Nothing sets off a man's style like a tie -- but only if the tie knot is crisp and well-presented. Many styles exist for tie knots, each suited to a particular tie or function. The Windsor knot, for instance, is the classic formal tie knot but works best with thinner, narrower ties. For a slightly less formal knot that works with most any tie, use the half-Windsor instead. Then there's the four-in-hand knot, which is a good semi-casual knot for any tie. Regardless of the knot or tie involved, however, you need to tighten it properly or your best efforts will still result in a slightly sloppy appearance.
Tie your necktie according to the knot you desire. There are 85 different tie knot styles -- although only about ten are commonly used today. (Ref 1) Create the knot about halfway up your tie, or breast level, so that when the knot is complete, you must slide it up the remaining half to your neck. Leave the knot loose enough to insert a finger in from the bottom.
Grasp the skinny end of the tie with your left hand and hold in place at stomach level. (Ref 2) Your left hand should not move while you tighten the tie -- your right hand will do all the work.
Cup your right hand over the tie knot so your hand completely encloses the knot. Push your index finger up inside the center of the knot slightly, so your thumb is on one side of the knot, your last three fingers on the other side, and your finger barely inside the pocket your tie knot forms. You can skip putting your finger in it, but it will give your tie that extra bit of style if you do. (Ref 3)
Squeeze the sides of the knot together and slide up with your right hand. Retain the fingertip inside the knot as the tie slides up towards your neck. Stop when you reach your neck, leaving it slightly loose for final adjustments. (Ref 3)
Manipulate your necktie knot, tightening and fluffing the knot (Ref 4) and adjusting the skinny and wide ends where they leave the knot. Make the dimple created in the bottom of the knot (the drape of the tie leaving the knot) as distinct as possible. Dimples create visual depth and form in Windsor and half-Windsor knots most readily; some knot styles may have irregular and poor-looking dimples. (Ref 3)
Tighten the necktie if needed, making sure the tie is snug but not too tight around your throat. Turn your shirt collar down to complete.
With endless choices of tie knot styles, it may seem overwhelming to choose and learn to use them. Pick two or three tie knot styles and master them instead. The knots mentioned -- Windsor, half-Windsor and Four in Hand are perhaps the most popular choices. To remove your tie, slide the narrow end of the tie up and out of the knot and untie the knot, instead of just pulling the tie off while tied. The tie fabric can become damaged in time, as well as the fact that the tie will loose its crisp appearance if not stored properly. Store your tie, between uses, by either coiling or hanging draped over a clothes hanger or similar device.