The four in hand knot is probably today’s most popular neck tie knot.
Its classic design and ease of mastery has made it a permanent staple of menswear.
The History of the Four in Hand Knot
No one is certain why neckties began. It is possible that the necktie got its start as an extension of tribal beads which were believed to provide protection against disease.
These beads later evolved into neck scarves which have been found molded onto terra cotta soldiers in ancient Chinese tombs.
Later the Roman Legions used ribbons called focalium tied around their necks to help identify themselves in battle.
In the Roman Senate, orators would often tie strips of wool around their necks to warm their vocal cords before an important speech.
Decorative neck wear, however, likely descends from Croatian mercenaries.
In 1636, after the Croatians helped Austria defeat Turkey, King Louis XIV invited these men to Paris to celebrate. While visiting France, the Croatians tied colorful scarves around their necks and the trend stuck.
The Parisians referred to the scarves as la cravate, the French word for Croat.
While decorative neck-wear has been around for a few hundred years, the modern neck tie was born in the industrial revolution. The sudden increase of urban job centers created the need for the common man to consistently look presentable. This required neck-wear that was easy to wear, and comfortable enough to last an entire day.
In addition to this new tie, a gentleman needed a simple knot with which to fasten his necktie. This is when the four in hand knot became popular. It was easy to tie, and comfortable and stylish enough to be worn for any occasion.
The four in hand knot derives its name from the four-horse carriage. The knot resembles the way the carriage driver would knot his reins thus keeping four horses in hand, or four in hand.
Later, a London gentleman’s club also known as the Four In Hand began to wear their neck-ties with this type of knot making it fashionable to do so.
A Closer Look at the Four in Hand Knot
A gentleman has many styles of neck tie knots of which to choose from. So knowing how to choose your tie knot is important.
Outside of neck wear, the four in hand knot is commonly known as the buntline hitch. When tied, the four in hand creates a small, asymmetrical knot which resembles a slanted letter ‘V’.
How to Tie a Four in Hand Knot
Step one: Begin with the wide portion of the tie on the right side. This should dip about eight inches to a foot below the nar
Step two: Start on the right side, bring the wide end of the tie over the narrow end once.
Step three: Bring The Wide end under the Narrow end. The wide end should end on the right side, once again.
Step Four: Tuck the wide end of the tie around the back of the loop that was just formed.
Step Five: The wide end of your neckwear should occupy the space between the necktie and shirt collar
Step Six: Hold the front of the knot loose with your first finger, slip the wide end of the tie through the loop.
Step Seven: Create a dimple under the knot in your neck tie by gently pressing in with your index finger. Pinch the sides of the knot with your thumb and middle finger and squeeze them together as you pull the knot tight. The dimple creates a look of sophistication that finishes the overall portrait of your neck-wear.
When to Wear the Four in Hand
First, examine the collar of the dress shirt. One sign of a truly well-dressed gentleman is that he knows how to match his tie knot with his collar style.
Are the points narrow or wide spread? The four in hand works well with narrow spread collars – those with collar points which angle 60 degrees or less. Button down collars also work well with the four-in-hand. If the collar spread is wider, a knot such as the half Windsor, the Double Windsor or the Shelby may serve better.
Now, examine the proportions of your face and neck. A gentleman with a wide face and neck combination should opt against the small knot of the four in hand due to its smaller knot size. On the other hand, a man with a narrow face or neck will find that the four in hand tie knot flatters his proportions nicely.
Lastly, the style of tie should be taken into account. Traditional patterns, such as clubs or stripes may look best with the four in hand knot. In addition, thinner ties wear the four in hand knot the best. Thicker ties, such as ones made in Italian silk, look better with a wide triangular knot such as the Double Windsor.