At some point in our lives, we will have to dress nicely whether it is for a job, school, or special occasions like weddings. We typically wear a full suit, put on some dress shoes, and yes, even putting on a tie. It may not feel like the most comfortable thing, but it sure helps make you look presentable and professional though.
We may have been forced to put on professional clothing for high school graduations or a relative’s wedding whom you barely know. We were able to get away with dressing up halfheartedly. However, when it came to interviews for a professional school or an important job, suddenly…things started to shift.
We wonder if we have the best clothes on and have they been tailored correctly? Do the shoes and belt match in color? Is the haircut neat and tidy? Is that knot on our necktie tied correctly and straight? Wait a minute…
Then it kind of hits you. The knot is actually NOT straight. In fact, it is quite crooked. So you keep squeezing the knot to try to mold it into the nice perfect triangle shape for that interview but it just does not seem to cooperate with you. Perhaps it is the knot itself? In fact, it IS the knot.
The Best (and Safest) Knot for a Necktie
When I tied my first necktie, I used the “simple knot” which, as it sounds, is really simple. Although it is easy, the knot tends to always be crooked. In addition, the tie was also too long for me. Over the years, I experimented with different types of knots and I found the “Windsor knot” to be one of the most balanced and safest one of the different variations. There is the half, double (full), or triple Windsor versions of it. Here is a video of how to tie those knots:
Since I am a fairly short person and the tongue of the necktie needs to be at about the belt level (a pretty good standard for a tie), I need to tie the double Windsor knot. A good rule of thumb would be for shorter folks, the triple Windsor may be more suitable whereas for the taller folks, the half Windsor may be more appropriate. This also depends on the total length of the necktie. Some brands are just quite short overall.
Also, if you are not too familiar with the anatomy/parts of a tie, here is a page that goes into detail of it all.
Ideal Goals When Wearing a Necktie
When you need to wear a necktie, here are some things you want to keep in mind.
- You want an even/symmetrical knot (especially for professional/formal meetings)
- The length of the tongue (front main strip of necktie) should be at about the belt level, not too above or below it
- In terms of color, go for the neutral colors (black, gray, blue)
- In terms of pattern, go for solid color or light stripes
- Avoid novelty ties when possible (the ones with VERY fancy designs/pictures on it)
- Optional: You can use a tie clip to keep the tie from shifting around if you happen to be wearing a suit jacket or when moving around a lot.
If you don’t have any neckties, you can always purchase some here.
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Caring for Necktie When Not in Use
When you are done for the day, you won’t be needing your tie anymore. But at the same time, you probably do not want to completely undo the knot. You already spent like half an hour or so trying to create the knot as well as finding the right length. The good news is…there is a method to keep your necktie like that still WITHOUT having to undo the whole thing. It is actually quite similar to the concept of zipper ties.
With zipper ties, you never have to tie the knot since it is already pre-made. To put it on, you hold the strap where the collar is in one hand and then with the other, while holding onto the knot, you pull down. The necktie becomes unzipped and big enough for your head to fit through. Put the tie on, and pull on the tail (the back/smaller part of necktie) to fasten the knot. Pretty convenient. Here is a video of it:
Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned neckties. It just feels more official, a lot like riding a bike without the training wheels.
So, taking that zipper tie concept and applying it with regular ties, (and assuming you have your tie on still), hold down on the knot and pull down. The collar becomes large enough to take off the necktie and you are done. The next time you need to put on the tie? Same thing like the zipper tie concept. You put on the tie and pull on the tail (minor/smaller part of tie) while pushing the knot up until the collar fits around your neck. Adjust it a little and done.
Additional Tips for Necktie Care
When you take off the necktie, you might not want to leave it in that “large looped” state. What happens is that whichever spot of the necktie is fed into the knot, it will leave wrinkles. It is something that can’t be avoided. BUT, you CAN control where the wrinkles form! It would be better if they formed in the section that could be hidden underneath the collar of your shirt as opposed to the part that hangs from your neck. That way, you will still have a nice, fresh looking tie every time (minus the part under the shirt collar)
So what do you do to form wrinkles in that location? When you take off the necktie, pull on the tail of the necktie until you have a loop that is smaller than your neck. I usually keep my loop about the size of a tennis ball. Then hang it somewhere until further use. That’s it! The section of the tie that is stuck in the knot is the part that becomes wrinkled.
Now let’s say you forget to do this entire step. If those wrinkles happen to appear on a “visible to others” section of the necktie, you can always iron or steam that section until the wrinkles disappear. It might not disappear all the way, but it is still better than nothing.
- For silk and polyester ties – Use cool iron settings
- For wool ties – Use medium-hot settings
- For cotton and linen ties – Use hot settings
Having to wear a necktie for the first time is not very convenient. Trying to find the best knot, keeping it as straight as possible, finding the right length…it takes A LOT of work and A LOT of patience. Therefore, after creating the best knot and finding the right length for your necktie, why take it apart? Just follow the steps above for taking care of a necktie when not in use and save that until the next time you use it. You don’t quite need a zipper tie since you have essentially created your own. Hope this helps and saves you time!
Did you enjoy this life hack for tying more balanced knots for neckties and also how to care for them when not in use? Please leave a comment below!