Knigge says: the tie shows who you are

Etiquetteer says, 'The tie shows who you are. Show me your tie knot and I'll tell you who you are. (Source: Thinkstock by Getty Images)

Ties are a man"s thing. They reveal a lot about the wearer, according to book author, speaker and consultant Moritz Freiherr Knigge. Knigge explains what really matters when choosing and wearing a tie and which models are teetering on the edge of tastelessness. You can find instructions on how to tie a tie correctly here.

Tie Knigge

The great Windsor knot (source:

Photo series with 13 pictures

If there is one constant in men’s fashion, it is the tie: men have been wearing them for 200 years. Today, the tie belongs to the man’s neck like the beard belongs to the cheeks. "It is a part of men’s clothing, unencumbered by fashion and not a subject of a trend", says Moritz Freiherr Knigge. His ancestor is the naturalist, writer and Enlightenment philosopher Adolph Freiherr Knigge, whose still-famous work "On Dealing with People" is one of his most important works was expanded after his death by the publisher into an etiquette bible.

Tie as a sign of appropriateness

For Moritz Freiherr Knigge, wearing a tie is a natural part of everyday life. For him, the important thing is not to fulfill the etiquette in every nuance, but to understand the tie as a visible part of the self. "Polite people are capable of appropriateness", he emphasizes. And if it is appropriate to wear it at the meeting

with customers, in front of an audience or for an elegant dinner, then it is tied.

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For those who see ties as an annoying evil, he recommends something very simple: "If you’re not sure if it’s necessary, ask the people inviting or in charge beforehand." But in many conversations about the right style in his seminars, he said, he has learned that many men are embarrassed by exactly that – one would reveal not to understand anything about labels. For him the opposite is true: "To inform oneself about the appropriate clothing is never embarrassing", he emphasizes. For Moritz Freiherr Knigge, this can be solved in a completely uncomplicated way: "Wear a tie!", he says. If you are the only tie-wearer among a hundred guests, it doesn’t take ten seconds and it is in your jacket pocket."

Shirt closed or open?

If it’s necessary, it’s down to the nitty gritty: knots, combination with shirt and suit, color selection. Many men are overwhelmed by this.

A tie tells Moritz Freiherr Knigge much more about the wearer than the annoyed etiquette convicts with the rope around their necks would like. "I can look at men when they don’t wear the tie voluntarily", he tells. Sometimes the top shirt button remains open, the tie sits loosely. This is the wrong decision for Knigge. "When I wear a tie, I wear it right. The shirt is closed, the knot fits well. Or decide not to wear it. So it is consistent and clear."

When it comes to shirt and tie combinations, for which thousands of rules can be found in books and on the Internet, he calmly waves them off. "That is not so important. Only the colors have to match." With one exception: "You don’t wear a tie with a button-down shirt. Never." This, they say, is a casual sports shirt – and therefore not suitable for the combination. In addition, the shirt must fit well at the neck. "Those who wear a tie only out of compulsion often find that the top button is too tight. The wearer is annoyed by it. You can see immediately that he is only following a rule that makes no sense to him."

The shape of the knot is not important – it’s the length that counts

Otherwise, the assignment is logical and simple: if you prefer large tie knots, don’t wear shirts whose collars are tightly cut. And vice versa. Wide knots go well with shark and London collars, but those who prefer narrow tab collars should forego the voluminous windsor collar, for example. In total, there are about 180 known tie knots and variations. For Knigge, however, the rules for the perfect knot for the occasion have no meaning: "For many years I have tied only the ‘double simple knot’, even at elegant dinners." For him, only the end is important: "The tip of the tie touches the upper edge of the trousers." A few aspects of knot selection are still worth a look: If you like wider ties made of thick fabric, the double-knotted Windsor can be quite bulky on the neck. But if you are two meters long, this Windsor can make your tie too short.

Wide knots are more suitable for men with broad chest and muscle design from the gym than for desk men. A well-fitting, simple knot in a light fabric is the best choice here. With them make the simple "Four-in-hand"-Knots or a half Windsor a good figure. Clean craftsmanship is also important: "No matter which knot you choose – it has to fit", sums up Knigge. The thin side should never be longer than the wide side, even with shorter body measurements. And if it happens, let it disappear under the second shirt button behind the fabric.

Just no painted ties!

The question of design remains. The style expert is relaxed about this too. "It depends on what you like to wear." For many years, he has preferred sevenfold Bulgari ties made of silk and cotton, but he also likes to wear knit ties – preferably made of cashmere. "I like to have it colorful, dark suits are not my thing", he emphasizes. The tie is part of the combination that represents the individual, he explains. Despite all the style guidelines in the milieus, there is plenty of scope for the ego. If you are unsure about the choice of colors for very dignified occasions: "Then do without intensive patterns and bright colors." There’s only one thing he can’t wear: painted ties: "Techies wear models with processors, others go to meetings with cartoon characters, cacti or half-naked women. This has nothing to do with style. This is the edge of tastelessness."

You can find all the important dress codes and etiquette rules for tying ties in our photo show.

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