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Which tie knot goes with which shirt collar?

Which tie knot goes with which shirt collar?

You may think that matching your shirt and tie is all about colour and pattern. And those are important – get it wrong and your accessory can turn from a chic final touch into something that induces migraines. But there’s another element you need to consider: how you actually tie the tie around your neck.

There are, theoretically, hundreds of thousands of ways to tie a necktie. But for almost any situation, you only need to know two: the four-in-hand (also known as a schoolboy knot) and the Windsor. The first is simple and unobtrusive; the second is bigger, bolder and makes more of a statement. Which you choose depends entirely on the space into which it fits. “It’s all about proportion,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “You want something that complements your shirt collar and doesn’t bulge out or disappear.”

Based on the four shirt collars you’ll most frequently wear, these are the tie knots to choose.

Spread or cutaway

Spread collar

The collar: The points on spread collars angle out, which leaves a lot of room around the button.

The knot: Windsor.

The tie: A thicker fabric like silk, which has some heft.

Why it works: “You need to fill the space,” says Freddie. “A small knot will leave too much room either side and look too dainty.”


Semi-spread collar

The collar: The most common shirt type, semi-spread collars have the points closer together.

The knot: Four-in-hand.

The tie: Medium thickness, silk or wool.

Why it works: “A semi-spread leaves less space for the knot,” says Freddie. “Anything bulky will push the collar up so the points hover in the air, which looks odd.”


Button-down collar

The collar: Fastened at both points with buttons, this is a more casual style and looks just as good with no tie.

The knot: Four-in-hand.

The tie: Knitted.

Why it works: “The space is similar to a semi-spread, but it’s a less formal collar,” says Freddie. “A textured tie is a bit more relaxed.”

Pointed collar

Pointed collar

The collar: The collar points extend downwards, which creates a narrow gap.

The knot: Four-in-hand.

The tie: Slim or skinny.

Why it works: “This collar has a sharp angle and not much room,” says Freddie. “A slimmer tie means a smaller knot, so it will fit in the space better.”

Illustration: Eric Chow