The Pratt knot.
Ever heard of it?
Nope – it’s not named after the guy in Guardians
of the Galaxy.
It’s a century-old necktie knot…
Great for formal/semi-formal wear.
The best part?
It has all the words most tie-wearers want to hear:
- A nice dimple (easy to make!)
To learn how to tie the Pratt (as well as the uses & history behind it)…
Read the rest of this article.
What Is The Pratt Knot?
The Pratt is a variation of the Windsor knot. It’s symmetrical and medium-sized – so people consider it a great alternative to the Small or Four-in-hand knot.
How exactly is it medium-sized? It’s pretty much right in between the Windsor and the Four-in-hand. It also uses less of the tie fabric than a full Windsor.
The Pratt is known as an easy knot to tie – requiring just a few turns or passings. And with the way it’s done, there’s enough heft for this style to work on a standard-width tie (of light cloth) or a thick-bodied tie (like a knit necktie).
History Of The Pratt Knot
The Pratt knot has an interesting history.
A former US Chamber of Commerce employee named Jerry Pratt was supposedly the “inventor” – but it became popular thanks to news anchor Don Shelby (who some people believe deserves credit for it). That’s why this knot is also called the Pratt-Shelby.
It all started when the 92-year-old Pratt came to Shelby’s telecast one day. He refused to leave until he was able to fix Shelby’s tie. Changing it up – he amazed Shelby with how easily he could form the tie’s dimple without any fuss.
So Shelby wore it on-air – catching the attention of New York fashion writers at the time. They covered it as a “new” knot. And from then on, the knot became a permanent part of Shelby’s broadcaster wardrobe.
But here’s the thing: the Pratt knot actually dates back to the early 20th century. It is said that tailors in Milan have used it since at least the 1920s. It was a quick way for them to tie neckties onto mannequins for display. Hence another term exists – the Milanese knot.
When To Wear The Pratt Knot
Because of its similarities to the Windsor, the Pratt knot is appropriate for almost any semi-formal or formal event. Business functions, cocktails, weddings – you name it. So imagine how much of a lifesaver it becomes when you’re running late to those events… and you still need to dress up!
The Pratt works best for moderately sized faces. In fact, for some men – the Windsor actually dwarfs their faces but the Pratt knot complements their proportions.
A breakdown of everything you should know about the Pratt knot:
- Size of the knot: Medium (relatively small)
- Symmetry: Yes
- Level of difficulty: Easy
- Formality: Business-casual or social
- Recommended collars: Narrow point collars, button-down collars
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #1
Drape the necktie around your collar – with its seam (back side) facing outward. The thick end should be hanging on your left, and the thin end on your right.
Note: The Pratt knot is tied with the thick end, using relatively little cloth. So do position the tip of the thick end 1-2 inches lower than the desired finishing spot.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #2
Cross the thick end underneath the thin end – forming an X-shape below your chin. This creates a similar loop to the one used in tying a Half-Windsor.
Lift the tip of the thick end (exposing its front side) to prepare it for being inserted through the loop.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #3
Pass the thick end through the loop. Bring it back out over to the right side of the knot once more.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #4
Pull the thick end all the way downward – with its seam facing outward once again. Flip the tip so that it’s pointing to your left.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #5
Bring the thick end horizontally across the front of the knot (from right to left). At this point, the seam of the thick end is now facing inward.
Tuck a finger behind the horizontal band you’ve just created at the front of the knot. You’ll be passing the tie through it later on.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #6
Slip the thick end through the loop (coming from underneath it). The will make the seam face outward once again. Keep your finger in place.
Point the tip of the thick end downward – directly on top of the narrow end. You’re about to pass the thick end through the horizontal band.
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #7
Pull the thick end all the way down through the horizontal band. Snug it firmly into place. You now have the finished structure of the knot (it should stay put without your help if you try releasing it).
How To Tie A Tie: The Pratt Knot – Step #8
Finally, adjust the necktie by grasping the knot with one hand – while pulling on the narrow end gently with the other. Fix the dimple of the tie so it looks even better on you.
The Pratt Knot – Additional Reminders
- The Pratt is NOT a self-releasing knot. It should only be untied by pulling the thick end back out (in a reverse of these steps).
- Since the knot is naturally small and symmetrical, it’s more suitable for narrow point collars and casual button-downs. If the collar spread is too wide (or the tie isn’t tightened enough), part of the loop will get exposed – and so will the seam.
Congratulations! You’ve just tied yourself a Pratt knot. It’s a nice, refreshing alternative to the more traditional necktie knots. For any upcoming social event – it’s definitely worth trying out.