Ask any man when he learnt to knot a tie and the answer will most likely be: at school. And if you probe further, he will also tell you that he never really updated that knowledge and that he knows just one way to tie the knot.
“Men in Delhi prefer the Windsor Knot without knowing whether it suits their torso length or not,” says Jyoti Narula, the Delhi-based managing director of Genesis Colors (the company has a licensing agreement with Tie Rack Retail Group Ltd for India). “It’s a rare man who knows how to style his tie knot to suit an occasion.”
Final touch: (clockwise from top) The Windsor Knot, the Four-in-Hand Knot and the Half Windsor Knot.
Owais Shaikh, the Mumbai-based made to measure specialist at Ermenegildo Zegna, says Mumbai’s old school businessmen and clients from the financial sector prefer wider ties, which they proceed to knot in a “perfect samosa” fashion. “Most men I have seen are familiar with the Four-in-Hand Knot. We’re trying to encourage our customers to use the Half Windsor instead,” says Shaikh.
Among the four common knots—the Four-in-Hand Knot, the Windsor Knot, the Half Windsor Knot and the Pratt Knot— each works well in a specific setting and for a torso length. Yet most men stick to the one knot they have learnt in the teenage years instead of experimenting with new options. “Every knot adds a unique touch to your overall look and it would be a good idea to try out different knots and see what suits your body,” says Narula.
Ideally, the Four-in-Hand Knot (this is a narrow knot) works well for men with a long torso whereas the Half Windsor is perfect for men with a narrow chest. “If you are wearing a shirt with a classic collar and semi-spread collar shape, then the Half Windsor Knot suits best,” says Narula. The Windsor Knot (patronized by the Duke of Windsor) is considered the most formal among the four. “This knot, also called the Double Knot, is taught to us at school. This knot is good for full cutaway collar shirts,” adds Narula.
The Pratt Knot (some call it the Shelby Knot), while not as wide as the Windsor Knot, is suitable for formal occasions, with a formal dress shirt. “It is tough to master different knots and most of our customers, if they want to try a new knot, ask our store staff to fashion it. Then they keep the tie knot intact (with the knot in place) and wear it again,” says Narula.
In Europe, knotting a tie is serious business, according to Jacopo Fratini, chairperson, Tie Rack, who was visiting India recently. “Men know how to work on knots and differentiate them based on whether they are attending a formal meeting, a wedding or are going out for dinner.”
Also See The Different Knots
This summer, pastel hues are in vogue, especially muted yellows, purples, greens and blues. “In India, men prefer more classic designs, such as small paisley prints or the regimental prints,” says Fratini after consulting with Narula. “We see maximum sales of ties in colours such as black, burgundy, red and navy blue and grey. Very few guys experiment with oranges or even a green even though that is the hottest shade this season as a far as ties go. Besides, they also play safe with the width—mostly opting for the classic 8.5cm rather than buying very narrow ties,” adds Narula.
Shaikh agrees: “The formal business dresser wants broad ties. But stylish dressers such as actor Imran Khan do ask for slimmer ties.” Shaikh talks about the time Khan came in for a fitting and wanted a slim tie measuring no more than 8cm, which then had to be made to measure for him. In Europe, however, ties with a narrow width are common, according to Fratini, who was sporting a navy-coloured, narrow tie himself. “Guys wear the 5cm ties when they go clubbing but for (an) office gathering and meeting, the 8.5cm tie rules.”
Fratini believes one aspect of tie etiquette must be adhered to: learning how to create the perfect dimple in a tie. “A perfectly created dimple adds that finished look to the necktie. When you are done with fashioning the knot, but before you have completely tightened the knot, hold your index finger on the centre of the necktie slightly inside the knot. Then you simply push on the middle of the tie and squeeze the edges as you tighten the knot. The dimple is easier to fashion with the Windsor and Half Windsor knots. If you are making a Four-in-Hand Knot, it will be tough to get a nice-looking dimple unless you have tried it many times,” says Narula. According to Shaikh, the perfect tie length is achieved when a knotted tie just kisses the belt. Most Indian men tend to wear their ties longer, covering the belt buckle.
Parizaad Khan contributed to this story.