Tie Tips: A Visual Guide

by Brett and Kate McKay on February 20, 2014 · 27 Comments

in Accessories, Dress & Grooming, Visual Guides

Tie Tips: A Visual Guide  Proper Tie Length. Tip of tie comes right to the top of your belt buckle. Tie a little long? Use the Windsor Knot – it uses more fabric. Tie a little short? Use the four-in-hand knot – it uses less fabric.  Proper Tie Proportion. A large man should choose a slightly wider and longer tie. A petite man should look for a slightly shorter and thinner tie.  Picking the Right Tie Know for the Right Collar. Narrow spread or button collar – use four-in-hand. Medium-width spread collar – use Hald-windsor. Wide spread collar – use Windsor.  A Quick Tip on Tie Width. For an average-sized man, shoot for a tie that’s about 3-3.75” wide. For a quick comparison, hold it to a dollar bill. If the tie is close to Washington’s nose, you’re safe. If it extends past the portrait frame or is behind his head, consider passing on the necktie.

Cravatology 101 can be an in-depth course, with lessons on picking the right tie for the occasionmatching its color and print to your attire, and learning to tie different knots. Before you master those details though, make sure you know these handy tips for wearing a necktie with style. This visual guide will make them easy to remember.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grayson February 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I’ve always been told that the acceptable range for a tie is from the top of the belt buckle to the bottom of it. I may be wrong.

Also, I would hesitate to call any man petite. Slender is certainly preferable. If you must call a man “petite” then please use petit.

2 Dave February 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm

This is a great article but I must disagree with the tie proportion. Unless I’m misreading it, it is suggesting a thinner man wear a slightly shorter tie? I’m a thinner guy but I’m all torso so I need a very long tie just to be able to reach my belt and still have a tail at all.

3 JT Tuttle February 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Great post. The rule I use is the tie should match the width of the lapels on your suit.

4 Kyle February 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Petite means both thin and short I think. So that if you’re thin but tall or have a long torso, then you just get a thinner but not shorter tie. Always right down to the belt buckle. Never over.

5 Jeff February 21, 2014 at 1:42 am

The lower end of the tie should be the same width as your lapels, you can even lift it up and put it there for testing…

6 Sollertis February 21, 2014 at 5:09 am

I commend your visual guides. There’s always something useful in them in such a simple form.

7 Lee February 21, 2014 at 5:34 am

I thought petite was more of a woman’s term? When I went shopping with my wife one time, she shopped in the petite section. In the men’s clothier stores I shop at, I don’t go looking in the petite section. I’d like to think it’s more of a “slim” fit (as per Grayson) section.

As an aside, this was a great article; I don’t wear a tie that often so I do not know the ins and outs of tie requirements. Thanks for the information!

8 Anthony February 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

Grayson, I’ve heard the same: tie your tie so the tip falls between the top of the belt buckle and the bottom of the buckle. Never above and never, NEVER below.

As a short skinny guy myself, I also prefer “slim” or “slender” over “petite.” The latter is probably the most descriptive term, as it suggests both short and slender, but it’s also very much a female word. But such is life.

9 Joel February 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

I typically opt for a length from just below my navel to the top of my belt. Mostly because a tie sticking any further out of the bottom of my suit coat is unsightly and any length sticking out of the bottom of my vest is unsightly.

I also prefer some of the fancier knots. It helps with the more formal events when I don’t have a bow tie for the occasion. I can always tie a fancy knot. Though I have found a way to tie a regular-length tie into a bow tie, which is helpful at times.

10 Ken February 21, 2014 at 11:33 am

Great post. If you’re a taller man, look for an extra long tie that will fit you better. They can hard to find in certain stores.

11 Alberto February 21, 2014 at 11:47 am

Nice post, but won’t you do one for bow ties? Bow ties are cool.

12 Jacob February 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

The Ultimate reference for classic men’s style is “Clothes and the Man” by Alan Flusser. It is full of pictures and history and examples from Cary Grant to Fred Astaire to the Duke of Windsor. In my humble opinion it is a must have if you want to impress for business and romance. I believe it to be out of print but an internet search would surely land you a copy of this indespensable book.

13 Karlis February 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm

A tie’s width is suggested to be the same as your jacket’s lapel width is.

14 Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken February 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm

A very good post, in fact. There is only one thing I would disagree with: the four-in-hand is not only the easiest, but in fact the only tie knot a man needs to know. Better try to fit tie and shirt together by color, style, and degree of casualness.

