How to Tie the Perfect Tie… Every Time

97 Comments

tie1.jpg
Neckties can be cool when they’re not lopsided. ((c) fresh pesh)

His name was the “Egyptian magician.”

Well, that was his nickname, anyway. He lived down the hall from me my sophomore year of high school and delighted in laughing at my mangled attempts at wearing neckties.

I didn’t realize he was laughing at my ties until he decided to offer me one of his secrets. “Step inside,” he offered and waved a hand towards the mirror in his closet.

I never had a name for the solid gold me gave me–a method for tying the perfect tie every time–until two days ago. Here I am in humid North Carolina for a once-a-decade family reunion, and the dress code is–as luck would have it–strict southern gentleman: suit and tie after 6pm. “Nice Windsor knot,” my dad remarked two nights ago, and, thrilled to finally have a name for this technique, I now pass on what I learned 15 years ago.

Ladies, I encourage you to pay attention.

If you pass this on to any man who hasn’t found it–whether boyfriend, father, son, or stranger–they will love you forever.

So without further ado, I offer the little-known Windsor knot or, in homage to my friend whose name I cannot remember, “The Egyptian magician knot.” Enjoy…

###

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-A reminder not to take the 4HWW too literally. “The 4-Daughter Workweek” by John Jantsch.

Posted on: August 15, 2007.

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97 comments on “How to Tie the Perfect Tie… Every Time

  1. That video made me smile! It reminded me of the Eton Boys and their absolutely perfect Windsor Knots. After all could you imagine the trouble they would get in if they ever got it wrong…

    Would you mind if Girly Geekdom popped you’re video up for the readers. I think it would be an amusing and fun video to show how to smarten up your geek guy collegues ;)

    Keep up the good work and it’s nice to see the video’s. It brings a bit more of you to you’re blog!

    Like

  2. I started my first desk job when I was 17 (shakes head at stupidity…) and dad taught me the Windsor knot then. It is still the best knot and super easy once you practice it a few times.

    Like

  3. In Europe this tying method is well known as Windsor or Double Windsor Knot. But your explanation is really good.
    Originally the method was developed in the United States.
    One of the most famous “user” was Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor and so – misleadingly – this knot got the name Windsor Knot.
    Prince Edward became really famous as the King of the United Kingdom who abdicted in 1936 to marry the American commoner Wallis Simpson.
    Anyway – I love the great stories behind small things.

    Like

  4. ‘the little known windsor knot’.. Are you kidding me?
    If looking for further sartorial refinement, you would make a splash by losing those square American collars and get some Italian widespread love. And learn how to tie a ‘pratt knot’, it’s not necessarily a good thing you dad recognized your windsor right away ;-)

    Like

  5. I’ve been having to tie ties since sixth grade through college (football, frat) so I’ve become pretty experienced.

    Here’s the thing about the windsor (and I think you are referring to the half windsor but I can’t see the vid because I’m at work): it takes a lot more fabric than the four in hand, but it looks a LOT nicer.

    Since I’m pretty tall (6’7″), I can’t tie a good half windsor unless I’ve bought a tall tie…

    For other cool knots to hang around your neck, look at “The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_85_Ways_to_Tie_a_Tie

    Like

  6. Poll: Would you give up the last 5 years of life for $5,000,000 now?

    Sad thing is that a lot of people already have for a lot less…..

    Bugger! That would include me :o(

    Like

  7. Have fun in NC today – I think we’ll be around 100 F for the next two days. Definitely not suit whether.

    Thanks for showing folks the beauty and simplicity of the Windsor. My dad taught me how when I was in middle school and now it’s a mainstay of complements at work. I’ve passed on the knowledge to a few high schoolers who needed the help.

    Also, depending on how you tie it, and the type and thickness of the tie, a dimple is also a nice touch

    -J

    Like

  8. I lived down the hall from my parents in high school and the most valuable thing I took away from high school was my Economics class.

    ###

    Hi Don!

    I was kidding about this being my most valuable takeaway from high school. They were actually a year abroad, the independent problem-solving skills that teaches, and prioritization — I had classes from 8am to 6pm on most days and classes from Monday to Saturday, so lack of time management was fatal. I also lived down the hall from my parents for all of elementary school and part of high school until a classmate was stabbed. That was my cue to go to a different school.

    Economics is cool, though. I really recommend “The Beginner’s Guide to the World Economy” by Eppings.

