A Very Simple Guide to Tie Knots

March 3rd, 2015


This one is simple.

There is only one tie knot that you should be tying: the four-in-hand.


I almost always question the taste level of a guy wearing a Windsor knot. It’s really just not a good looking shape for a necktie; a big triangular fist of silk. If you’re worried about needing a big enough knot to “fill the space of a wide spread collar” than you should looking for is a denser tie fabric (or you can try wrapping the four-in-hand around twice in step 3 above). Also, it’s okay to show a little neckband under a cutaway collar, like here.

The four-in-hand is a handsome knot because of it’s casual sense of ease. It’s not perfectly symmetrical. It’s slightly-askew. And because of its unpredictable dimples, every four-in-hand knot is unique.

If you look through the AOS archives (using the Style Guide), you’ll see that we’ve almost exclusively used the four-in-hand for years. James Bond never trusted a man in a windsor knot…and neither do we, in matters of style.


That’s all for today. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • http://racingtoaredlight.com/ spencer096

    i like the windsor knot


  • Jared Adelson

    Dan, the most stylish hockey player Henrik Lundqvist wears half-windsors. Check out his press conference from yesterday. If he does it…

  • Tony Bannister

    Unusually prescriptive for you, Dan.

    The double four-in-hand is also a very elegant knot.

  • GP

    I’ve read the comments and I think we sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees. Are we not all men with our own opinions? What/How I wear/don’t wear a garment should really not be that much of a concern for another adult male. We come here for Dan’s sense of fashion and for the bravado that he uses in some of his articles. Dan is by no means the end-all-be-all of fashion(no offense), so his opinion of the state of the tie-knot uion address is not the gospel. It is a suggestion at best. I wear a multitude of tie knots and it is based many time upon the cut/shape/fabric of the tie, along with the collar style/how that collar rests on my neck/ and the look I want to achieve that day. The real issue here is that many of the gents that visit this site are at different points of their style journey, so many read the words here and follow them to the letter, becoming more as sheep than lions. Ill remain a lion and do what I like when I want when it comes to my knots. Calm down gents, its only a piece of fabric tied around your neck. Be blessed.

  • Steve

    My dad taught me the pratt/Shelby. I’ve tried the others, and this is still the only one I use. Probably because it’s familiar. It makes a beautiful dimple every time, but is pretty symmetrical (which I like)

  • Dave Coakley

    Agree with your comments on the Windsor knot.

    Let’s clear this one up, once and for all: Only vulgarly dressed premiership football players who have too much money, too quickly, insist on dressing with these ridiculous over sized watch faces and tie knots.

    If Prince Charles, and Prince Phillip refuse to wear a Windsor knot (and they ARE Windors!)….you should too! ; )

    Regimental ties tied with the neatest little knot. That’s where it’s at, as far as i’m concerned.

  • TO

    I agree with this whole-heartedly! There is one more point that can be added here and that is when opting for a double four-in-hand you have two options of where to ultimately feed the tie through. Under both wraps is more nonchalant and less ‘perfect’ but has more character and under the last wrap is perhaps neater while being a little less interesting!

  • Harrison Krupnick

    I can never get a good knot with a four in hand. I only use windsor knots but I tie them very differently than most. I tight my as tightly as possible so the knot is a small triangle. Most of the time it is smaller than the four in hand knots that I see around. I like the symmetrical triangular shape. I also feel as if I cannot get the four in hand to tie tighter. Nonetheless, the four in hand if tied well looks great and I’m envious of those of you who can tie it well.

  • djsavenger

    Dan, I think your personal preference is becoming a prejudice. Different knots work with different looks and different collars…not to mention different builds and different heads. Just as a Full Windsor does not look right on you, there are men who cannot make a four-in-hand work.

    • Yes

      Yea but the full Windsor looks like shit on everyone

    • cam


  • Max BornInTheNineties

    Screw this single mindedness. I do a half-Windsor and it looks as nonchalant as you like.

    • cam


      • Max BornInTheNineties


        • cam


          • Max BornInTheNineties

            I’ll let you have the last word

  • http://unseenflirtspoetry.wordpress.com Unseen Flirtations

    The true art is in adjusting the length to achieve the desired drop FIRST TIME

  • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

    Half-Windsors and Full-Windsors are two completely different knots that shouldn’t even be called the same, let alone be jointly referred to as “the Windsor knots”. One is symmetrical, triangle-shaped and boring, while the other i asymmetrical, a bit nonchalant and actually passable, as it’s really not substantially different from the four-in-hand.

    I too favor the latter 95% of the time, but sometimes it just feels too small (i.e. with unlined ties; 5-folds, 6-folds, etc), and the half-windsor saves the day.

    • cam

      just do as dan suggest and double up the four in hand

      • Jimmy_Johansen

        When you’re 6’2″, doubling up on a four in hand may not be enough. That’s when a Kelvin comes in handy. Part of style is having your own… I appreciate Dan’s opinion, but it’s not the Gospel.

        • cam

          i briefly looked at this so-called kelvin knot and correct me if im wrong but it IS a double four in hand no?

        • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

          A Kelvin is a double four in hand.

      • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

        Linen ties, cotton ties, knit ties and particularly unlined ties crease pretty badly as it is. A double four in hand only makes things worse, as the tie will crease in multiple sections. A half-windsor isn’t THAT bad, really.

        • Max BornInTheNineties

          I’d go further and say a half-Windsor results in just as attractive a knot as a four-in-hand. It’s just a big more pointed, that’s all!

          You could read this post as being about the virtues of an asymmetric knot. Still, the snobbish tone of this article is disappointing.

  • AdamE

    Knit tie, wool tie, silk tie… the only thing I don’t tie with a four in hand is a bow tie… I actually like the asymmetry of the four in hand, it’s clean, but not too perfect… the windsor knots are too perfect so you always get the impression that someone with one is hiding something…

    There very much is a history around some of the tie knots… which is likely why they persist…

    • Tony Bannister

      “windsor knots are too perfect so you always get the impression that someone with one is hiding something…”

      That’s a weird interpretive bias to impose on a mere tie knot

  • Jared Adelson

    Ha… I wonder if this was in response to my comment/question from last week…

  • Jeanscuffed

    I almost always use the four in hand, but got frustrated with the “askew-ness” of the knot. I guess that’s the character the knot has. I’ve tried puffing out the back part of the tie to make it look symmetrical

    • Tony Bannister

      Try a double four-in-hand. It has a bit more bulk and behaves slightly differently.

  • cam

    couldn’t agree more but i’m sure you’re gonna get comments trying to defend windsor knots etc with certain collar styles…i just laugh every time someone tries to do that w me

  • Jon

    Dan, what, if any, is the reason for the various tie knots? Is there history behind them, or simply people’s desire to do something different.

  • http://www.levitatestyle.com Levitate Style

    That’s my go-to! Quick and easy knot. Do you recommend this for Knit ties too? Feel like I always have trouble tying a knit tie perfectly