going the Full Windsor

For East­er Sun­day I wore my most for­mal shirt, part­ly in hon­our of the absolute pin­na­cle of the litur­gi­cal year cel­e­brat­ing the Res­ur­rec­tion of the Sec­ond Per­son of the Trin­i­ty from the tomb after His igno­min­ious redemp­tive Death upon the Cross, and part­ly because almost all of my oth­er dress shirts were in the laun­dry bas­ket. This shirt is a very nice white French cuff mod­el from Lands End, and I acces­sorised with a pair of vin­tage cuff links that my wife had pro­cured for me a few years ago.

But this par­tic­u­lar shirt, in addi­tion to hav­ing French cuffs, which I love, also sports a spread col­lar, which means a great big expanse at the front of my neck that needs a gigan­tic tie knot to fill it. In oth­er words, I had to tie a full Wind­sor knot on East­er morn­ing, some­thing I have not done since I wore this same shirt to our friends’ wed­ding about four years ago. It is not some­thing I keep fresh among my reper­toire of neck­wear prac­tices (although I sup­pose I would be a bet­ter per­son if I did).

No cri­sis, though: I love fol­low­ing direc­tions, and as I have suc­cess­ful­ly adorned myself in this fash­ion in the past, I would sim­ply repeat the prop­er steps and be ready for the day. Except I believe I lent my handy book of man-style to my broth­er some time ago, and it has not as of yet returned to my cus­tody. Well… I guess that is what the Inter­net is for, right?

For those of you read­ing this who have nev­er tied a knot from a dia­gram, it is not typ­i­cal­ly the sim­plest of tasks. The lim­its of the medi­um — two-dimen­sion­al, the least pos­si­ble num­ber of actu­al fig­ures — often push the instruc­tions toward the arcane if not actu­al­ly inscrutable. But I have been avid­ly explor­ing my neck­wear pos­si­bil­i­ties for a long time now, and the con­ven­tions of the genre are suf­fi­cient­ly com­fort­able to me.

So imag­ine my con­ster­na­tion when the first promis­ing set of visu­al instruc­tions my Google search yield­ed proved to not only start with the wide end of the tie on the right rather than the cus­tom­ary left (an inno­va­tion I decid­ed I could tol­er­ate), but flew in the face of all pro­pri­ety by pre­sent­ing the fig­ure in mir­ror image, that is, the way it would appear to the neck­tie wear­er in the mir­ror as he attempt­ed to fol­low these same (increas­ing­ly-eccen­tric) instruc­tions. While a clever idea, and cer­tain­ly one born of the best of inten­tions, this is sim­ply not how the thing is done, and my mind almost explod­ed try­ing to adjust to the back­ward for­ward­ness of what I expect­ed to be for­ward back­ward­ness. But I strug­gled on fruit­less­ly until I realised that the instruc­tions were actu­al­ly for a half Wind­sor knot.

I went to the Brooks Broth­ers web­site after that, and was pre­sentable in rel­a­tive­ly short order. Style is a ten­u­ous under­tak­ing, and dif­fi­cult enough to car­ry off under even the most ide­al con­di­tions. Such blun­der­ing sab­o­tage as these bizarre knot instruc­tions are a haz­ard hard­ly to be tol­er­at­ed in a civilised society.

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