Upgrade Your Knot: How to Tie a Nicky Tie Knot

Wool tie, The Tie Bar | $15
Shirt, Rufus | $200
Jacket, J.Crew | $278

I’m not one for extras for extras’ sake. For most of our lives the few tie knots we were taught growing up sufficed. No need to learn 15 tie knots just for the hell of it. This was true with the popular style of the time: 3.5 inch silk ties, no ifs, ands, or buts. Beginning in the 80′s and carrying through the 90′s, sartorial convention for men’s neckwear was simple. No textures, no skinny ties, and nothing other than silk would be accepted.

By now you know that men these days don’t hold to such strict, arbitrary guidelines. Ties made of wool and other textured fabrics have become mainstream ways of mixing up your look, dressing down business, and providing a wider variety of options.

As far as neckwear goes, it’s a great time to live in. Unfortunately, our standard knots don’t function as well when introducing thick textured fabrics into the mix.

The Nicky knot is a brother of the Pratt, creating a symmetrical, moderate sized knot. Textured wool ties look fantastic, but you’re stuck using a Four in Hand because of the tie’s thickness.

If you wanted to pair a wool tie with a semi-spread collar you’d be stuck with an asymmetrical Four in Hand knot hanging far between the collar. Some may try to make use of a Windsor, but a 2.5 inch tie isn’t wide enough to cover all the crossovers in the knot, as shown above.

A better option is The Nicky, a symmetrical knot that will fill the semi-spread collar, without causing a lot of bulk with the wool’s thickness. The Nicky is achieved in only six moves, compared to the Windsor’s nine.

Thomas Fink describes the origin of the Nicky in his book, The Man’s Book, “The earliest-known description of the Nicky is by Italian tie-shop owner Ernesto Curami. It was rediscovered by David Kelsall as an improvement on the Pratt knot and reported in the Sunday telegraph in 1991.”

»How to Tie a Nicky Tie Knot


The Tie Bar

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.

  • http://usedhondacivic.us/feed Julie Hayes

    Frequently I am doing the tie knot of my husband just to show my sweetness on him. =) I am sure he will be surprised on this new style of knotting.

  • ella

    wow that’s really pretty, i’m totally going to ask my husband to try that today

  • http://thedragfreedrift.blogspot.com/ Trev

    I have been using this knot for around a year now. It is my standard for most shirts and ties. Never really needed a Windsor with my skinny neck.

    Easy to tie, and better looking than a 4-in-Hand. Thanks for spreading the news.

  • PZ

    I am pretty sure that this is just a half-windsor, no?

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Hey PZ,

    The Nicky begins upside down, versus the half windsor (and windsor, four in hand, etc.) which begins right side up. The moves are similar, but they are different.

    For more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Windsor_knot

    and from Fink’s encyclopedia of knots which dives into more detail:
    http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~tmf20/tieknots.shtml

  • Jo

    Just had a visual of my dad’s silk tie collection back in the 80′s. I really like this wool tie – slim and elegant

  • http://www.thegasgrillreviews.com Jim

    I always have problems with my tie looking too fat on the top part, sometimes revealing the insides just like the one you showed in the Windsor knot. Would definitely try this nicky tie. looks nice and neat though.

  • Max K

    Awesome! Love this.

  • shahar

    Thank you for sharing – very important information for me.

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  • Jon

    Hey Andrew, great job. This knot looks absolutely fantastic. I seem to be having a really tough time getting the shape though… In the picture above, it has this great curved tapering to the edge, but whenever I try it, especially with a heavier silk tie, I can’t seem to achieve that same shape. Any advice??

    -Jon

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Jon, Try pinching the bottom while you tighten it.

  • Bea

    Would this knot look good with a bulkier tie? And how do you make sure the dimple comes out fine?

  • http://www.likehomeagain.com Eric

    Maybe I wasn’t using the right tie for this knot, but I really couldn’t make this one work for me.