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A Gentleman’s Guide to Ties, Collars and Tie Knots

Ovadia & Sons

It used to be you could get by with just a four-in-hand and a smile... but times have changed. The collars are more complex, the ties are stuck between mod-thin and banker-thick, and suddenly your knot’s either busting the seams or lost in a chasm of empty fabric.

So we figured we’d boil things down to the bare essentials. After the jump, we’ll match the four most common types of collar with the ties and knots that suit them best, and along the way, show you where to pick up some of the better specimens.

Gitman Brothers

The Button-Down Collar

Prime Example: Gitman VintageThe Knot: Stick with the four-in-hand here. You want the knot to fit squarely between the two halves of the collar—and in this case, that doesn’t leave you much room to get fancy. The old around-the-tree-and-into-the-hole will do you just fine.Ideal Tie: A thin tie for a thin knot, which means nothing too much wider than three inches. The informal vibe also does well with more down-to-earth fabrics like wool or brushed cotton.

Point Collar

The Point Collar

Prime Example: Trust us, you don’t need one.The Knot: The short answer is to use the same knots you’d use in a button-down. But if you’re even casually keeping up with trends, you’ll want to give this sucker away and buy something with a wider spread. Unless, of course, you’re running for office.Ideal Tie: See above.

Spread Collarvia A Neapolitan Dream

The Spread Collar

Prime Example: Sid Mashburn or, for the blowout, Charvet.The Knot: This is where you get creative. With a thick tie, you can sometimes get away with a four-in-hand here, but this is the place to experiment. You’ve got more space to fill, so keep stepping up the size of your knot until you’ve filled it. We’ll usually start with a half-Windsor, then move up to a Pratt knot or even a full Windsor if the knot looks lonely.Ideal Tie: This is the place for wider ties, and you’ll get extra rewards for materials that really hold a dimple, like shantung or seven-fold silk.

Cutaway Collarvia Sart Inc

The Cutaway Collar

Prime Example: Ovadia & Sons, Boggi.The Knot: Unlike the spread collar, you’ll never cover up the under-collar region with one of these, so you aren’t going for size as much as rakish elegance. Your toolkit, on the other hand, is pretty much the same as the spread: a half-Windsor or anything fancier. Just make sure you tie it as cleanly as you can; any twists or lumps in the knot will have nowhere to hide.Ideal Tie: Just pick out the most handsome thing on your tie rack—which, in our experience, is usually made of cashmere.

If it’s not one of those four... maybe just go with a scarf.