The Kelvin is a small knot similar to the four-in-hand, with an extra turn to make it symmetrical. The knot is tied “inside-out,” with the seam facing outward as it drapes around the collar. When finished, the thick end of the tie, the knot, and the shirt collar hide the seam from view.
The Kelvin knot is named for William Thompson, The Lord Kelvin, the nineteenth-century scientist best known for his work in thermodynamics. The knot is a more modern invention, and would never have been worn by the Lord Kelvin; it was named in honor of his contributions to early mathematical knot theory.
As a smaller knot, the Kelvin works well when you have little spare length to work with, and may need a thicker tie to bulk it up. Tied in a very light and narrow tie it can tighten down until it appears very small, making the wearer’s head appear unattractively large.
Use the Kelvin for a quick, casual necktie knot with a little more symmetry than the angular four-in-hand.
Formality: Business or social
Recommended Collars: Point collars, button-down collars
Kelvin Knot Step 1
Drape the necktie around your collar with the seam facing outward. The thick end should be on your left, and the thin end on your right.
The knot is tied with the thick end, so be sure that it hangs two to three inches further than the desired finishing position.
Kelvin Knot Step 2
Cross the thick end under the thin end from left to right, creating an X-shape under your chin.
Kelvin Knot Step 3
Bring the thick end back across the front of the knot from right to left. Continue wrapping it around the thin end and pass it back from left to right behind the knot.
You should finish this step with the thick end pointing to your right, seam facing outward.
Kelvin Knot Step 4
Continue wrapping to bring the thick end horizontally across the front of the knot from right to left once again. Slip a finger underneath the horizontal band this creates — you’ll be tucking the end of the necktie through it in another couple steps.
At this point you’ve made a full, 360-degree rotation around the thinner end with the thicker end.
The tip of the thick end should be pointed to your left, with the seam facing inward.
Kelvin Knot Step 5
Tuck the thick end upward underneath the loop around your collar. It should emerge with the tip pointed upward, seam facing outward.
Kelvin Knot Step 6
Bring the tip of the thick end down through the horizontal loop you created in Step 4 (but not the smaller one you created in Step 3).
At this point the tip of the thick end should be pointed straight down, seam facing inward, and the thick end should be lying atop the thin end.
Kelvin Knot Step 7
Pull the thick end all the way through the horizontal loop, snugging the knot down into place. Take a moment to adjust the horizontal loop, making sure that it is even and flat all the way across the front of the knot.
Kelvin Knot Step 8
Tighten the tie by grasping the knot with one hand and pulling gently on the narrow end with the other.
A finished Kelvin knot should be small, symmetrical, and relatively flat, with the seams of the tie completely hidden from view. This is an ideal knot for casual wear, and for men with smaller faces.