How to Tie a Pratt Knot

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The Pratt knot, named after Jerry Pratt and popularized by TV personality Don Shelby, is a great all-purpose knot that is simple to tie. In fact, it’s my go-to tie knot for anything but the most formal of settings (and even then, I’d think twice about opting for a Windsor).

What It Looks Like

Example of Pratt (Shelby) Knot

The Pratt knot is great because it is simple to tie and produces a medium-sized, slightly asymmetric knot. This is important if you want James Bond to trust you. Even if you’re not trying to gain favor with international spies, the knot strikes an ideal balance between carefree and try-hard. Plus, at least in my experience, it makes getting the perfect dimple in the middle of your tie just so easy.

How to Tie the Pratt Knot

The Pratt Knot


One thing you’ll notice when trying out this knot is that, unlike many other tie knots, the Pratt knot starts out with the tie facing reverse-side out. This also means that the tail end will remain facing reverse-side out even once the knot is tied. A quirk, yes, but nothing more. If you’re used to Windsors and other knots, this one should seem pretty straightforward. Even if you’re not an expert at knot tying, the Pratt is hard to mess up.

Step One: Hang the tie over your neck, reverse-side out. I’ve found that lining up the tip of the wide end with the bottom of the crotch of your pants produces a finished product that hits right at the belt line. You may need to adjust it a bit depending on your personal body proportions and tying habits, but that should still hold as a rule of thumb.

Step Two: Cross the wide end of the tie under the tail end.

Step Three + Four: Wrap the wide end around the narrow end entirely, so that it is again pointing down (and still reverse-side forward).

Step Five: Bring the wide end of the tie across the front of the knot. The front-facing side of the tie should be facing forward as it crosses.

Step Six: Pull the wide end under, then up through the space between the knot and your neck.

Step Seven: Thread the wide end through the knot, directly behind the section of tie brought across in step five.

Step Eight: Pull on the wide end of the tie to cinch the knot. Slide the knot up until it is snug against your collar.

How to Wear It

Since the Pratt knot isn’t wrapped the same on both sides, it’s just a touch asymmetrical, but you can either correct or exaggerate that fact by molding the knot with your fingers. What this means is that the Pratt knot is versatile, and you can pull off a look anywhere between devil-may-care and sharp-dressed-man. Play up the asymmetry and opt for a skinny tie if you’re the type of person who wears sunglasses with a suit. If you’re going for a business lunch, tidy it up and make sure the dimple is centered on your tie and doesn’t have any wrinkles in it.

In keeping with the theme of versatility, the Pratt knot works well will a number of collars types. Go for a point or semi-spread collar to give you some flexibility. As a medium-sized knot, the Pratt might get overwhelmed by a traditional-width tie. Consider opting for ties that are under 3.25″ in width.

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