01
Jun
10

One Guy’s Daily Tip: Ditch the Full Windsor Knot


Many men grew up being taught the Full-Windsor tie knot.  This was the first knot taught to me.  I’m not entirely sure why this is, but my guess would be that the ties in the 1980’s and 1970’s were generally fairly thin in terms of their material.  Whereas today, most ties are much more substantially constructed, even those that are narrow in width.  The thicker a tie’s material, the thicker your knot will be.  This means that ties from the 80’s and 70’s required more substantial knots in light of their thin construction than today’s knots.  Gentlemen, it’s time to leave the Full-Windsor behind.

The three most common tie knots, from least substantial to most substantial are: the Four-in-Hand, the Half-Windsor and the Full-Windsor.  The Four-in-Hand is slightly asymmetrical, while the Half-Windsor and Full-Windsor are meant to be symmetrical.

There are a number of considerations when tying a tie: first is the spread of your shirt collar (the bigger the spread, the more substantial the knot, generally speaking – that said, Prince Charles regularly ties a Four-in-Hand with a highly spread Cutaway Collar and looks very dashing).  Second is the thickness of the material used in the tie.  Third is the width of the lapels of your suit.  Finally, there’s the size of knot that you’d like to end up with.  Currently, most suits have fairly narrow lapels, meaning that it would look out of place to have a really substantial tie knot.  Furthermore, as mentioned above, most ties are thickly constructed, meaning that a less substantial knot is required.  Finally, I would suggest that the Full-Windsor (featured in the picture above) is far and away the least aesthetically pleasing of the tie knots.  This is because it is often far too large when tied with a modern tie and is generally wider than it is long, which serves to widen the look of one’s face much like wearing horizontal stripes do to one’s body.  (More after the jump)

In Britain, the Full Windsor has become known colloquially as the “Footballer’s Knot”, which associates the massive Full-Windsor with the often garish style of professional athletes (seen below on former NFL wide receiver Michael Irvin).  In many cases, a Full-Windsor most closely resembles a silk fist below your chin (see the photo of the gentleman in the orange tie above).  It is not an aesthetically pleasing choice, and, since it requires so much fabric to tie, often leaves one’s tie too short.

If you like the symmetric look of the Full-Windsor, I would highly recommend tying a Half-Windsor (which is tied precisely like the Full-Windsor, except with half the steps – more can be found on that here: ).  If you like the more asymmetric, visually interesting Four-in-Hand, it will always be an appropriate choice (as I mentioned, it’s Prince Charles’ knot of choice, and few people are required to be more proper and appropriate than him).  But, I would suggest not tying a Full-Windsor – you really don’t want to be in the same sartorial category as loutish professional athletes (and I’m saying this as a big sports fan; they just don’t dress well as a group) or a mafioso.

Instead, do yourself a favour and tie a Four-in-Hand (below on the left), or probably make the easier transition to the Half Windsor (below on the right).  I’ll leave you with a passage from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, From Russia, With Love: “Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor Knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”  Well stated Mr. Fleming.

Until next time, gentlemen…

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9 Responses to “One Guy’s Daily Tip: Ditch the Full Windsor Knot”


  1. 1 George Miller
    March 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I have to disagree with you. When a Windsor knot is tied properly, it can look very tidy. The pictures you have posted here are absolutely hideous examples of the knot (actually, I’m not convinced the 3rd picture is even a Windsor anyway). I would suggest that the term “footballer’s knot” would have been applied to whatever knot footballers chose to tie because they are so lousy at it. The fact that they can’t match their shirts & ties to their suits only serves to make it look even worse.

    If you attempt to tie a Windsor & end up looking like the pics above, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG – take it off & start again!

    Besides, there are plenty of great alternatives to the three knots you have mentioned. The 4-in-hand (aka schoolboy knot) is for simpletons. Try learning the Kelvin, Pratt, St Andrew, Plattsburgh, Cavendish or Hanover knots if you want to try something different.

  2. 2 Maximilian Lecuirot-Bodenham
    March 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I disagree. Many ties are still fairly thin, and Windsor knots can be made to be neat little things, if tied properly. I cannot stand politicians and other people on TV tying schoolboy Four-in-hand knots. They look horribly asymmetrical and amateurish. A tightly tied Windsor is a much more balanced knot, and suggests that the individual has taken the time to look that little bit smarter. There is a reason that Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force use the Windsor knot: It gives a fantastic triangular shape. The problem lies with footballers and other sportsmen knot (get it?) being able to tie a windsor properly, leading to the enormous knots you have so aptly chosen for your images. This is not the most representative Windsor you could have chosen.
    Good sir, kindly refrain from slamming a good knot like the Windsor, in favour of an infantile, vulgar knot like the Four-In-Hand.

    Sincerely,
    A Fellow Anorak

  3. March 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Just to be contrary, I agree. I prefer the four-in-hand. I prefer an asymmetrical knot. I prefer a longer knot. When I do wear a cutaway collar I tend to use the Nicky. It’s not that I don’t know how to tie any other knots. I am not too simple, nor vulgar, nor infantile. Quite the contrary. I am a semi-educated adult that has learned to value the choices I do still have.

  4. 4 Maximilian Lecuirot-Bodenham
    May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    All I was saying, is that the photographs of the windsor shown, are all of poorly tied windsors, whereas a good windsor is not much larger than a four in hand. Of course it is a preference, but at least post a balanced argument on a blog, rather than choosing the best aspects of one, and exaggerating the faults of the other.

  5. 5 Tom
    July 21, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Some awful examples of Windsors above, just look at that blonde goon.

    Horses for courses I say. Depends on the collar and the tie. The ridiculously voluminous Windsor is horrendous, but correctly executed it can be superb.

  6. 6 Curtis
    April 28, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I agree that the full Windsor should be ditched, and should be replaced by the Plattsburgh knot. It’s not very widely known, but you can now easily find it on Google. The resulting knot is triangular in shape, tidy, easy to tie, and one of the most attractive knots out there. Give it a try.

  7. 7 San
    September 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    That’s a well tied windsor.

  8. April 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

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    Great website, stick with it!

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