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PQ Style: The Enduring History of the Windsor Knot and How to Tie One

how to tie a windsor knot

Pad & Quill is all about bringing together the best of the old with the best of the new. Whether it's updated classic designs, old-world craftsmanship on new-fangled products, or even the best of enduring styles that have endured for decades like being able to tie a Windsor knot. There are literally hundreds of ways to wear a tie. New styles, materials, and trends are cropping up constantly. Yet, one style has endured, the Windsor. An iconic classic, worn by infantries and businessmen alike for nearly a century. Why and how did this become the penultimate fashion statement?

The Windsor Knot- A Twist of Fate

The Duke of Windsor creates his signature look

It all started with the Duke of Windsor. Hailing from British royalty, he was something of a fashion maverick. He described his style as "dress soft", or how we'd refer to business casual nowadays. The Duke of Windsor visited America, and shortly after his knotted tie style took off.

Interestingly, and perhaps, ironically, he never actually wore the Windsor. He got the look by using a Four-in-hand knot along with thicker stitch. The resulting knot was a wide and triangular knot. His look was so influential, it inspired fellow aristocrats to adopt the style. Then, the style began to catch on by the public, it was recreated using conventional ties. Dubbed the "Windsor knot", it gained widespread adoption stateside toward the end of the 1930s. Comfortable and professional, it's universally the most iconic necktie look.

Why the Windsor Endured

In addition to its heritage, the look of the Windsor suits most men. In particular, those with square or rounded faces use the Windsor to provide a counterbalance.  Also, guys with facial hair can use it to even out the weight of a beard with the rest of their outfit.  While crafting his own future, the rugged gentleman honors the past with the Windsor's sense of boldness.

The Windsor look is easily the most popular in the world of tie knots. On solid colored ties, it is an easy way to elevate a simple color scheme into something sophisticated. Patterned ties also flourish with the Windsor. The knot's large surface area offers a full display of the necktie. Frequently, you'll see it on professionals due to its all-day comfort.

How to Tie Windsor Knots

Whether you feel suave in a suit, or, think that all ties are out to strangle you, you should know how to tie a necktie. In particular, the Windsor knot is a great place to start. However, it does require some practice time, patience, and a longer than usual tie. In general, go for a tie that's about an inch and a half longer than conventional ties. Then, pair it with a dress shirt that has a more widespread collar. Our last tip is to choose a tie you love; people are going to notice this one! History aside, it's the look of the tie and relaxed yet professional feel of the knot that makes mastering the Windsor a huge pay off. Bold confidence and refined sophistication are all expressed with this easy knot.

Here's how to tie the Windsor knot: 

1. Begin by draping the tie over your neck with the wide end on the right, narrow end on the left. The narrow end should end a finger or two above the navel, and the wide several inches below that. (Of course, the exact ratio depends on your measurements and the length of the tie. Feel free to mix it up a bit during practice!)

2. Secondly, cross the wide end over the narrow, then up from underneath to create the foundation of the knot.

3. Then, lay the wide end down and to the left, then around the back of the narrow end and to the right.

4. From the front, bring the wide end back up through the center, towards the neck loop.

5. Afterward, bring the wide end back down, and then right this time around.

6. Then, bring the wide end over the front of the narrow end, from right to left.

7. Then, bring the wide up into the neck loop from underneath once more.

8. Next, tuck and pull the wide end through the small loop you've created.

9. Lastly, straighten it out by pulling the wide end of the tie, then slide the knot up. Adjust as needed, but stop once you get a comfortable, symmetrical triangle.

The horizontal top should sit between the wings of the collar bone. For you med students (or devoted House fans) that's the suprasternal notch. Tied correctly, it is symmetrical, easy to untie, and doesn't choke the wearer. Now, the typical Windsor knot is commonly associated with the "dimple" in the tie. However, you can wear the knot flat for a more traditional look.

How to tie a half Windsor knot:

1. Begin with the wide end of the tie on the right and the small on the left. The tip of the small end should rest slightly above your belly-button, this might vary depending on your height and tie material. You'll only be moving the wide end of the tie.

2. Place the wide end over the small and to the left.

3. Tuck the wide end under the small end then to the right.

4. Then, bring it up to the center, back towards the neck loop.

5. Next, bring it through the neck loop and to the left.

6. Afterward, bring it across the front, over to the right.

7. Up into the neck loop from underneath.

8. Down through the loop you've just created in the front.

9. Lastly, tighten up the knot by pulling down on the wide end. Slide the knot up & adjust.

How to tie a double Windsor knot:

Now that you know how to tie a half and a single Windsor, let's kick it up a notch and go for a Double Windsor Knot. It's super trendy, and so much harder than the single Windsor, right? Well... we'll let you in on a secret, The Double Windsor Knot doesn't exist. It's a misnomer. The Double Windsor is just the classic Windsor knot as we know it.

The confusion started with the popularity of the Half Windsor Knot. Instead of a half, people were referring to the full or "doubled" Windsor. Regardless of how you refer to it, the Windsor is just the thing for a classic look. Simply follow the instructions for the Windsor Knot and you're set!

How to pack ties for travel

mens ties

Ties are investment pieces and should be cared for as such. It's no use trying to wear the Windsor knot with a crumpled, snagged necktie. It completely deflates the class the Windsor knot brings to the table.

If you are packing ties for a trip, they ought to be favorites. Take an extra couple of minutes now, and pack your wardrobe's MVPs. Plus, you'll be saving yourself the hassle of digging through your bag then trying to straighten them out upon arrival. However, the life of your neckties (and other clothes) depend on the bag they are carried inside. There's more than one way to travel well with ties. Here are our top three:

The Flat Fold

mens travel satchel

This is the simplest method and can work well if your bag won't be shifting too much in transit. The best bags for the fold flat method are ones that are vertically organized, like our Weatherproof Laptop Bag. It has loads of pockets and has room for plenty of neckties. Simply fold your favorites in half and layer in between folded shirts.

Roll & Tuck

mens leather duffle bag

This method is incredibly easy and great at combatting tie wrinkles. Fold the tie in half from end-to-end. Starting at the narrow end, tightly roll up the tie. It should resemble a short, fat cylinder about the size of a coffee mug. This shape is perfect to tuck into corners of horizontal bags, or even in the sole of your business shoes. Especially if those shoes are at the top of the bag, the tie won't unfurl. For this method, we suggest using our Travel Leather Weekend Bag. It's got plenty of room for business attire and we made it with conference rockstars in mind.

Use a Tie Case

leather tie travel case

This method ensures your neckwear arrives at your destination in ship-shape. Tie travel cases are great investments for globetrotters. Most tie travel cases hold a handful of ties, and some even have pockets for tie clips and cufflinks. They make great gifts for graduations, Father's Day, or even birthdays.

tie holder bag

Our TechFolio Pro Travel Case is a classy way to pack your ties and tech gear. The right-hand pocket holds up to two ties and keeps them wrinkle-free in its zippered pouch. Then, store your accessories in the left-hand pocket. The TechFolio can work on its own but works best when paired with another bag. Above, it's paired with our Classic Messenger Bag to form the ultimate day-trip power duo.

A favorite tie is worth packing well. Otherwise, why even bring it? Why even own it? Invest in pieces that say something about who you are - a rugged gentleman who cares. Do you have any tie related tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to Tie a Bowtie

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