First of all you should familiarize yourself with these three basic knots. These will probably be the only knots you’ll ever need to use in your life. But how/when do you use each of them? Ah now hat is a question man has pondered since the dawn of man… or more accurately I’ve been pondering since someone asked me a few weeks ago.
There’s two factors that are involved here:
- The width of your collar
- The type and size of your tie
The first point is pretty simple… The four-in-hand knot is the slimmest, the half-windsor comes in second, and the full windsor is the widest. The more spread the collar is, the bigger the knot. Also, the bigger the actual collar width the bigger the knot. Smaller more modern collars should stick with the four-in-hand (and stick with skinnier ties too).
The second point certainly relates to the first point… You should judge the size of tie to wear based on the type of collar your shirt has (and vice versa). But the type of tie also matters, because if it’s a knitted tie you should always go with the four-in-hand knot and a smaller collar.
Finally, if you follow the rules above, and the back portion of the tie sticks out longer than the front portion then your tie is just too long for your torso. Time to get it altered by a tailor!