The Pratt knot has a contentious history.
US Chamber of Commerce worker Jerry Pratt claims to have invented it, but it was popularized when news anchor Don Shelby wore it on-air and the New York fashion writers of the time covered it as a “new” knot.
Tailors in Milan, pre-dating both men’s claims, have been using the Pratt knot since at least the 1920s as a quick way to tie a necktie onto a mannequin for display. It is one of the easier knots to tie on someone else, requiring few turns or complicated passings.
Any of the various names (Pratt, Shelby, Pratt-Shelby, Milanese or Milan-style, etc.) all refer to the same single tying method. In modern writing, “Pratt knot” is the most commonly used term, and the one we will use here.
The Pratt makes a relatively small but symmetrical knot, which makes it a more attractive alternative to the four-in-hand or small knot. It can be tied in a thick-bodied tie like a knit necktie for a bulkier knot, but has enough heft to look presentable in a standard-width tie of light cloth as well.
Formality: Business-casual or social
Recommended Collars: Point collars, button-down collars
Pratt Knot Step 1
Drape the necktie around your collar with the seam facing outward. The thick end should be hanging on your left, and the thin end on your right.
The Pratt is tied with the thick end, and uses relatively little cloth. Position the tip of the thick end between one to two inches lower than the desired finishing position.
Pratt Knot Step 2
Cross the thick end horizontally beneath the thin end, making an X-shape under your chin.
Flip the thick end up and over the loop around your neck. This should position the tip of the thick end pointing upward, with the seam facing in.
Pratt Knot Step 3
Loop the thick end over the loop around your neck and bring it back out on the same side of the knot.
The thick end should now be pointing downward, with the seam facing outward, and hanging to the right of the narrow end.
Pratt Knot Step 4
Bring the thick end horizontally across the front of the knot from right to left. You should end up with the tip of the thick end pointed to your left, seam facing inward.
Go ahead and tuck a finger underneath the horizontal band you’ve just created across the front of the knot. You’ll be passing the necktie down through it in a couple of steps.
Pratt Knot Step 5
Slip the thick end upwards underneath the loop around your neck. The tip should be pointed upward, with the seam facing outward. Keep your finger in place, maintaining a small horizontal loop across the front of the necktie.
Pratt Knot Step 6
Bring the tip of the thick end down through the horizontal loop you created in Step 4. This should position it tip-downward, directly on top of the narrow end with the seam facing inward.
Pratt Knot Step 7
Pull the thick end all the way through the horizontal loop and snug it firmly into place. At this point you have the finished structure of the knot. It should hold in place without your help if you release it.
Pratt Knot Step 8
Adjust the necktie by grasping the knot in one hand and pulling gently on the narrow end with the other.
The Pratt knot is not self-releasing (unlike its close cousin the Nicky), and should be untied by pulling the thick end back out in a reverse of these steps.
The finished knot should be symmetrical and small, making it a natural choice for narrow point collars and casual button-downs. If the collar spread is too wide or the tie is not tightened enough, part of the loop around the collar will show, revealing the seam of the necktie.