How To Tie A Pratt Knot

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Step 3: Bring the wide end up and through the loop.

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Step 4: Pull it all the way downward, wrapping it tightly.

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Step 5: Cross the wide end over.

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Step 6: Bring it behind the knot.

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Step 7: And pull it all the way up and over.

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Step 8: Thread the wide end through the loop.

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Step 9: Pull all the way through.

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10. Tighten the knot, slide up and adjust.

The Pratt knot, Shelby knot or the Milanese knot – how to tie and the story behind the knot with three names

The Pratt knot (a.k.a. the Shelby Knot or the Milanese knot) is a variation on the Windsor knot. It’s relatively simple, it’s symmetrical, it’s slightly bold and it pretty much ensures a perfect tie dimple every time you tie it. Beyond that, it’s got a pretty interesting history and story.

pratt knot shelby knot how to tie

Named for its supposed inventor, Jerry Pratt, a former United States Chamber of Commerce employee, it wasn’t until a news anchor by the name of Don Shelby started wearing it on air that it truly became popular. (N.B. This is why you will sometimes hear this knot referred to as the Pratt-Shelby.)

The story goes that Pratt visited Shelby’s set once and refused to leave until he made Shelby’s tie knot look better. As Pratt gave the tutorial, Shelby was tickled by how easy it was to tie and how easily it made the perfect tie dimple.

pratt knot shelby knot how to tie

| WEARING | J.Crew blazer, Al Bazar shirt, Ring Jacket pants, Drake’s tie, Rolex watch, Shoes c/o Tommy Hilfiger | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Shelby started wearing the knot on television and, believe it or not, it caught the attention of the New York fashion writers, who covered this new tie knot that Shelby was wearing. Can you imagine such a thing happening today? After that, it became a hallmark of Shelby’s on-air wardrobe and the rest is history.

There is evidence, however, that the Pratt knot dates back to tailors in 1920s Milan, who used it as a quick way to tie ties on their mannequins. This explains why you will sometimes hear this knot referred to as the Milanese knot.

pratt knot shelby knot how to tie

Below are the steps for how to tie the Pratt knot with a gif to help illustrate. If that moves too fast for your taste, we’ve also got each frame along with the instructions in the slideshow above. Enjoy!

Step by Step: How To Tie a Pratt Knot (a.k.a. the Shelby Knot)

pratt knot shelby knot

1. Start with the wide end on the left, narrow end on the right. Make sure the seam of the tie is facing outward!

2. Cross the narrow end over the wide end.

3. Bring the wide end up and through the loop.

4. Pull it all the way downward, wrapping it tightly.

5. Cross the wide end over.

pratt knot shelby knot how to tie

6. Bring it behind the knot.

7. And pull it all the way up and over.

8. Thread the wide end through the loop.

9. Pull all the way through.

10. Tighten the knot, slide up and adjust.

pratt knot shelby knot how to tie

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • RD

    Dear Brian,

    How is the Pratt knot acceptable in your estimation, but the full Windsor should be avoided at all cost (ibid. previous HSS post)? I ask with an intended tone of sober inquiry, and not one of sarcasm.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Good question, RD. (And I love the use of ibid., by the way.) These tutorials – and we’re even going to do one for the Full Windsor, believe it or not! – are intended to provide the information for guys interested in learning how to tie these knots and experiment for themselves with what they like. No judgement in any of these posts. Like the Full Windsor, the Pratt is not a knot I would personally wear, but I think there’s great value in giving the info out to those interested. When we round them up in a future post, I may editorialize a bit, but not in each individual post other than the fact that I love the double four-in-hand! Cheers, my friend.

    • Mark Johnson

      Seems like it might have one fewer up and unders than the full Windsor and hence be slightly less ginormous (is that the objection to the full Windsor? I don’t know). At least it has one fewer than the way I tie a full Windsor but then I just learned I’ve been tying the double four in hand wrong for years so maybe I’ve have that one wrong too.

  • shelley

    Visit our Men’s Fashion site

  • Noel
  • Algirdas Gricius

    This is a very nice symmetrical knot, but it seems that you used a very thick tie, thus the knot looks huge. Almost same width as your jacket lapels and also has a gap between shirt colar.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Yes, the tie is made from a thicker fabric so it makes the knot look bigger.

  • LAStyleGuy

    The knot is hideous. And the way it hits your shirt collar, you can see the tie cloth under the collar that feeds into the knot. Also hideous.

    • Brian Sacawa

      So what type of knot do you prefer? Also, if you’re wearing a cutaway collar shirt, you’re always going to see some of the tie outside of the collar. No way around it.

  • Jerry Davis

    Sorry, looks bad, real bad.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Why are you sorry? If it’s not for you, it’s not for you.

  • Old Guy

    The problem isn’t the knot, but rather the hideously short collar used in the picture;they simply do not go together. The Pratt knot is really a combination of the full and half Windsor knots tied backwards. The dimple makes it worth trying as a legitimate variation on the aforementioned knots

  • DonCorleone

    I learned how to tie this exact knot when I worked at Macy’s in 1982/83 from the lady who dressed the mannequins. I would buy into the Pratt Knot name, but definitely not the Pratt-Shelby or Shelby Knot.

    I like this knot as I NEVER wear spread collar shirts. This knot is symmetrical and small enough to go under a tab collared shirt. My only gripe is when taking the tie off, the knot is a KNOT. The knot doesn’t release when you pull on the tie.

    I experimented on a variation of the Pratt Knot where the knot releases. I’ve always thought I created that variation in 1983 only to find out it’s called the Nicky Knot. Look it up on Wikipedia. This is the knot I use 100% of the time and I never buy thick ties as well.