The pedigree of the four-in-hand is impeccable.
As the cravat of the British Regency gave way to more practical
forms of neckwear, the long tie was adopted and along with it the
By the 1860s the style had become fashionable and both the tie and
the knot have had a substantial following ever since.
The four-in-hand most likely derives its name from the
nineteenth-century London gentlemen's club by the same name.
Patrons of the Four-in-Hand Club adopted the long tie knotted in the
new style and the Club's name was soon used to describe it.
As explained in Chapter 1, it has also been suggested
that `four-in-hand' originates from the four-in-hand carriage
(drawn by a team of four horses driven by one man) in use at the time.
Some argue that the knot was used in tying the reigns
of the horses, others that the drivers tied their scarves in the same way.
In any event, the word does not, as some will have concluded,
describe the four moves needed to tie it.
When the trend-setting Prince of Wales, later the Duke of Windsor,
took a liking to large tie knots in the 1930s it did not go unnoticed.
Within years men everywhere wore ties
`fastened with the popular Windsor knot, larger
than the usual four-in-hand, to fill the space of the wide spread collar',
wrote Esquire in 1940. Discarding the ubiquitous four-in-hand (2)
in favour of the larger knot was, at the
time, a conspicuous gesture. But it was an elegant one, and the knot has
never really fallen out of fashion since.
Unlike its name suggests, the half-Windsor is not half the size of the
Windsor but rather three-quarters.
This casts suspicion on the other half of its etymology:
there is no evidence that the half-Windsor derived from the Windsor,
though the authors have yet to learn of the half-Windsor's use before the
Apart from the long-established four-in-hand, half-Windsor and
Windsor, the Pratt (sometimes known as the Shelby) is the
only knot which has received widespread attention.
It was revealed in The New York Times and
The Daily Telegraph in 1989.
Jerry Pratt, its American inventor, used the knot for
thirty years before Don Shelby publicised it on local television.
Before the Pratt became prominent, it was occasionally worn in America
from as early as World War II, usually under the name of reverse
half-Windsor. This name is misleading (not to mention long-winded);
the Pratt is no more the reverse of the half-Windsor than the
half-Windsor is half of the Windsor.
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