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 which is great for formal/semi-formal wear. And the best part? It has all the words most tie-wearers want to hear – it's simple, convenient, stylish and easy to make.
Summary Of The Pratt knot:
- Recommended collars: Narrow point collars, button-down collars
- Formality: Business-casual or social
- Level of difficulty: Easy
- Symmetry: Yes
- Size of the knot: Medium (relatively small)
#1. Pratt Knot – History
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.
#2. Pratt Knot – Description
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).
#3. Pratt Knot – When To Wear
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.
Due to the Pratt Shelby’s size, it fits well with button down and spread collars. The knot doesn’t dominate these collar types as the Windsor would. In conclusion the Pratt Shelby is a nice, classic necktie knot that would be wise for the stylish man to experiment with.
#4. Pratt Knot – Step By Step
- Drape the necktie around your collar with its seam facing outward and the thick end hanging on your left, 1-2 inches lower than the desired finishing spot.
- Cross the thick end underneath the thin end – forming an X-shape below your chin.
- Pass the thick end through the loop.
- Pull the thick end all the way down and flip the tip so that it’s pointing to your left.
- Bring the thick end horizontally across the front of the knot (from right to left). Tuck a finger behind the horizontal band you’ve just created.
- Slip the thick end up through the loop from underneath.
- Point the tip of the thick end downward – directly on top of the narrow end.
- Pull the thick end down through the horizontal band. Snug it firmly into place.
You can adjust the necktie by grasping the knot with one hand while pulling on the narrow end gently with the other.
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.