Living Well: 4 Secrets To Tying a Necktie

By Lindsey Johnson.

Friends, we’ve covered a few basics like ironing dress shirts and polishing shoes, and now that the Holidays are upon us, I’d love to show you — with some help from my expert husband — the proper way to tie a necktie.

The two basic knots everyone should know how to tie are the Four-in-Hand knot and the Full Windsor knot. If this sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry a bit! I’ve got lots of pictures demonstrating each step. You’ll be an expert yourself in no time at all.


The four-in-hand is the most basic of all the knots. It’s the easiest one to learn and the knot that will cover most any tie-wearing occasions. It produces an asymmetrical knot  (Secret #1: Notice how one side is straight and the other is not.) It is also smaller than other knots and works well with traditional collars, skinny ties, and for shorter ties or tall men. Tie length is another topic for another day!)

Step 1:  Flip the collar of the shirt up and place the tie around the neck, letting the wider side drape a bit longer than the narrow side.

Secret #2: Whether the wide end is on the left or right depends on whether you are right or left handed. My husband is right-handed so the wide end is on his right side.

Step 2:  Cross the wide end over the narrow end.

Step 3: Bring it around behind, holding the wide end horizontally to the side. Notice how he keeps his thumb underneath to hold things in place.

Step 4: Place a forefinger on top (to prevent the fabric from slipping) and bring the wide end back around the front again.

Notice he’s still holding things in place with his finger.

Step 5: Pull the wider end up through the neck loop and down the front.

Step 6:  Pull the wider part through the front loop.

Step 7:  Adjust the tie into place by pulling gently on the narrow end until it slides up into place.

Very easy, very basic. Next up….my personal favorite knot.

Full Windsor

This knot is also called a Double Windsor. It is named after the Duke of Windsor. Secret #3: This method creates a larger, symmetrical knot that works well with spread collars traditionally found on English-made shirts. It’s a little trickier and may take a little more practice to perfect it, but once you do, it’s totally worth it. Because it looks great.

Let’s begin!

Step 1:  Start as before with the wider end on the right side, hanging down much longer than the narrow side.  Secret #4: The Full Windsor requires more of the length of the tie, so be sure the narrow end is much shorter with this knot or the wide end will be too short once the knot has been tied.

Step 2:  Cross the wide end over the narrow end.

This is what it looks like from the side.

Step 3:  Bring the wide end up through center/neck loop and pull it to the left.

Step 4: Bring the wide end back around underneath the narrow end (to the right) and up through the front of the center/neck loop and pull it tight. Hold the wide end horizontally to the right side.

(The neck loop will look like a “V” with the tie wrapped around each side, the narrow end in the middle, and the wide end off to the right.)

Step 5:  Cross the wide end across the front to the left and up through the center/neck loop.

Step 6:  Push the wide end through the front loop.

Step 7:  Pull the wide end down gently through the loop and adjust into place.

Congratulations! You did it. And my, you are looking good!

Feeling ready to tackle another basic knot? The Half Windsor is another great one to learn.

P.S. — Be sure to check out my other helpful tips on how to properly dress a gentleman. The whole series of Secrets To Living Well posts can be found here.

9 thoughts on “Living Well: 4 Secrets To Tying a Necktie”

  1. My dad wore a suit to work every day for probably 30 years and tied a full Windsor every morning (I guess his office is more relaxed now and he just wears a shirt and tie). I can remember sitting on the bathroom counter and watching him. :) Husband ties a four-in-hand, which is also nice, but it’s not how I know how to do it!

  2. Dimples people, dimples! These look like a church deacon’s tie. And aside from NFL linebackers, no one should ever tie a full windsor.

      1. Dimples on ties are essential to achieving a polished look. And yeah, the full windsor should only be worn by fussy old men. Straight men should stick to the four-in-hand (with a dimple).

  3. Pingback: Happy Friday! | Breakfast in Moscow

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