15 Jay February 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I use the 4 in hand knot as it was the one I learned as a kid and the quickest and easiest to tie.

However I’ve tried with wider collars the half windsor and for whatever reason I cannot seem to get it down. I’ve tried youtube videos; a step by step guide and inevitably i mess it up. Any tips or guides that you can offer? Thanks

16 Caleb February 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Good general reference. I used to wear a tie daily while attending 7 years of college/grad school in a very conservative/generally well-dressed part of the country (I had around 50 dress shirts, 40 ties, and 5 or 6 suits). I have never heard of having the tie at the top of the buckle, unless you are wearing a suit that doesn’t fit right and you are keeping it buttoned so that the bottom of the tie doesn’t poke out or if you are breaking the rules to be “trendy” – which is the antithesis of most of the AoM community.

I have always heard to try keep it mid-buckle, but at the very least make sure the tip is 1/4″ from either the top or bottom.

Since I am tall and slightly chunky standard length/width ties are a little short so I stick with a loose 4-in-hand so that I still have enough tail to tuck/tack. It works well enough.

If I get an extra-long tie I tend to do one of the Windsors, but the 4-in-hand is so easy to adjust width by tying it tighter or looser that I use it most of the time. I rarely wear a tie to anything other than a wedding, funeral, or banquet, so usually 5-10 times a year and it is the easiest to remember since i have tied it over 1,000 times :)

17 Mikael February 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Thing about petite/petit is that french is a gendered language: petite carries explicit feminine connotations — if you were to want to say «small» in French for a man, it would be petit.

18 Emmanuel M'M February 22, 2014 at 1:39 am


No wonder some shirts just do not go well with some of my ties!

We learn something new every day

19 Mike Dalton February 22, 2014 at 9:13 am

Awesome post guys!!! Really needed something like this for a while!

20 Tim February 24, 2014 at 6:16 am

Not commenting on the styles of knots, but my father gave me a tip when I was a youngster, if you want to keep the knot up to the collar all night long, he suggested using an elastic (rubber) band on the thin part of the tie at the back, double or even triple wound, pushed up to the top.It never fails in my experience.

21 Dan February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am


I’ll try to be simple and quick with the half Windsor (it’s my go-to as it’s symetrical and sharp).

1) Start with the wide end (the front) to the left side (that’s the side I use).
2) Take the wide end, and wrap it over and then behind the small end. It should now be on the left.
3) Take the wide end and go over the forming knot, and pull to the left.
4) Take the wide end and pull it over the front of the knot.
5) Take the wide end and pull it up through the back of the forming knot.
6) Tuck the wide end between the fabric draped over the front and the forming knot. Tighten as needed, and adjust as needed.

I took this from another AOM post, found here: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/08/10/how-to-tie-a-half-windsor-knot/

22 C. Ray February 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Jay -
Another option is the Double Four-in-Hand. It’s the first knot my father taught me and is useful for making a beefier knot.


23 TR February 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

You don’t need to match the width of your tie knot to the collar. This is one of those opinions that has bounced around the echo chamber enough to turn it into a “rule.”

Just scroll down this page and look at the photos…


Most of these men (including Douglas Fairbanks, Ralph Lauren, Prince Charles, and David Beckham) are wearing wide spread or cutaway collars. The only Windsor knot is on a fictional character.

24 Dan February 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

@TR – The full Windsor definitely looks better with a spread collar. In fact, if you look at more recent pictures of Douglass Fairbanks Jr and Ralph Lauren, you’ll see that they wear Windsor knots.

25 Hugh February 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I never heard the advice about the tie width and the lapels, but I love it, although I don’t have much use for it.

I wear bow ties exclusively, and their width varies. Is there a similar rule for them?

I choose to wear ones in the mid range of width – not butterfly 1970s large, but also not the straight 1920s thin either.

I never thought to hold them up to my lapels, but I imagine they are not as wide as my lapels.

26 mcboo February 27, 2014 at 9:17 am

Hello from London. If I may a good rule for ties is you never, ever have to use a Windsor knot. Ghastly creations.

Four in hand, dont be too prissy about having a neat crease under the knot, you are done.

27 David March 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Ian Fleming: From Russia With Love (1957)

“The man had taken off his macintosh. He was wearing an old reddish-brown tweed coat with his flannel trousers, a pale yellow Viyella summer shirt, and the dark blue and maroon zig-zagged tie of the Royal Artillery. It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.” (Chapter 25)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter