The Men's Room

Expert Advice: Matching The Best Tie Knot To Any Collar

Even if you don’t have to wear a tie to work you better get one pressed and ready because, guys, ’tis the season for ties! With Thanksgiving, holidays and holiday parties starting to fill up every free weekend on your calendar, this is the time of year to look sharp!

What many men don’t realize is that ties and shirts are not a one-style fits all pairing. That’s right, depending on your shirt collar there are certain ties to best suit the look, not just any way you can tie it. To help with this I’ve called on my colleague Stephen Maser of to share some tips:

When Craig The Barber® asked me to write an article on matching the proper knot to the proper collar I thought ‘what a great idea’, especially since I see mismatched combinations regularly.  To put things simply, narrow knots go with narrow collars.  Let’s review the four most popular knots, starting from the widest to the narrowest.

  1. Windsor:  This symmetrical knot is big and formal and needs a wider collar.  To accommodate this knot you should also avoid button down collars.
  2. Half Windsor:  Also symmetrical, this knot is what the name suggests, a smaller, simpler version of the Windsor; it is considered a medium sized knot.
  3. Pratt: Similar to the Half Windsor in size, the Pratt is also symmetrical.  Depending on how tight you tie the Pratt, you may find it slightly narrower than the Half Windsor and you will probably be able to combine a button down collar with this knot.
  4. Four-in-Hand: The narrowest and most informal of these four knots, it is slightly asymmetrical.  This knot can get lost in a wide collar very easily and looks obviously wrong compared to a wide knot in a narrower collar.

Don’t forget; even if you can’t tie all of these knots, you can adjust the width of the knot depending on how tight or loose you tie them.  It can take some practice but a knot like the Four-in-Hand can vary in width by about an inch.

At this point you might be wondering what makes a narrow or wide collar, what collars there are available and which specific knots go with them.  Let’s take a look at what is available to men.

First, here is the anatomy of a typical collar on a man’s shirt.

Here are the typical widths of collars and the different knots that will work with them.

  • S1 – Narrow Spread (Four-in-Hand)
  • S2 – Medium Spread (Four-in-Hand, Pratt)
  • S3 – Modified Spread (Pratt, Half-Windsor)
  • S4 – Wide Spread (Pratt, Half-Windsor, Windsor)
  • S5 – Extra Wide Spread (Half-Windsor, Windsor)



Straight, Tab and Pinned collars will usually fall in the S1 to S3 category, Button-down can range all the way to S4 and Spread Collar styles will usually be in the S4 to S5 categories.  Remember that the spread of each collar will depend on the manufacturer so pairing knots to collars is more an art than a science.  And as mentioned earlier each style of knot can change in width depending on how loose or tight you tie them.

Aside from the collar of your shirt you should also keep in mind the width of your jacket lapel.  Lapels have gotten slightly narrower so you should be able to tie all these different knots given changes in fashion trends.  If you are unsure how to tie a tie, or only have one knot memorized you can check out “How To’s” section, there are quite a few right here on this site.

When men are nuanced in their fashion choices, people will know you’re dressed better than every other guy in the room; they just might not know why.  This is the difference between looking professional to going to the next level and having an “X” factor in style.  It’s all in the details.

*Content provided by Stephen Maser, Editor-in-Chief of

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