    Cheers,

    Tim

    Like

  9. Nice! I have to give it a try. I read your posts on my Google Reader. Wondering why the embedded YouTube video didn’t show up on my feed. Perhaps enable it on your feed settings? I usually add a link to the video as well as embed the video on my blog. That way, if a feed reader doesn’t recognize the codes folks can click on the link.

    Like

  10. Hi Tim,

    I’m a girl and very happy that I don’t have to do it.
    So I just enjoyed your nice brown skin :-)
    There seems to be something to the book I want to say.

    Kindest regards
    Gabriele

    Like

  11. What a nice video. This is my favorite knot as well. I often had trouble getting the length just right but I noticed there is a diagonal seam close to the collar on the wide end of most ties and if you line that seam up against the tail end it will generally give you the proper length. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Windsor is a pretty huge knot and it may be more or less appropriate depending on your build, type of collar, etc.

    Like

  12. I’ve been using the “Full” Windsor for many years with great success. Contrary to a previous comment, the half-windsor is not symmetrical … in fact, it’s probably the knot most Gents have used for years, and doesn’t look impressive in the least. The full Windsor rules and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Enjoy!

    Like

  13. Ah, yes, the storied Windsor knot! I, too, started wearing ties in 6th grade (not very well done in the beginning), and in 7th grade my prep school headmaster pulled me into his office, said “I can’t stand it anymore – I’m going to show how to tie a proper knot!” and proceeded to show me 4 ways to do so. His final remarks were: “When in doubt, refer to the half-Windsor”, which is what I’ve used ever since.
    By the way, I just finished your book this morning, and it’s a great read. Good job.

    Like

  14. Sorry, but “tie” means “crappy office job” to me.

    I have two things against ties: They are stupid (neither functional nor beautiful) and they are a safety hazard.

    A tie is a perfect icon for “We do it that way because it’s the way we’ve always done it.”

    At my important business meetings, I wear jeans and a t-shirt, (or whatever else makes me feel free and comfortable) thank you.

    Like

  15. So I don’t want to seem creepy by posting a bunch of comments but…

    Reuters Editor’s Choice pictures for the past 24 hours has a photo call for the Tango Championship in BA… looks like the festivities are starting up

    Like

  16. I was just in a wedding party and was stared at like I had three heads when I tied my tie like this. It came with several offers to “show me” how to tie a tie. My favourite part of this knot is the fact that you can get a great cleft in the top, which to me is the hallmark of a well-tied tie.

    It’s funny. I work in an office where I would be soundly ridiculed for wearing a tie. Secretly, I love wearing a suit now and then because everyone (strangers and friends alike) treats me as if I’m royalty. It’s a very odd thing, but there’s something to be said for being well-dressed.

    ###

    Hi Ryan,

    The key part of this knot is the last part, the ability to shape the tie. It is possible to make it very narrow at the bottom and give it a nice taper. No one has ever noticed the knot was any different from the “normal” knot, but I’ve had compliments on the shape and symmetry. I’m a bit OCD with symmetry.

    Like you, I actually enjoy wearing a suit on occasion, perhaps due to my tango experiences. It’s fun to really dapper it out once in a while. Suits also remove the nuisance of making things match.

    Rock on,

    Tim

    Like

  17. After spending roughly 13140 hours in a suit and tie on my LDS mission, I can vouch for this technique.

    Although, since the mission I’ve opted for the “Half-Windsor” which looks more stylish, less conservative and doesn’t make you look like you’ve got a stick up your arse.

    shawnpetriw: A tie with a tailored shirt provides the ultimate function: credibility and social status.

    Like

  18. After spending roughly 13140 hours in a suit and tie on my LDS mission, I can vouch for this technique.

    Although, since the mission I’ve opted for the “Half-Windsor” which looks more stylish, less conservative and doesn’t make you look like you’ve got a stick up your arse.

    shawnpetriw: A tie with a tailored shirt provides the ultimate function: credibility and social status.

    Like

  19. Interesting poll questions. Why did you ask and what are your thoughts on people answering in different ways?

    BTW, my answers were 100K and NO!

    ###

    Hi Ven,

    Just some experimental questions exploring the concept of “positional economics” — I’ll explain more in future posts ;) Good answers, BTW!

    Tim

    Like

  20. For people of any height — there’s a way to gauge the length of your tie. First, after putting the tie around your neck, just hold the untied tie at your collar so the face (the fat part) is the length you hope it will be when finished.

