The Best Ways to Tie a Tie, According to an Expert

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Lewis Malivanek from Knot Standard tells us the best ways to tie a tie.

Did you know your tie knot can make your face look wide? None of us want to walk into a cocktail party with a wide face, so we reached out to Lewis Malivanek, Creative Director of Knot Standard, to guide us through the various ways to tie a tie and which knot works for what occasion.

There are two things a gent should always consider, his face shape and the construction of the tie. If you have a wide face, you don’t want a super skinny tie knot. Also, if you want a thick knot, you can’t use an unlined silk tie since it just doesn’t have the thickness to make the knot look good. And every tie should have a dimple. That’s a clear sign that you know what you are doing

You also have to consider the fabric for the length of the tie. If you make a full windsor with a thick wool tie it may just end halfway down your shirt. This isn’t a clown party. So be sure the fabric of your tie will work with the knot you want to use.

Since tie tacks and tie bars have gone by the wayside in recent years, it’s ok to let the back of your tie show a little bit in less formal occasions. You don’t always have to tuck it into the tie loop or (gasp) tuck it in your shirt. This gives you and your look a feel of casual elegance.

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Patterns are something to consider too. If your jacket is on the bright side or has a pattern, your tie should be solid or have a wide stripe. But if you are wearing a solid color blazer, patterned ties can add some personality to your look. And for the record, your tie and pocket square don’t need to match. In fact, unless it’s a wedding, they shouldn’t. Just pull some colors from the tie or even from your sunglasses, watch, or shoes to draw the outfit together.

If tied properly, your tie should brush the top of your belt. And if you aren’t wearing a belt (or your pants have side tabs), it should land half an inch below the top of the waistband.

As for which knot to wear when, Malivanek broke it down for us here.

Four in Hand

This is the skinniest, most casual and elegant knot. It really caters to any type of tie as well as face and neck shape, although they look best with skinnier faces and necks. Use a thicker tie (wool, lined, silk knit) for this slim knot. The Four in Hand works well with chinos or jeans too since it is less formal and rigid.

Double Four in Hand

This is the same as the Four in Hand, you just loop it twice for a little more girth. This works well for linen or silk ties when you still want to have a casual and classic look.

Half Windsor

A more formal knot for board meetings, weddings, and business dinners, it works well with cutaway collars since you are showing a little bit more tie. Malivanek recommends a full suit or tuxedo and it works well with someone who has a heavier or wider face and neck to even things out.

Full Windsor

Malivanek never recommends this knot. It can make the face look disproportionally big. Some guys think it will make the tie look more proportional. Not true.  Some guys think a shorter jacket will make them look taller, it’s just not the case. If you do choose this knot, use a very fine silk tie. It would only be used for something like Ascot or a serious business occasion but the Half Windsor is still preferable.