This is going to be my first semi-serious fashion related post on this blog. Recently, even over just the past week, I haven’t been able to escape the novelty tie knot. This includes (but is not limited to) the Merovingian knot (illustrated here by MensWearStyle), the Eldridge knot (illustrated here by AgreeOrDie) and the Trinity knot (illustrated here by BlackLapel). I feel that in order to be completely truthful in these blogs, I have to say that these all just make me gag a little. Here is my reasoning:
1) One of the things I love most about menswear is the resistance to trends and fads, and the ability to stand out and be noticeable without resorting to novelty tricks. Timelessness, elegance, class, these are all things I associate with quality menswear, and my goal is for my attire to reflect these attributes. The reaction I look for when I dress isn’t, “holy hell! What is that on your neck?” or, “that is CRAZY.”
2) I read somewhere once, and fully agree, that a tie should literally and figuratively tie together an outfit. It shouldn’t be the centerpiece. I have a few bright or patterned ties, but I am always careful to make sure they accentuate other parts of my outfit, rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. I think these big, in-your-face novelty knots can be jarring when you look at an outfit in its entirety (especially when paired with sleek and classic outfit, like a white dress shirt or a simple suit).
3) The last is more personal preference. I prefer my knots to be a little more casual, less symmetrical, and I strive to avoid the big “Dorito” triangle in any of my knots. This usually just means I don’t tie a Windsor very often, but these knots go above and beyond the Windsor in terms of (if you ask me) clunky, conformed shape, which (once again, if you ask me), takes away all the subtle, sexy class that neckwear brings to an outfit.
Honestly, I pretty much only ever use two knots, and have not really been too tempted to branch out. I’m a skinny guy on the shorter side of average height and I wear fitted shirts and skinny ties. I also rarely go full suit, and am, if anything, overdressed at my job. This has led me to the 4-in-hand as my go-to knot. The lack of symmetry makes it a bit more casual of a knot, which helps me dress down a bit to fit the office atmosphere. Additionally, it is a small knot, which looks more appropriate both when using a skinny tie and on my frame in general.
When the occasion calls for something a little more formal or substantial (spread-collar shirt), I go for the Shelby/Pratt knot. This may seem a little unorthodox, but I have very simple reasoning. Most people in these situations reach for a Windsor, or maybe a Half-Windsor. I prefer the Pratt once again as a slightly smaller knot. My take on the Pratt is that it is basically a Windsor-styled knot that they make a half-wrap skinnier by essentially starting with the tie inside-out (give it a try and see what I mean). This gives me a knot with a solid structure that doesn’t take over my neck. It’s also a little shorter of a knot which helps steer away from the ‘Dorito’ problem.
Essentially, find a knot that works for you, and stick with it. Leave the crazy knots to the boy scouts (har har har, I know) and find other ways to stand out, or just stand out by looking good among all those schlubs out there!
For good directions on how to tie any of these knots, my friends at Tie Society have an ongoing series of instructional videos, and you can find step-by-step drawings all over the web. Practice makes perfect! To see some of my knots (not that they are anything special), check out my instagram at @WideEyesTWBlog. I try to participate in Frank and Oak’s #NecktieFriday competition every week, and most of my submissions are on instagram.