots for Medium-Sized Faces

Most guys fall somewhere in the middle between slim and full faces. Their faces don’t warrant a substantial tie knot like a full Windsor knot but they aren’t so slim that they need to limit themselves to the svelte four-in-hand tie knot either. That’s where a middle of the road tie knot comes into play. This can be achieved by modifying another tie knot. Some guys tweak the four-in-hand they grew up on to give it some girth (results may vary, though, depending on the tie fabric and cut). Other guys go with the tried and true half-Windsor tie knot. Think of the half-Windsor like an undefeated welterweight. It’s not as big as others of its kind. It may not be all over TV like it’s bigger tie knot brethren. But it steadily, relentlessly and thoroughly, kicks ass.

medium face tie knot

Tie Knots For Slim Faces

The most common tie knot, the tie knot most guys start with, is probably the least useful tie knot to know. The four-in-hand knot creates a smallish knot, like the one featured here, that is . While this is a standard tie knot, and looks great on guys with slim faces, smaller tie knots like this can get lost under a fuller face.

slim face tie knot

Tie Knots For Full Faces

What if you’ve got a little beef in the cheeks? Should you avoid ties altogether? Nonsense. You just need to learn to tie a thicker tie knot. A  bigger tie knot, like the Windsor knot shown here, will balance out a wider jaw and keep things in proportion.

full face tie knot

Tie Knots and Collar Types

We would be remiss if we didn’t put some context around the tie knots we’ve discussed here. After all, your tie knot doesn’t exist in a vacuum but on a collar. Traditionally men with round faces have been told to go with point collared dress shirts, while men with angular (read: thinner) faces have been encouraged to opt for spread collars. We stick by that advice (hell, we’ve even dispensed it). Some will protest that a spread collar requires a larger knot and, therefore, slim faced guys should wear Windsor knots. We could debate the merits of that theory for days, but why do that when we can offer a simpler solution: the semi-spread collar. Wide enough to handle a large knot, slim enough to not leave too much empty space when you’ve got a smaller tie knot, it’s the most versatile collar out there.

Alternative Tie Knots

Of course, some of you out there might be reading this and wondering if you have any other options besides the three knots above. The answer is, most resoundingly, yes. There are hundreds of tie knots out there. We’ve highlighted a couple of our favorites, the Eldredge Knot and the Trinity Knot in the past with instructions on how to tie them. Of course, these tie knots are not exactly your everyday knots but they’re great for special occasions.

Do you swear by a tie knot we didn’t even cover? Tell us about your favorite tie knot (from the exotic to the simple) in the comments below.

Like What You See? There's More.

We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.

13 thoughts on “The Right Tie Knot For You”

  1. Piers says:

    In my humble opinion, I always go for and also recommend the sadly too often forgotten Pratt knot. This knot bears the advantages of being symmetric and balanced whilst remaining at a medium size (which doesn’t require longer ties like a Windsor nor lots of time to tie every morning).

    The Pratt knot will fit nicely on most collars, from Italian to French. It may even pull it off on certain club collars.

    To me the Pratt is optimized for most men, a wide variety of collars and every tie fabric (tight enough to avoid silk to loosen and easy enough to tie with knit ties). It’s a masterpiece of a knot =)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The Pratt knot is a nice alternative to the Windor for the guy who likes a bigger knot and wears spread or cutaway collars. Clearly, that’s not news to you, Piers. One thing we would add is that tying a Pratt knot pretty much guarantees a nice dimple in your tie.

      While it’s not for everybody, those who like it (like you), LOVE it.

  2. Ruben Garcia says:

    Need help matching a tie with a black shirt, suit is a dark gray color

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Our first bit of advice is not to wear a tie with a black shirt. We believe black shirts are casual and shouldn’t be worn with suits and ties unless you’re going for the whole 20’s gangster costume look.

      For an alternative shirt color to wear with your dark suit, we suggest you take our advice on matching your coloring to that of your shirts that we highlighted in the story on creating your own shirt style.

  3. Xavier says:

    I find the Van Wink tie knot to very interesting, but not sure what type of collar and face shape it would go with. I personally have a slim to medium size face.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You meant the “Van Wijk” tie knot, right Xavier? That’s the cylindrical one that comes out super skinny. When tied tight, this ultra slim knot will accentuate the jowls of all but the slimmest faced men, so beware if you have a fuller face. As far as collar type, this knot is slim enough to fit into a point collar and would work with a semi-spread collar as well. We’d advise against a cutaway or spread collar for this knot since it is so cylindrical and skinny.

  4. Mike says:

    The four in hand knot looks lopsided and I have never liked it. I honestly don’t think anyone should do it. It gives the appearance of something half done.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So what’s your knot, Mike? Windsor knot? Half-Windsor? Alternative knot?

  5. Joe says:

    I’m the guy who’s using the same four-in-hand I learned as a kid… Guilty! But the half-windsor is only one step extra and quite easy to shift into without too much reprograming to the years of muscle memory. I’ll give it a go. I’ve been using collar-bar and tab collars so the smaller knot of the four-in-hand was ideal there. Now starting to buy semi-spread collars and liking them a lot, so this is perfect timing. Thanks folks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      All excellent points, Joe. The collar bar does require a smaller knot, so you were smart to go with the four-in-hand when wearing them. Now, in your semi-spread collar days, you can easily make the transition to the half-Windsor once you get into the habit.

      Happy knotting!

  6. Brian says:

    Despite my thin face I go full Windsor. It is based on different types of proportion though: tie width and tie length. Like John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, ties and belts should be the bests of friends. Never leave too much space between them and never let them cross each other over. They need to meet and have a just barley touching relationship, kind of like a solid high five as opposed to holding hands.

    The key with width is where you start your knot. Most ties progressively get wider. If you are around the neck and skinny portion meets slightly less skinny portion at the knot point, a full Windsor will have the thickness of a half Windsor but more badass look of a full Windsor.

    But this is what works for me and my my 5’9″ self. I generally wear 2 1/2″ width ties which are on the skinnier side and that also keeps my knots thinner. And as you mentioned, material matters too. Full Windsor with a thick wool tie gives the short tie clown look. I go with a thin knot to keep the tie long enough to endure a healthy friendship with my belt.

    Happy Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.