The cafe knot, as the name implies, was a style favored by frequenters of cafes in the early part of the 20th century.
It is a stylish and unnecessarily complicated knot, designed to draw attention to the dresser’s knot-tying prowess (and, generally, to his fine silk necktie as well). The finished product has a distinct pair of downward diagonals framing the center of the triangular knot. It is not quite symmetrical, as one “leg” of the triangle overlays the other.
The finished product has a distinct pair of downward diagonals framing the center of the triangular knot. It is not quite symmetrical, as one “leg” of the triangle overlays the other.
While the finished knot is not as bulky as a Windsor or Balthus, it does require a fair amount of length to tie. Ideally the two framing “legs” should be tied with the slim center of the necktie; else they will completely hide the knot between them.
This is an excellent knot to use with a casual suit or a dressier sports jacket, or even with shirt sleeves in a social setting. It should not be worn to an office job or any sort of serious event.
The cafe knot is interesting in that it is primarily tied with the narrow end of the necktie, unlike most knots, which work primarily with the thicker end.
The thick end will only make one short loop at the end, so start it just a half-inch or so longer than you want the finished tie.
It may take you several attempts to get this one right. It’s not a beginner’s knot — and not a particularly functional one, beyond its decorative purpose.
Formality: Casual/social wear only
Recommended Collars: Point, button-down
Cafe Knot Step 1
Drape the necktie around your collar with the seam facing inward. The thick end should hang on your right side, about a half an inch lower than you want the finished tie to hang. The thin end may be longer as a result — that’s fine. You’ll be using it up.
Cafe Knot Step 2
Cross the thin end over the top of the thick end, forming an X-shape just below your chin. Then bring the thin end up through the loop you just formed, behind the X-shape.
Cafe Knot Step 3
Flip the thin end over the top of the knot. At this point the thick end should be hanging straight down in front of your chest with the seam facing inward, and the thin end should be hanging to its left, also with the seam facing inward.
Cafe Knot Step 4
Bring the thin end of the tie around behind knot, passing it from left to right. This will turn its seam outward.
Cafe Knot Step 5
Fold the thin end over and bring it back across the front of the knot, from right to left.
At this point the thick end is still hanging straight down (you haven’t done anything with it so far), and the thin end should be horizontal across the front of the knot, with its tip pointed to your left and its seam facing inward.
Cafe Knot Step 6
Bring the thin end behind the knot and up through the loop around your neck. This will leave a horizontal band across the front of the knot, while the tip of the thin end should be poking up from behind the knot and aimed toward the ceiling.
Cafe Knot Step 7
Flip the thin end over the front of the knot so that it hangs pointed downward. At this point the thin end should be lying atop the knot and atop the thick end, and both ends should be pointed downward with their seams facing outward.
By now you’ve used enough cloth up that the thin end should be an inch or two shorter than the thick end beneath it.
Cafe Knot Step 8
Bring the thin end slightly to the left of the thick end, then fold it around behind the knot, passing from left to right.
This will turn the seam of the thin end outward, and leave a diagonal “leg” along the left side of the knot.
Cafe Knot Step 9
Bring the thin end up in front of the knot, pointing the tip upward and toward your left shoulder.
This will create a “leg” that mirrors the other, so that you have diagonals framing both sides of the knot.
Cafe Knot Step 10
Tuck the thin end through the loop around your collar, behind the rest of the knot and emerging on the left side of the thick end.
At this point the thick end should hang straight downward, with its seam facing inward, while the thin end should be emerging from behind it and slightly to the left, with its seam facing outward.
The final shape of the knot is visible at this point: a small horizontal bar framed by a diagonal pair of legs on either side.
Cafe Knot Step 11
Tug the thin end down firmly and take a moment to arrange the center of the knot. You want the diagonal legs to rise at the same angle, meeting squarely beneath your chin.
Cafe Knot Step 12
This is the first time you’ll move the thick end of the tie.
Flip it forward and up. You can toss it over one shoulder or the other (it doesn’t really matter which). The purpose here is to expose the underside of the knot, which will have a single horizontal loop running right across the back.
At this point the thick end is pointed upward, seam out, and the three-legged front of the knot is hidden from view. The thin end should still be hanging downward, also seam-out.
Cafe Knot Step 13
Turn the thin end point-upward and slip it through the single horizontal loop across the back of the knot. The loop should be very easy to identify — it’s the only thing on the back of the knot that you can conveniently fit an end through.
This will put the thin end belly-to-belly with the thick end, seams touching.
Cafe Knot Step 14
Pull the thin end all the way through the loop and snug it up tight. It should be shorter than the thick end at this point.
Looking in the mirror, all you should be able to see at this point are the two ends, belly to belly and flipped over a shoulder, and the single horizontal loop that forms the underside of the knot.
Cafe Knot Step 15
Flip the two ends of the tie back down. As if by magic, the front of the knot reappears, with the matched ends pinned beneath it.
At this point you should have the completed knot in place. The front triangular shape is visible, and the two ends hang beneath it, centered on your chest and touching with the seams belly to belly. The thick end hangs atop the thin end, hiding it completely.
Cafe Knot Step 16
Tighten carefully. Because the thin end is the working end (unusual in neckties), you actually adjust by holding the knot in one hand while tugging on the thick end with your other. Tighten until the knot is snug against your neck, and then adjust the necktie loop until the knot is centered.
Slip the thin end through the tag or loop on the back of the thick end, if you still have enough length in it. If not, use a tie bar or similar accessory to hold the ends together.
Congratulations — you now have a lovely, three-legged knot showing off your knot-tying prowess!
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