    Then lower it about 1 foot, which gives you enough cloth to tie your knot.

    Now the real trick — notice where your thumb lands when you pull the tie down (e.g. mine lands right at my sternum). Now, when tying your tie, you wrap it, adjust it, pull it down until you touch your chest in the right place, and tie the tie. Done.

    ——-

    For TALL PEOPLE

    Get a paperclip. After tying your tie, slip the long part of the paperclip into the seam on the back of the fatter leg of the tie, and then slip the entire shorter part into the shorter clip. Bend the clip slightly to “lock” it and your tie will not do that annoying “split” thing. Doing this makes all ties fit you.

    If you want to be fancy — go to a paper goods store and buy those brass-colored paperclips (often shaped in a small triangle) … that way if your tie whips around, it STILL looks cool.

    I’m 6’5″

    Like

  21. I like the motel 8 background… hahahaaa

    Tim Ferriss, “Hmmm, well today I can post a video about how to tie a tie… THAT’S IT!”

    Actually I enjoyed it and now I know how to tie a tie.

    Seriously… thank you.

    Cheers,

    Chris Brisson

    Like

  22. Hey Tim,

    great post.. I’ve been doing the full windsor since I was in grade 5 (10 years old) because I went to a private school that required them as part of the uniform… not a lot of fun. Then I’ve had desk jobs pretty much since then.. even less fun. I’m making some changes based on your book though..

    I now work at Australia Zoo, nobody wears ties there.. which is great.

    - paul

    Like

  23. Hey Tim, nice video, but I have to disagree with the notion that the Windsor (or half-windsor, as some people say ‘windsor’ when they mean double-windsor), I think the Pratt knot has got them all beat for aesthetic purposes, AND it gives you that nice dimple in the knot; I’ve got an excellent article on how to tie the 4 main knots, including the Pratt, Windsor, Double-Windsor, and Four-in-Hand on my site:

    http://wickedhowtos.com/index.php/2007/03/09/how-to-tie-a-tie-instructions-with-diagrams-and-videos-for-the-four-main-tie-knots-windsor-half-windsor-four-in-hand-and-pratt-tie-knots/

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    Like

  24. @ Donovan

    “shawnpetriw: A tie with a tailored shirt provides the ultimate function: credibility and social status.”

    “Social Status” is not a currency I’m looking for. I’m looking for Money, Time and Mobility. Social status tends to get in the way and mess up one’s thinking.

    As for “credibility,” I find refusing the “standard business uniform” is a great way for me to eliminate clients I don’t want to work with. Frankly, I’m not interested in working for or working with clients that weigh tailoring over results. I don’t want to work with people who are slow to get unstuck, and have narrow hang-ups of what is the “proper way to conduct business.”

    For example, Tim fires 95% of his clients. That’s just not “proper.” But it’s effective.

    So, jeans and a t-shirt (or off the shelf oxford) is one of my 20/80 filters.

    Tim: This blog is about the 4-hour workweek, right? Not how-to-get-up-and-work-for-the-man-80-hours-a-week-with-a-nice-looking-tie, right?

    Look at a majority of the comments above – barely a mention of 4HWW concepts or approaches/scenarios to applying them.

    I’d like to see more 4HWW stuff; let lifehacker do the lifehacks like how to tie a tie. To me, 4HWW is about unconventional approaches to work (LESS of it) and life (MORE of it), not tips on how to do the conventional, expected things better.

    ###

    Hi Shawn,

    Valid points all around, so let me explain my thinking. I view “lifestyle design,” the unifying theme in 4HWW, as including “lifehacks”, “hacks” being a creative way of solving a problem.

    I don’t wear a tie to work for the man nor for clients, but I’m happy to wear it at a social function where I can meet cool people who are following a certain dress code. I also enjoy wearing ties and suits on occasion, and this has nothing to do with an office. When I was in Costa Rica at one of the social parties there, the expectation was that you would understand the dress code of blue blazer, tie, etc. I met some incredible people, and knowing how to artfully tie a tie was part of the all-important first impression.

    There will be plenty of 4HWW material and related posts, but I view this blog as about “lifestyle experiments” and “lifestyle design,” and part of the fun for me is having the flexibility to share what I think might help a decent number of people. Sorry if it seems off topic, but I’m having fun with it, and the blog has to be fun for me to keep writing it.

