Don’t Ever Wear a Double Windsor Knot. Ever.

Thoughts on the double windsor knot, the sartorial equivalent of truck nuts

“Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”

– Ian Fleming, From Russia With Love

That’s a great quote. And it got me thinking about a topic I’ve had written on our white board for quite a while that I have been meaning to cover: why you should never tie your tie with a double windsor knot (a.k.a. the full windsor knot).

Why not? Let’s just lay it all out there: it is simply too big and too wide.

Let me give you a second to catch your breath. Okay.

I should start off by explaining that I understand why many guys like to wear a double windsor knot. It’s big. And bigger means more powerful and more masculine. Like, dude, if I’m going to get dressed up and wear a tie, I want the biggest, baddest tie knot! I get it. The double windsor knot is like the Texas of tie knots. It’s the sartorial equivalent of putting truck nuts on that big pickup truck you don’t really need.

Added to that is that the double windsor knot is slightly more complicated to tie than the sissy four-in-hand knot. (Though not nearly as complicated as the even more terrible Trinity or Eldredge. Never heard of those? Google ’em.) You need to do a little research. And more complicated equals better and cooler, right? Wrong.

Some people will argue that a bigger tie knot is necessary for a wider collar spread, such as a spread collar or cutaway collar. I think it’s more about proportion.

If you have an extremely wide face and facial features, the double windsor might be for you. However, I would submit that the girth of the double windsor is distracting. Whatever is below your face is meant to frame it, not draw attention away from it.

Personally, I never tie my tie with anything other than a double four-in-hand, but I tried a double windsor on while writing this post just to be certain what I was saying was truth and not just a conscious bias. The result? My thoughts confirmed. It’s just too wide. I thought I might be able to mitigate this by squeezing the knot together, but it would eventually expand out to its original girth.

Your turn. Chime in and let’s discuss the double windsor knot.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • Robin West

    From a female perspective, I didn’t know this was an actual knot. Anytime I saw it my first thought was “that guy doesn’t know how to tie a tie”.

    • Brian Sacawa

      That certainly could have been the case as well.

  • Leesa Gross

    Ah, but I love the look of a really intricate tie knot as the main focus. The Eldridge is one of my favorites.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks, Leesa. I’ll agree that the Eldredge is indeed intricate and interesting to look at by itself, but it’s just too much and too much of a distraction to the face. To me, it’s a sartorial ironic t-shirt.

  • Tailor & Barber

    Hi Brian! Generally, I agree with you. I think oversized knots are a bit ostentatious. I’m not a huge fan of most things done solely for the sake of attention. However, I’m curious. Large collars are currently out of fashion at the moment. Do you think if collar sizes increase, that might justify a full Windsor? Or will it always be too much. Thanks!

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for chiming in. Good question you bring up. I don’t think a bigger collar requires a bigger knot. In this post, I’m wearing an Edward Sexton pin collar shirt, which has a large collar, with a double four-in-hand. For me, it fills it out just fine.

  • Vaughn Spencer

    I used to be a Pratt-Shelby guy (except for knit ties, where 4IH is clearly best), until I discovered the self-releasing variation called “the Nicky.” Silly name. Great knot.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Will have to look that one up. I will, on occasion, tie the Pratt-Shelby.

  • Jarryd Kalideen

    Howzit mate. Good article, as always. So here’s my 2 cents – not being a fan of the double Windsor myself, I believe there is merit in a man learning a few knot variants, to use with different-sized collar shirts and for different occasions. Ultimately it is down to choice & preference. Especially considering that I for one, am a fan of the Eldredge, I think it does look cool & adds a bit of flair to a casual occasion and even work some times in my life. Keep well!

    • Brian Sacawa

      I agree that it’s good to know how to tie a variety of knots so you can determine what you like and what looks best on you. And, of course, learning to tie them is fun. I’m going to have to disagree with you on the Eldredge, however. Not my cup of tea and I, while I *get* why people wear it, I don’t think anyone should.

  • asian_dapper

    If tightened properly the full Windsor could work with some guys.
    What irks me every time are guys that do the FW knot but leave the tie so loose I could almost put my fist through it, seriously. It shows the guys’ mindset towards what’s good and what’s not.
    Half-Windsor is my go-to tie knot every single day.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Good observation. I often see the same.

  • Daniel de Paula

    Always looked best in me. The first few times I did it, it definitely came out too large and ostentatious, but some time later it started to look different, better. It now looks the right size and shape for me, became my to go knot.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Cheers, Daniel. Appreciate the comment even though we don’t necessarily share the same viewpoint!

  • spicer096
    • Brian Sacawa

      Oh, jeez…

  • Danny Olda

    I’m also not a fan of the double Windsor. However, I have a few ties that turn out a bit too long with a four-in-hand but turn out well with knots that require more cloth (e.g. a double Windsor). Squeezing the knot makes it managable enough, but is there a better way of tying a too-long tie?

    • Brian Sacawa

      I have the same issue. Have a shorter torso. it’s the reason I use the double four in hand.

  • David J. A. Foster

    It all depends on the size of your tie. For some very skinny ties made of thin fabric you need a full windsor or the knot looks tiny. For ties of regular width (over 2.5″ wide) I use the Dovorian.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Great observation. I’ve not heard of the Dovorian.

  • RD

    I respectfully disagree. Making such a sweeping statement ignores the importance of considering the particular characteristics of different ties. I own certain ties that lend themselves to being tied as modestly proportioned double Windsor knots. I appreciate the observation nonetheless (e.g., Mads Mikkelsen in “Hannibal”).

  • Patchy

    Like you said, it’s about proportions. Not all of us are scrawny guys with thin necks. Some of us can wear the full windsor just fine.

