Heading Out on Your Own — Day 10: How to Tie the Half-Windsor Necktie Knot

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 10, 2012 · 26 Comments

in Heading Out On Your Own, Visual Guides

1. Drape the tie around your neck. The wide end should extend about 12 inches below the narrow end of the tie. Cross the wide part of the tie over the narrow end.  2. Bring the wide end around and behind the narrow end.  3. Bring the wide end up and pull it down through the hole between your collar and tie.  4. Bring the wide end around the front, over the narrow end from right to left.  5. Bring the wide end back up through the loop between your tie and collar again.  6. Pull the wide end down through the knot in front. Tighten know and center with both hands.

Many young men heading out on their own for the first time have never tied a tie themselves. If that’s you, I’d recommend the Half-Windsor as the first necktie knot you learn. While the Four-in-Hand is the easiest knot to tie, the Half-Windsor looks more symmetrical and formal, while being less bulky than the Full Windsor. It’s a very versatile knot, appropriate for all occasions, and goes well with nearly every collar type, except narrow collars.

Once you’ve mastered the Half-Windsor, branch out and learn how to tie other necktie knots, and the bowtie as well.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrew August 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for the post. That makes it seem very easy. Mine always end up something like this example of how to tie a tie:


2 Jonathan August 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

For the more hefty ties, I’d suggest the even smaller Kelvin knot. Still symmetrical and formal, but uses a lot less fabric compared to the half-windsor. Just another opinion.

3 Keith Thompson August 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm

My preferred knot is the shelby knot, if you tie it even slightly sloppy it still looks super good and it works good on all ties except knit ties. But I’m glad y’all are doing a post on how to tie a tie, I’m surprised at how many of my friends cannot. Keep up the good work.

4 Michael August 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm
5 Paul August 11, 2012 at 1:12 am

Just stick to the Four in Hand (or schoolboy, as we call it in England).
It is by far the most stylish knot precisely because it is never quite symmetrical – to. Too much symmetry is a bad thing, like a non-tilted hat.

6 Steven Allan August 11, 2012 at 5:12 am

In this article you begin by claiming ‘Many young men heading out on their own for the first time have never tied a tie themselves.’
I would argue that if Mummy has always tied your tie upto the age when you are ready to leave home you should seriously consider whether you are really ready for the challenges the world has to throw at you.

7 Eric August 11, 2012 at 7:51 am

Great posts this month. Nomadic pack

8 Allan August 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

I always use the half Windsor when I dress for work. Mostly beacuse of the reasons above, and it’s the one my father taught me, so it’s my default.

I have noticed that it doesn`t work quite as well with a narrow tie, though. It still looks nice, but it just seems a little off when I do it.

9 Dave August 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

Good choice for a go-to knot. The half-windsor is easily my favourite, easy to get right, looks great.

A full windsor is too big, and the shape of the Pratt (which is the same as the Shelby to the guys above) is nowhere near as nice as a nicely done half-windsor if you ask me.

The four-in-hand is a good less-formal option.

10 James August 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

The first thing I ever taught myself how to do through a web search was hot to tie a Windsor and half Windsor back in ’99 with a graphic that looked just like this one… same colors, but with less shade.

11 chris August 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

@ steven allen

I don’t agree with your argument as I was one of those who never learned to tie a tie till I left home to start college. Of course I never really ever had to dress for formal events and if so the most I wore was a button down shirt with the collar open. heck I never owned or wore a suit till college either. But come on just because you mom does a lot for you doesn’t mean you not ready for the so called real world… Does not being able to tie a tie really really make one unready. Its like the mother bird pushing the babies out of the nest when they develop fethers… She took care of them till it was time for the babies to figure it out on there own. Wether they fly or not they are already part of the real world and thus must pave there own way.

12 Jim August 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm

While the Windsor and Half-Windsor are named after the famously well-dressed Duke, he never used them himself. He always tied the four in hand — it’s slight asymmetry creates an air of careless elegance.

