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

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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”.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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.

  • http://www.tailorandbarber.com/ 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!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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. http://hespokestyle.com/tourbillon-watch-style-ideas/

  • 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.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Good observation. I often see the same.

  • https://danielmpaula.wordpress.com/ 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.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

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

  • http://racingtoaredlight.com/ spicer096
    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Oh, jeez…

  • http://www.artatbay.com/ 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?

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ 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.