09 August 2007

Technical Notes on Brooks Brothers

So I'll confess, I'm a little bit of a dandy; I know 5.5 knots to tie a necktie (four-in-hand, Prince Albert, half-Windsor, Windsor, bowtie, and ascot [honorable mention]), and I use them all. This is why I was very excited to learn that Brooks Brothers, that venerable old house (too conservative and amply cut for me most of the time, but a bastion of good taste nevertheless), has a flash-animated feature on their website explaining the 6 classic necktie knots (+bowtie)--including a nice explanation of how and when to wear them. I thought it would be nice to commune with my fellow sartorialists and check my knots for accuracy. Little did I know that Brooks Brothers was perpetrating a fraud--perhaps unknowingly--regarding two of their knots.

It comes down to this: their half-Windsor and cross knots are exactly the same knot--one is tied left-handed, the other right. Because the thing finishes symmetrically (unlike the four-in-hand, which has a nice asymmetrical rake to it), the direction with which you wrap the fat part around the skinny part in the opening motions is rendered irrelevant.

Unsure of my initial conclusions, I ran this quandry by my crack fact-checking team (OK it was Jordan but he's never wrong), and they corroborated.

And if you still don't believe me, here's the play by play:

Step 1:
HW - Wide end over narrow end (to your left)
CK - Wide end over narrow end (to your right)

Step 2:
HW - Wide end behind narrow end (to your right)
CK - Wide end behind narrow end (to your left)

Step 3:
HW - Same side: Up through loop.
CK - Same side: Up through loop.

Step 4:
HW - Bring the fat end around the front, ending on the left.
CK - Bring the fat end around the front, ending on the right.

Step 5:
HW - Same side: Up through the loop again and then down front to finish.
CK - ditto.

What's even more hilarious is the explanation given of each knot:

The Cross knot, used with thin fabric ties, is smart when finished but is complicated to achieve.

If you're looking for something a little more assertive, try the half-Windsor knot. A medium triangular knot that is worn more formal than the four-in-hand, it can be worn for any occasion (preferably with standard shirt collars) and works best with somewhat wider ties made from light to medium fabrics.

Bullshit! It's the same knot!
So, gents, don't give me porridge and call it puddin'. If you're going to survive as one of America's top-notch clothiers, god is in the details: tighten up those knots.


Pete said...

Well said Pep. Despite Brooks Brothers general lack of awesome, their fall line will include several pieces designed by Thom Browne. I know Pepper knows this, but for the rest of you style-less mugs, Browne, along with Tom Ford, are responsible for the rebirth of the suit and the well dressed man. So save up some scratch and get yourself some custom shirts and suits and start looking like an adult.

PS- The ladies love it.

Pepper said...

Well done, Mr. Pete.

kyle said...

you're right, you are a bit of a dandy.