13 Ara Bedrossian August 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

All my ties stay knotted and ready to go. Is this something I should be mentioning in public?
Instructive graphic.

14 waykno August 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

When I watch TV, I notice anyone who has a tie on and what knot they use. Most use the four-in-hand. ALL knots should be “worked” at the end to make them look good. Some just tie one, pull it tight and that’s it. Many put a dimple in it–done right, it looks good. I can tie a half-Windsor and my “tie” buddies can’t tell it from a full Windsor. All in the dressing it at the end. To me the half is the best looking but the four-in-hand needs less attention throughout the day. Good article.

15 George August 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I remember when I was eleven and me Dad taught me to tie this tie for school and everyday for five years I tied it I couldn’t tie it any differently

16 CaptainAbrecan August 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

It was my understanding that there was no such thing as a half windsor, it is a misnomer by the ignorant.

There is a windsor and a ‘full windsor’, but no half.

17 Josh Knowles August 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

The half/single Windsor is my default knot for these reasons. I reserve the full/double Windsor for more formal occasions. I find the four-in-hand works well if I’m wearing a shirt and tie with a sweater over top. I doesn’t add as much bulk to the neck area.

Oh, and don’t do what I used to do and just loosen the tie and slip it over your head so you don’t have to tie it again next time. Untie it and smooth it out.

18 TR August 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

The Windsor knots strike me as fussy and try-hard. They’re used by people who put too much emphasis on technical details like this and don’t care enough about the art of dressing well. Actually, I just saw a man with the basting still in the vent of his jacket, but of course he took the time to tie a Half-Windsor!

19 Jim August 13, 2012 at 9:27 am

I hate the half windsor. It is unbalanced and says “I don’t care enough to put one more turn in the knot to make it look nice”. It is the knot of a high school dance.

20 Coop August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

The best part of knowing how to tie the fancy knots is that fake feeling of superiority you get when you see some other clown with his tiny sad knot. Just kidding, kinda. I had a summer where I wore a tie every day but the job was part time, so I spent a few hours learning all the knots… Maybe I should revisit that sometime. Thanks for the post!

21 Marcus August 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I think that tying a tie is one of the most important skills necessary to succeed in life and I love the articles thank you so mush for posting everyday.
In case the nomadic pack leaves by the you select the winner I would like the mockingbird olive.

22 Chris August 17, 2012 at 12:13 am

While my personal knot of choice is the Shelby, it is my personal contention that the sign of a well-tied necktie is the dimple. Make sure you have a well-sculpted knot and dimple, and others will note that you have tied your necktie with authority and pride.

23 SurvingJerry August 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I always use this knot when I have the time to tie it, as the four-in-hand is so much easier and faster.
I also feel that the four-in-hand looks sloppier and lacks refinement, which is inconsistent, IMO, to the whole concept of wearing a tie in the first place.
Those who only know the four-in-hand won’t notice the difference in your tie, but those who know their knots will be able to tell.
I also agree with Chris that the dimple and overall form of the knot makes all the difference.
Of course, if the look you want is of a hungover frat-boy on the walk of shame, by all means use the four-in-hand with pride.

24 Stan January 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

To CaptainAbrecan:
On the contrary, there is no such thing as a “full” Windsor. There’s the Windsor, and the half Windsor. Some people say “full Windsor” to distinguish it from the half Windsor, but there’s no need to. The half Windsor exists, and these illustrations demonstrate perfectly how to tie it.

25 jerry February 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

The usmc taught me to be sure there was a dimple no dimple no Marine.

26 Max Thunder January 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm

@Steven Allan

Like many (most?) young persons, I’ve never worn a tie before leaving home. In fact, I’ve never worn a tie (apart from clip-on ties for a job) until I was 27. So I don’t see why my mommy would have tied my ties. Maybe back in the day you went to a job interview for a position at a fast food joint wearing a suit, but I sure did not.

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