    Thanks for the feedback and participating,

    Tim

    Like

  25. Pingback: TimvanderWeide
  26. For shawnpetriw:

    Definitely see your point of view, as I type here in a clients office with shorts and flip flops. But here comes the rebuttal =)

    I’m not saying that you MUST wear a tie or suit to a business activity. I am saying that you must be put together in a great way. That portrays your image to any client whether they admit it or not. Why not put your best foot forward before you open your mouth – it only adds to your voice and believability.

    “Social status tends to get in the way and mess up one’s thinking.”

    That all depends on how you view your own social status – it’s there, and knowing how to calibrate yourself is essential, especially if your mobile. Hence, cultures.

    “I don’t want to work with people who are slow to get unstuck, and have narrow hang-ups of what is the “proper way to conduct business.”

    I think qualifying your clients in that way is very destructive – for you. All things even, would they pick a guy thats attends to the small details of his image calibrating themselves to their client or the guy who rocks the Wranglers and his 63rd Annual Starbucks 2-mile Charity Run t-shirt to their first lunch appointment?

    I make 80% of my money without clients, although when I’m meeting with one I show them respect by taking time out of my day to looking good for them.

    I have no idea how you implement the 4HWW, and I guess it heavily depends on your industry.

    Tim, next time you’re talking to Matt Lauer could you wear that wife-beater you practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in? Rufus.

    Like

  27. Till today I hadn’t been able to tie my own tie. Specially sad being an Eagle Scout. Always had clip-ons for brunch when I was a kid. Wore velcro shoes in those days too. I learned to tie my shoes quite a few years ago. It was due time to figure out the tie…

    So I set the laptop on the counter and followed along once. Kinda worked… Tied it a second time, much better. Then I got ambitious and tied it with my eyes closed. Success! After all these years. Corporate job here I come!

    Thanks Tim :)

    Like

  28. shawnpetriw writes: ‘Sorry, but “tieâ€? means “crappy office jobâ€? to me.’

    Too bad for Andre 3000, then. Seriously, sorry to hear of your impoverished perspective on clothing. When you wear a t-shirt and jeans to work as a filter for potential clients, they have become your “standard business uniform”. You’ve just traded one form of sartorial snobbery for another.

    Lots of people wear a tie unthinkingly, and it becomes a dull unifom. But the same is true of a t-shirt and jeans.

    Like

  29. Hey wait! I asked my husband your survey questions and he understood the second question differently… he took it to mean the final five years (as in, shorten your life by 5 years) for money now. I took it to mean the PREVIOUS five years (as in what has happened to you and your memories of it). Two very different questions — although I’m not sure my answer would change.

    Like

  30. Tim,
    Great Post. Where in NC are you. IF you are still here and anywhere near the Raleigh Durham area I would love to buy you a beer.

    Drew

    Like

  31. I’m in the initial stages of reading Tim’s book and the situation I am having is this: I am a Mercedes-Benz salesman, and many of the ideas he has in here don’t compute to me, as to how to make adjustments in my life. I am 100% commision, and do not have any residual income. I need a little help in getting started with some of the concepts he proposes….is there anyone out there that is in this type of sales postion…..my epihany of sorts happened a few nights ago, but it has been in the making for the last 25-30 years. Ironically, this is how long I have been selling metal to people that hate me, lie to me, think I’m a necessary evil, that think all I do is lie to them, cheat them, think that I am a piece of shit, have no reason to be in the same room with them….etc. Yes, I feel like killing someone at least once a day. Whether it is a co-worker, or one of the “elite” clients I have the privledge to serve…….I need help, am willing to do anything to imporve. Am in a position to lose everything/nothing……I’m sick and tired and I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE, quick before they make a tele-movie of the carnage in the making…..you can be the first…..
    Thanks,
    Ernie

    Like

  32. Thank god people in the music biz do not have to wear ties…. Oh snap.. my cousin is getting married this weekend. thanks buddy.. Keep Rockin!!! Get Psyched for that show.. details coming soon. I am now going to go eat some pumpkin seeds and Goji Berries from Nepal.. sending my best from Tribeca, NYC.

    Like

  33. Thanks for the video. I’m experiencing “Tie Karma” – I was a programmer for 20 years and recently (Jan!) quit my job and switched careers (to personal productivity consulting). Dressing like a slob has caught up with me, and I now have to (in fact *enjoy*) dressing up for business.

