The first thing someone’s eyes see after your face is your collar and tie. This duo sets up the rest of your look, so they deserve consideration. A tie knot too small will show the neck of your tie, while a knot too big will make your collar lumpy. Picking the right knot is simply a matter of filling the collar space with your own inimitable but fashionably correct style.
Collars fall into two primary categories: Turndown and Wing. Wing collars require bowties, while the shape and width of the turndown collar will inform you which tie knot to pick. Turndown collars come in several widths and styles.
- Button Down – The Button Down is a straight collar with the points buttoned. Traditionally narrow and less formal, the Four-in-Hand knot suits this collar well. Narrow collars without buttons invite slightly more formal knots like the Van Wilk or the Cavendish. The Krasny Hourglass and Cape knots will also suit these collars on more dapper occasions.
- Club – The Club is a straight collar with rounded points. Stick with the narrow knots for this casual collar, including the Four-in-Hand and the Half-Windsor.
- Tab or Pin – This collar includes tab or pin holes on the points to secure the collar and lift the tie. The overall controlled look coordinates well with similarly controlled knots like the Four-in-Hand; however, a bolder knot like the Trinity can speak volumes if worn with surety.
- Spread – This collar spreads out wider than Button Down or Club collars. A Spread calls for a Half-Windsor at least, though wider knots will fill the collar more comfortably. Consider a Full Windsor, Capsule, or Onassis knot.
- Semi-spread – This collar’s angle sits halfway between a narrow collar like the Button Down and a full Spread. A smaller tie knot with some volume coordinates with this collar, such as the Half-Windsor, Shelby, or Nicky Knots.
- Cutaway – Shaped like a wide, nearly flat cone, these collars reveal more upper shirt, leaving room for larger knots. These bold collars cut away deliberately to show off the whole knot, so take full advantage of this opportunity. Equally bold knots include the creative Eldredge and Boutonniere knots. In more conservative settings, a Balthus or Full Windsor knot will do.
In the end, if your collar lies smooth, only the knot of your tie is visible, and if it’s a knot you feel satisfied with, then you’ve picked the right tie knot.