How to Tie a Necktie – Steps & Techniques

There are three “standard” necktie knots, Four-In-Hand, Windsor, Half Windsor and one “not so” standard, The Pratt or Shelby.

Also below, how to tie a Bow tie and an Ascot.


In the 1890’s the term originally referred to a coach drawn by four horses in two teams driven in tandem by a single person.  It was considered great sport by the young men of the day and they organized into clubs.

Also adopted the way professional coachmen knotted their ties with two long trailing ends like the reins.  A similar French yachting knot is known as a “regate”.  The knot is small for most shirt collar styles, but requires some work at the end to keep it from looking crooked.

How to Tie a Four-In-Hand

Start with wide end of the tie on your right and extending a foot below narrow end.
   Cross wide end over narrow, and back underneath.
   Continue around, passing wide end across front of narrow once more.
   Pass wide end up through loop.
   Holding front of knot loose with index finger pass wide end down through loop in front.
  Remove finger and tighten knot carefully. Draw up tight to collar by holding narrow end and sliding knot up snug. Remove finger and tighten knot carefully creating a dimple just under the knot.



introduced, but probably not invented by the Duke of Windsor, abdicated King Edward VIII who wore the knot when he was Prince of Wales.  A wide knot but square, which is perfect for spread shirt collar styles.

How to Tie a Full Windsor

  Start with the wide end on your right extended about 12 inches below the narrow end
    Cross the wide end over the narrow and bring it up through the loop
   Bring the wide end down, around behind the narrow and up on your right
  Put the wide end down through the loop and across the narrow
   Turn the wide end and pass it right the loop
   Complete the knot by slipping the wide end through the knot in front
   Tighten creating a dimple just under the knot.


Half Windsor

A smaller version of the full Windsor. 

Ignore step #4 in the Windsor knot so that you only make one of the two side loops.

How to Tie a Half Windsor

Start with wide end of tie on your right and extending a foot below narrow end.
  Cross wide end over narrow and turn back underneath.
  Bring up and turn down through loop.
  Pass wide end around front from left to right.
  Then up through loop
  And down through knot in front. Tighten carefully and draw up to collar creating a dimple just under the knot. 

Pratt or Shelby

Introduced in August of 1989 it was reportedly invented by Jerry Pratt who worked for the US Chamber of Commerce, but made famous by Minneapolis news anchor Don Shelby.  A 92-year-old viewer disgruntled with Shelby’s atrocious on-air tie knots showed him how to tie the new knot.

How to Tie a Pratt (Shelby)

1.   Start with the tie inside out, front side toward your neck and wide end on your right 12 inches lower than the narrow end

2.   Take the wide end over and under the narrow end

3.   Pull the neck loop down and tighten

4.   Take the wide end and pull it across to the right

5.   Pull the wide end under the loop of the knot

6.   Tighten creating the dimple

7.   You may turn the narrow end right side out if you want

The “all-important” DIMPLE

Even if you have tied the most perfect knot in the history of the world, if it doesn’t have a perfect dimple just under the knot it ain’t perfect! Sophisticated men and women notice a tie knot’s dimple.



How to get one?  Place your index finger in the middle of the tie just under where the knot is forming, pinch that part of the necktie between your thumb and middle finger and squeeze together as you pull it down and tighten the knot.

The necktie knot should hide the collar button.






Ties should end within the area of the belt buckle (not above and not below).  Even if you’re wearing braces!

So how can you tie your knot so that the front falls to your belt buckle, since all tie lengths may be different? The secret is that the knot is constant!

So the solution is to tie your regular tie knot, then carefully untie it so that you can measure the length of tie material that makes up the knot. 

My knot happens to be the exact length between the small finger and thumb of my right hand fully stretched out. This is handy for me since I don’t have to take a measuring stick when I travel. 

To get the front end of the tie to fall within the range of your belt buckle just add your knot length measurement to the length of the long part of your tie, below your belt buckle. 

So when you start to tie your tie, the wide end will be hanging below your belt buckle, the exact length of your knot!

Hysterical err Historical Knots:

The Prince Albert

Named for the husband of English Queen Victoria, this is the four-in-hand with a double wrap around horizontally before the wide end finally passes through the last of the two loops. 

Allow the first loop to show through

The Onassis

This is how the Greek shipping VIP tied his knot in the late 1950’s and it was also popular for a few minutes in the 1960’s with white belts and shoes, this is another variation of the four-in-hand except that the wide end goes over the knot, hides it and hangs from the top.

How to Tie a Bowtie

Remember the motion is similar to tying your shoelaces!


Start with end in left hand extending 1½” below that in right hand.
  Cross longer end over shorter and pass up through loop. Remember the motion is similar to tying your shoelaces!
  Form front loop of bow by doubling up short end (hanging) and placing across collar points.
  Hold this front loop with thumb and forefinger of left hand. Drop long end down over front.
  Press right forefinger, pointing up, on bottom half of hanging part.  Pass up behind front loop and…
  Poke resulting loop through knot behind front loop (see illustration).  Even ends and tighten by pulling on the loops.


How to Tie an Ascot



Start with the right end extending 6” before the left end.


Cross the right end over the left end and back underneath


Continue around passing the right end across the front of left end once more


Pass right end up through loop at neck


Bring right end down over left end


Adjust bib at throat to cover the knot, tuck ascot point under shirt front, leaving shirt open

If part of morning coat attire, the ascot is worn outside the shirt, but you can use a stick pin to keep it together.

— Andy Gilchrist