In an age when T-shirts are accepted evening wear, it seems that the art of a well-fastened tie is dying out.
Deconstructing the four-in-hand knot
Given that a smart tie adds polish and finesse to a suit, we consider its decline a real shame. We understand that, for the uninitiated, ties can seem a little daunting, so here is a mini-guide to one of the easier knots.
The four-in-hand knot is thought to have taken its name from the practice of driving a coach and horses (which involves holding four reins in one hand), and is the most common knot, learnt by every child wearing a school uniform. The oldest-known knot, it appeared around the necks of the Terracotta Army of Xi’an circa 210BC, and was used by Roman soldiers to secure identifying ribbons.
Here’s how you do it: with shirt collars folded up, drape the tie around your neck, with the wide end hanging long. Cross the wide end over the front of the narrow end, then pull it back underneath, forming a simple loop. Repeat, but this time push the wide end diagonally through the gap under the chin. Now, holding firmly, push the wide end through the front of the double loop you have just created. Pull to tighten. The knot should sit high at the throat, evenly in the gap between the shirt collars.
Small and tidy, it is meant to be slightly asymmetric, so should be a little higher on one side. Easy and quick to fasten, the four-in-hand knot works well with any shirt and, most importantly, is easy to loosen on dress-down Thursdays or after work. And in case you need further proof of its versatility, the four-in-hand is the knot of choice for James Bond, when he is not wearing a bow tie.