All knots are not the same


Simple, double, Windsor, Onassis, St. Andrew: a quick guide to the most common ways to knot a tie

How many ways can you knot a tie? In 1999 two physicists from the University of Cambridge, using mathematical models based on nothing less than the motion of atoms and the so-called “theory of knots”, identified as many as 85. It’s no wonder, then if you have a moment of hesitation about how to knot your tie: what is the most suitable knot for the fabric, the outfit and the occasion in which you choose to wear it?

A simple classic

First of all, it makes sense to narrow our options to those that are truly useful, which not be chance correspond to the most widely used ones, starting from the simple knot, also known as the “four-in-hand” knot or “fourfold” knot. It’s the most popular knot because it’s quick and easy to do, as well as suitable for practically all types of ties as well as for all shirt collars. The name “four-in-hand” derives, according to some people, from the knot coachmen used to tie the reins of a group of four horses. For others, instead, the origin of its name comes from a famous London club. To do the knot, it’s enough to cross the front blade of the tie over the narrow back blade: the result is an asymmetric knot, seen as not particularly formal and thus suitable for every occasion that doesn’t demand absolute elegance. Not surprisingly, this knot is especially popular with  young people,  as it gives their look a touch of class, without making them appear too serious.

A princely double knot

The double knot, instead, represents an evolution of the simple knot: compared to the simple knot, it requires a second turn of the front blade of the tie, which must be rolled twice around the narrow back blade. The result is more striking, but not necessarily more formal than the four-in-hand knot: in the end, it’s also an asymmetric knot, which makes it suitable for all types of ties (with the exception  of those that are extremely wide), collars and occasions. The double knot is known as the Prince Albert knot, from the name of Prince Albert of England, who is said to have been a habitué.

Symmetrical and impeccable

More refined is the Windsor knot, which – according to tradition – was invented by King Edward VIII of England (the former Duke of Windsor) in person. In addition to being very popular, this tie knot is among the most elegant and eye-catching, one of those that doesn’t go unnoticed: indeed, what makes it stand out is its maxi volume, which makes it suitable especially for those with large necks, and its typical inverted triangle shape. Its perfect symmetry requires a tie that isn’t too thick and longer than normal: if the knot is done correctly, it is positioned exactly at the center of the collar of the shirt, preferably a Windsor or Italian Standard model. This impeccable knot,  ça va sans dire, is ideal for special occasions.

1960s inspiration

It’s impossible not to mention the Onassis knot, which takes its name from the famous Greek shipowner Aristotele Onassis, who in the 1960s made it popular.  It’s an extremely original and rather fanciful knot: indeed, the wide band of the tie doesn’t go through the knot in its last passage but hangs freely in front, leading to a scarf effect.  An unfinished knot, therefore, not right for everyone, but perfect for those who want to stand out, perhaps on occasions that aren’t overly formal: it goes particularly well with vests and waistcoats and should be used with wide ties and, if necessary, a clip to hold the front band steady.

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