Seeing necktie knots laid out side-by-side is the fastest way to grasp how they differ from one another. In order to play fair, we tied each knot using neckties of the same material, thickness and width (3 ½ inches). We also made sure to photograph them to scale. This way you can appreciate the unique characteristics of each knot and discern the differences between them.
Of the knots we tied, the smallest is the Simple knot, sometimes known as the Oriental. If there is a way to tie a necktie smaller we haven’t found it. The monstrous Balthus knot is the largest of the knots we tied but in theory you could make a knot even larger if you had a long enough necktie. Take note of the overall shape of each knot. The Windsor is almost a perfect triangle. The Four-in-Hand is much more narrow. The Prince Albert has a second fold that peeks out at the bottom. Some knots, like the Kelvin and Four-in-Hand lean noticeably to one side. The Trinity delivers a rounded silhouette while the Van Wijk is cylindrical and the longest of the knots.
Half Windsor Knot : The Half Windsor knot is an extremely versatile knot. Unlike what the name suggests, the Half Windsor knot is actually closer to three-quarters the size of the Windsor knot. The Half Windsor is medium in size, nearly symmetrical and, when tied correctly, it produces a deep and substantial dimple. Best used with neckties of a medium to light thickness.
Four-In-Hand Knot : Named after a 19th Century Gentleman’s Club of the same name, the Four-in-Hand is the reigning champion of necktie knots. Its popularity stems from its simplicity and versatility. It is easy to tie, slender, tapered, mildly asymmetrical and self-releasing. If you only learn one knot, make it the Four-in-Hand.
Windsor Knot : Although the Duke of Windsor never specifically used the Windsor knot, he did favor a wide triangular knot. In actuality, the Duke achieved his trendsetting look by tying a Four-in-Hand with specially made wide and extra thick ties. The Windsor knot was invented by the public as a way to imitate the Duke’s knot style. There are several derivatives of the Windsor that are all referred to by the same name. The Windsor delivers a symmetrical and solid triangular knot that works best with a spread collar. This knot is also mistakenly referred to as the “Double Windsor” knot.
Simple Knot : Also known as the Oriental, Kent knot and Petit Noeud, the Simple Knot contains the fewest possible steps and is very easy to learn. Despite its simplicity, this knot is rarely worn in the West but maintains popularity in China. This may be because it is not self-releasing, making it more difficult to untie. The Simple knot is compact with an asymmetry causing it to lean toward the active end. This knot works well with thick neckties or for tall guys who need a little extra length. Live the simple life.
Kelvin Knot : The Kelvin necktie knot is named after Lord Kelvin (William Thomson, 1824-1907) a mathematical physicist who contributed to the theory of knots in relation to atomic structure. The Kelvin is an extension of the Simple knot. Like the Simple knot, the Kelvin starts with the tie lying inside out resulting in an inverted tail. This knot produces a lithe and tidy knot similar in size to the Four-in-Hand but slightly fuller and more angular.
Prince Albert Knot : The Prince Albert knot is a variation on the Victoria knot. There is no evidence to suggest that the Prince Albert was actually worn by its namesake, Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria. In the Prince Albert knot the active end is passed through both the first and second turnings. The first turning should peek out at the bottom of the knot. This slightly asymmetrical knot has a little more bulk than the Four-in-Hand but should be pulled tight to give it a slender & polished look.
Pratt Knot : Jerry Pratt, the inventor of the Pratt Knot, worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For 30 years, Mr. Pratt had tied his necktie in his distinct fashion before anchorman Don Shelby “discovered” and publicized it on local television in 1989. When articles about the “Shelby Knot” (as it was called then) appeared in the New York Times and the New York Daily Telegraph, the knot’s popularity shot up dramatically. The Pratt knot is versatile, elegant and of a medium size, between the Four-in-Hand Knot and the Half Windsor Knot.
Eldredge Knot : The Eldridge is a unorthodox, complex & eye-catching necktie knot that involves 15 separate steps. It was invented by Jeffrey Eldredge in 2007 and achieved internet fame in 2008. As opposed to the vast majority of tie knots, the Eldredge knot is produced by using the small end as the active end. When completed, the remaining small end is hidden behind the shirt collar. The knot is large (larger than the Windsor) and creates a tapered fishtail braid-like effect. Not for the faint of heart, this knot must be worn with caution.
Van Wijk Knot : The incredibly tall and cylindrical Van Wijk knot was invented by artist Lisa van Wijk in an attempt to create the tallest wearable knot possible. The Van Wijk is an augmentation of the Prince Albert, adding a third turning of the active end. When tied correctly, this long and slender knot creates a striking and unmistakable helical effect.
Trinity Knot : The Trinity knot, much like the Eldredge knot, is a relatively recent innovation. The finished knot shares a resemblance with the Celtic Triquetra knot. Tied using the small end as the active end, this knot is initially tied loosely and pulled tight at the very end. The Trinity produces a rounded shape that is slightly asymmetrical, slightly larger than the Windsor knot and is visually striking. All who gaze upon the trinity knot will worship her.
Murrell Knot : Invented by Brent Murrell in 1995, the Murrell is an inversion of a classic Windsor knot. In its completed form, the tail end lays in front of the large end creating a playful layered look. The knot produced by the Murrell is triangular, small, surprisingly wide. Turn convention on its head with this unique and flippant knot.
Balthus Knot : The Balthus knot was invented circa 1930 by Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski), a controversial Polish-French modern artist. The Balthus knot is as large as necktie knots come (significantly bigger than the Windsor). When executed properly, the resulting knot is a broad and conical in shape. Because of the sheer number of times the wide end is wrapped around the small end, the finished tie will be very short when completed. Get controversial with this artsy knot.
Bow Tie : The bow tie is a descendant of the knotted cravat. It was born from the need for neckwear that was easier to wear than the cravat and that would last throughout a more active day. By the end of the 19th century, the butterfly and batwing bow tie were commonplace. Black bow ties were worn with dinner jackets and white bow ties with evening tails. Today bow ties are mainly worn on formal occasions, however, in the past decade bow ties for everyday wear have seen a rise in popularity. A bow tie is perfect for any man who likes to stand out among his peers.