For a few decades now, American men have largely dressed like a bunch of louts: Rather than striving to look our best, we dress as informally as we can possibly get away with in any given situation. Ask anyone who works in a decent restaurant how many grown men they see wearing cargo shorts and T-shirts. Men have even been spotted wearing jeans at funerals. At some point, this trend is going to have to reverse itself; otherwise we’ll eventually spend all of our time in bathrobes and slippers. Want to be on the forefront of the return to dressing well? Learn to tie a necktie.
Let us guess. You only have one tie, and you never really tie or untie it – your dad knotted it for you years ago, and you take it out of the back of your sock drawer once or twice a year for job fairs and fraternity “formals” (actually it’s semiformal, but we can only expect so much). Throw out that tie; it’s ruined and won’t ever hang well again. Buy a decent tie, clip out this article and tape it to your mirror. This is your first step to being a man.
The simplest of the knots, and probably the only one you’ll need, especially if you wear mostly button-down and straight collars. Some are wary of the four-in-hand because it’s slightly asymmetrical, but that’s actually a good thing – you’re going for a rakish, devil-may-care look. Or at least as devil-may-care as one can look in a necktie.
Hang the wide end of the tie about a foot below the narrow end. Bring it across, then underneath the narrow end. Wrap the wide end around again. Pull it up through the loop at your neck, then through the outer loop in the knot. Pull tight and adjust so the tie hangs straight.
A larger and fussier-looking knot than the four-in-hand, the half Windsor should be reserved for spread collars and men with very long necks. The half Windsor is decidedly not rakish. Only use it if you need to.
Hang the wide end of the tie about a foot below the narrow end. Bring it across, then underneath the narrow end. Push the wide end all the way down through the loop at your neck. Bring the wide end across again, then pull it up through the loop. Pull it down through the front of the knot that has begun to form. Tighten the knot, then pull the two sides of the tie at the collar tips to make the knot a triangle. Pull the narrow end to bring the knot to your neck.
Don’t bother learning the full Windsor. Trust us. Unless you’re doing sports commentary for ESPN, you’ll never need it.
A well-formed dimple is essential if you want to look like you know what you’re doing in a necktie. To achieve the dimple, pinch the fabric directly beneath the knot as you tighten it. Keep trying until it comes out right.