December 21, 2012

The Art of...
Tying a necktie


The venerable necktie has taken a buffeting in recent years from the massive fad for casual wear. But lo and behold, it has bounced back into favor with a generation of smart young men who have again embraced the classic codes of male apparel, and for whom the House of Thomas Pink, with its true-blue British shirts and ties and know-how, is a crucible of sartorial style.

In other words, the tie is back! But that makes it no easier to master the art of knotting it if you have yet to kick the open-necked shirt and floppy T-shirt habit. Start slowly but deliberately by treating yourself to a very, very nice shirt—a pleasure that men do not indulge in as frequently as they should….

A classic, pristine white shirt with a semi cutaway collar (a collar with an average spread, suitable for a wide choice of neckties), purchased—why not?—from a Thomas Pink "White Shirt Bar", will present the ideal blank page on which to practice your tie-tying skills.Next comes the choice of tie, which of course is a matter of style and personal preference.

Novices would be well advised to start with a good quality pure silk tie in a plain color or a discreet, two-tone pattern (navy blue always goes nicely). Bow ties are a possibility and have made a stunning comeback in the past few years—to carry off their sophisticated retro humor, all you need is a dash of aplomb.

The next fateful question is whether to knot or not? Before answering, please be aware that the experts at Thomas Pink are adamant: a tie is worn tied, period. And not just any old how. Forget the untied tie draped casually around a gaping collar post concert Sinatra-style, an ersatz relaxed look. Be smart, knot up, and be yourself—a gentleman.

Now, the choice of knot. In fact, the shape of the tie and the spread of the collar (the distance between the tips) make the answer quite straightforward. A widely spread collar cries out for a nice, ample Windsor knot (see box), while a narrower collar bespeaks a more restrained half-Windsor.

The correct knot also depends on the width of the tie. For example, a skinny tie looks best when tied in a simple “schoolboy” knot, also known as a "four-in-hand", for that sharper, edgier look.

Once the tie is tied, it’s time to check the details. Make sure that it hangs straight and centered, that the collar button doesn’t show, and that—heavens forbid!—the narrower, rearward end is no longer than the front wide end.

Inspect the knot and check that it makes a dimple in the top of the tie. If the dimple does not come naturally, pinch and gently pull the tie just below the knot until it does.
And of course, make sure that the rest of your outfit is as classy as your neckwear. But then it would be, wouldn’t it?

The three essential necktie knots:

The “four-in-hand” knot. A classic, easy knot, suitable for all kinds of collar. (photo1)
The “half-Windsor” knot. A wider, more noticeable knot that goes well with more outspoken ties. (photo 2)
The “Windsor” or “full Windsor” knot. A broad, symmetrical, eye-catching knot that looks good with a widely spread collar. (photo3)

How to be a proper tie-wearing gentleman

• Embrace neckties! They come in all flavors: knit for a casual look, striped for the preppy effect, patterned, plain and traditional.... A tie is never out of place. There’s one for every style and every occasion. Refrain, however, from tying one around your forehead like a bandanna, even if your favorite rugby team has just won a cup…

• Take your time. Tying a tie is an art that has to be performed properly, step by step, or not at all.

• Just say no an untied necktie. A tie must either be tied or removed (and lovingly put away in a drawer or hung on a rack designed for the purpose).


• Yes, you can! Achieve a sublimely classic look by wearing a bow tie and dinner jacket. Eschew the ready-made bow tie, of course. A proper gentleman always knots his own.

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