"A well-knotted cravat is the first serious step in a man's life."
Those words were uttered by famed Irish writer/poet Oscar Wilde, and they sum up how important it is for a man to know how to tie a tie (or cravat, as it sometimes is still referred to). It shows class, style, and it can reveal more about a man than you think.
When you're interviewing for your dream job, what will your tie say about the way you conduct business? When you're attending a wedding with a date, will she want to hang on your arm or will you be flying solo for the night because you're the guy that can't match a tie to his suit?
Okay, so a tie is important. But what do men need to know when it comes to neckties? Good question. The first thing is how to pick one out. Different situations call for different colors and winging it is almost as bad as not knowing how to tie one. You'll also want to know about the different kinds of knots and finally, yes, how to correctly tie one.
Let's start by picking out a tie. Make sure you buy a tie made of 100% pure silk that isn't too distracting. You're not trying to land a plane; you're trying to impress a perspective employer, a client or her parents. So pick a plain color (stripes work well, too) that goes with the rest of your attire.
RED: Accentuates the overall outfit and goes with almost any suit and shirt, especially when matched with a darker suit and a white, gray or blue dress shirt.
BURGUNDY/DARK RED: Viewed as a "business classic" color, often worn by politicians and is good for almost any occasion.
BLUE: One of the most popular colors for neckties and is usually a good choice in spring.
NAVY/DARK BLUE: Like burgundy, navy is perfect for business occasions and will combine with all other colors.
ORANGE, PINK, YELLOW, GREEN: All good choices for spring and go well with white, light blue or other light-colored dress shirts. In particular, green ties match really well with white dress shirts.
BLACK: Acceptable when wearing a Tuxedo but unless you're auditioning to be a member of the Blues Brothers, limit black to funerals.
GRAY AND SILVER: Works well at parities or various celebrations. They can also be worn at work with a white dress shirt to pull off a neat, classic look.
Now that you have your tie, knowing the different kinds of knots is beneficial. (So is pulling off the look, which is why we've provided links to step-by-step video instructions on how to tie the knot you want.) Below are the four common types of knots and a brief description of what the knot is intended for.
Is the most common knot due to its simplicity. It's also sometimes referred to as the simple knot, cravat knot or schoolboy knot and is appropriate for most occasions. It's the easiest to learn, although it is asymmetric, which does not look good with wide collar shirts. Learn how to tie a four-in-hand knot.
When tied correctly, this knot will produce a neat, triangular knot and is larger than the four-in-hand knot, but smaller than the Windsor. This works well with light or medium-weight fabrics. It's more difficult to tie than a four-in-hand knot, but it's also more business-like. Learn how to tie a half-Windsor knot.
WINDSOR KNOT (OR FULL-WINDSOR)
Windsor Knot or Full-Windsor: Erroneously referred to as a "Double Windsor" by some, this knot produces a wide symmetrical triangular knot. It's worn more for formal occasions and it gives a sense of nobility. It looks great with wide collar shirts, although if you use a tie made of thick materials, the results probably will be too large. Learn how to tie a Windsor knot.
Also referred to as the "Shelby knot," which is best for wide collars because it leaves you with a triangle knot. It's a neat look and suitable for most shirts and occasions. Learn how to tie a Pratt knot.
Unless you're still in grade school or need it to pull off a humorous Halloween costume, there's no excuse for a man to wear a clip-on these days. While you may loathe wearing one, a tie can reveal a lot about who you are. It can tell someone how professional or organized you are. It can speak volumes about your knowledge of fashion, even if you know very little. Believe it or not, it can also reveal personality traits such as whether or not you're reliable, jealous or arrogant.
So bone up on your tie knowledge, men. You never know what yours is saying about you.
Check out our Get Real Guide for Men regularly for more tips for the everyman!