    That said, I still find I have to try a few times with most of my ties before I get the length perfect. This is because I have a variety of fabrics and lengths, and each one requires a different starting point.

    However, I really liked your tip about getting it square. I like my tie to look perfect, my pant creases to be razor-sharp, etc.

    Like

  34. “Assuming prices remained the same, would you rather… Make $50,000 in a world where everyone makes $25,000 / Make $100,000 in a world where everyone makes $200,000″

    What kind of question is that? If everyone makes $200,000, prices wouldn’t be the same.

    Unless prices were artificially controlled. Does the latter choice imply we’d all be living in a communist state? It’s kind of a misleading way to ask the question. (As expected, most people wouldn’t.)

    Like

  35. I always thought that was the double Windsor knot…

    My high school required both guys and gals to wear ties, so I’m actually pretty swell at it!

    Like

  36. Nice. I’m a fan of the double windsor knot, as it creates balance because both corners are even. It’s also easier to get the fashionable fold in the tie with the double windsor.

    Like

  37. Very good. I’m tired of the slob look myself and I think a lot of guys are starting to agree and starting to wear suits ans ties again.

    Like

  38. Tim, thank you so much for this post.

    I’m a single mom and my son attends a private school that requires wearing ties on certain days. He’s outgrown clip ties and I’ve never found anyone who could sit down and show me, let alone teach him, how to tie a correct knot.

    I let him watch your little video and he had it down perfectly after the second try. He’s so excited to show off his new little “life talent” he’s just busting with pride. Thank you from him and another thank you from me!

    -Michele

    Like

  39. Another reason not to wear a tie – bacteria and other nasty stuff:

    “LONDON — British hospitals are banning neckties, long sleeves and jewellery in an effort to stop the spread of deadly hospital-born infections, new rules published Monday stipulate.

    Hospital dress codes typically urge doctors to look professional, which, for male practitioners, has usually meant wearing a tie. But as concern over hospital-born infections has intensified, doctors are taking a closer look at their clothing.

    “Ties are rarely laundered but worn daily,� the Department of Health said in a statement. “They perform no beneficial function in patient care and have been shown to be colonized by pathogens.�

    The new regulations would mean an end to doctors’ traditional white coats, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said. Fake nails, jewellery and watches, which the department warned could harbour germs, are also out.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070917.wdocsdress0917/BNStory/Science/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20070917.wdocsdress0917

    Like

  40. Timmy!

    I loved the tie…I have been struggling with this impossible knot forever, but no longer.

    Thanks Tim for putting that out there.

    Tim
    Also liked the pen thing too.

    Like

  41. Thanks so much for this! I’ve been trying to figure it out for ages, and none of the other online tutorials show it well enough. I went to a few sites that had diagrams, but they didn’t explain it well enough. I needed this knot for some school events, and it’s really going to be great! Thanks again!

    Like

  42. Just want to send a quick thank you. I’ve seen countless videos, tutorials, etc… and have been trying to get the Windsor right for years. Thanks to you, I can finally tie a perfect Windsor every time. God Bless.

    Like

  43. I like the way you explained how to tie the tie.. Very helpful. I have been trying to figure out how to do this method for some time.

    Like

  44. But how do I get the dimples??? And is one dimple or two in fashion? I like the double dimples but will settle for learning how to get one perfect one. Thank you!

    Like

    • sorry, dude, but that’s not 2 seconds, because at least with my apparently outdated dryer, the t-shirts do not come out laying perfectly flat on a table…. by the time you have it spread out perfectly flat, most other techniques are moving on to the 2nd or third shirt, before you ever get to your 2 second ‘trick’…..

      Like

  45. So I doubt you see posts this far back, but my dad he couldn’t even describe the look on my face when I saw this video for the first time. It is amazing how something so simple works every time. As someone has to put on a tie about every other day (unfortunately), this might be the most useful tip I will receive this year.

    Like

  46. When i was kid i learnt once how to tie a good tie and still i remember those moves of my fingers and still im very good with doing this. and most of the time my friends asks me to make a perfect tie for them. Its just work of fingers and lips.

    Like

  47. Only comment I would like to add is that a dimple in the middle of the tie is the finishing touch- right where the main part of the tie comes through the knot, it should form a sort of channel in the center.

    For a shorter tie, simply start the skinny, back end higher up on your shirt. If it gets too short to tuck into the tie when the knot is done, simply tuck it into your shirt.

    Like