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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