  • SC

    I don’t fully disagree but there are times where you can or need to use this but do it right.

  • Winston H

    Thanks to sharing your experience with us. Follow:

  • shelley

    Like information.
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  • Noel
  • Andrew Downing

    I disagree. The double windsor is a great knot. It is strong and secure, with a symmetrical and simple appearance that does not attract attention. The key is knowing how to tie it correctly. I myself dislike large tie knots, partly for the reasons given in the article. The double windsor is not however a large knot when tied correctly. Many people seem to make the mistake of tying it loosely, leaving more space and material within the knot. When tied tightly, as it should be, the double windsor is no larger than a double four in hand knot (which always look a bit lopsided in my opinion and don’t hold so well). To me it’s a knot of simple, understated elegance that does its job very well.

  • Terry Rigby

    Clip on okay though?

  • Jennifer Roma Michau

    If you could learn how to use commas correctly your opinion might be taken with a grain of salt. A Half Windsor is fine if you like unkept beards, button the bottom button on a waistcoat, or still live with your mom. It’s even fine if you’re going for an entry position at a company or like to say you will always happily to be the errand boy. A Full Windsor portrays power, confidence, and authority when worn with a suit. It’s an attention to detail that gets noticed without having to be pointed out. Another point behind it is that it stays in place and doesn’t slide down away from the collar. It’s one less detail you have to worry about adjusting after it’s fitted for the day.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Please tell me how I am using commas incorrectly.

  • Nicholas Kearney

    Um, there is nothing wrong with a properly tied double windsor…it’s not even close to too thick. You cant use a thick ass tie to make one, but to declare it foppish in all circumstances is ridiculous…most statesmen use a full windsor 100% of the time, because it’s considered more formal, shows attention to detail as well as conveying “power”. This article is just an excuse for men to never have to learn how to tie a tie properly…4 in hand is fine for a lot of stuff, but there are occasions where the full windsor is not only more appropriate but expected.

  • Delano Scott

    Interesting article. I admit growing up the double Windsor was the first knot my father taught me. While at 6’0 and 250 lbs it looked good on him, it wasn’t so great on a smaller skinny kid. Flash forward 30+ years and I’ve learned the Pratt and 4IH which have both served me well since I’m still short to this day. It really is all about proportion.

  • Jack Warren

    Interesting article. I had never considered your perspective until now.

    For me, I have always erred towards Full Windsor over Four-in-Hand, but not for the impression of being larger and more powerful. I actively avoid codpeices of any fashion, allowing my masculinity to permeate through my respect for others and actions.

    I was brought up by a very kind ex-Royal Air Force father who respected tidiness and in his eyes doing things ‘right’. Although I drop the ball in many areas I’m sure he would scowl at, he always raised me to properly crease my own trousers, to spit polish my shoes and to tie a Full Windsor.

    I was raised that a Four-In-Hand is the neck tie equivalent to rashly buffed shoes and a slightly un-ironed shirt. Something you can get away with and pangs of memories of school uniforms championed by children who actively shun formal attire and professionalism. I know I sound like I’m laying into people, and I know to judge people by their character and not their dress, but when you are in charge of your own image my Dad brought me up to believe the Full Windsor is the correct way.

    He also pointed out that it is symmetrical which is a aesthetically beneficial element unmentioned in the article.

    My pride swelled when the morning of a friend’s wedding he asked me (the best man) and the other groomsmen to wear Full Windsor ties and thus began a production line for he and i to teach the other gentlemen what and how to do a Full Windsor.

    Thanks for the article, I hadn’t considered the angle, but for the extra time it takes and to honour my father I’m going to stick with the Full Windsor.

  • Joe Joseph

    I think the knot depends on the width of the tie. Wider ties take up more real estate at the neck line and I like something that still makes an even triangle like the Pratt (aka the Shelby). For me I like the even clean lines that a perfectly triangular knot creates. That is why I like the Windsor and the Pratt, (AKA The Shelby). I think of the Pratt as a backwards Windsor and in a way it is. Now if it is a more formal occasion I do like to break out the Eldridge because it is just so cool.

  • Charlez Kenshol

    Most people that I have heard make the same claim really only do so because of the James bond reference.

  • Alysa

    I like the Double Windsor, I also like the Four in Hand, to me, the more complicated a tie knot is the less I Iike it!
    I also like the tie knot which is known as ‘Nicky’ in a way, though I prefer the Four in Hand and the Double Windsor!
    I also don’t like that ‘dimple’-making in a tie that is in the’ Obama-ties’ for example!
    I much dislike the ‘Trump-ties!
    A man who was really good in knotting (his) ties was Erich Honecker, and he stands with a perfect Double Windsor on his official portrait of 1976!
    Friendly greetings!

    • Alysa

      I also found out, at least for me, a ‘new’ tie knot; it is the Grantchester and I, at least, found it beautiful!
      Though, it might also be a tie knot for ‘a cad’!
      Though, I think: I will go out of the door with a tie knotted in a Grantchester and I than shall experience the reactions of what is called: ‘the public’!
      I’m a woman by the way, but I seem to like clothing myself like a man, I might be genderfluid; I never really thought about it!
      Friendly greetings!

  • Nirvana

    You are an idiot and you know nothing about style

  • Leo Campbell

    If you’re so easily distracted to the point where the thickness of a tie is drawing attention away from the speakers face, I would suggest ADHD medication

  • don’thatemecauseimbeautiful

    Generally speaking, only a douchebag wears a Windsor knots.

  • BlankedyBlankBlank

    To all… Wear whatever knot looks good and gives you confidence.