Windsor, half-Windsor, four-in-hand: a clash between speed and style

Austin Zhuang ’22

The conversation first started on a Tuesday afternoon. School had just come to a close, and a select few were unwinding in Severinghaus when someone remarked on neckwear. The innocent observation started confusion, and that confusion grew to open hostility as each person defended how they chose to wear the piece of fabric hanging around their neck.

Those who visit the library regularly have seen the four factions on the whiteboard next to the staircase. The half-Windsor, Windsor, and double Windsor duked it out for the best tie knot, while the bowtie sought to take them all down. Democracy chose a tie with a half-Windsor knot as the best kind of neckwear for school, with countless students showing their support. But is it as great as the vote makes it seem?

Most would agree that when it comes to the dress code, function over form prevails. And after further research, it turned out that the “half-Windsor” was mistaken for the four-in-hand knot, which is also known as the schoolboy knot due to its simplicity but lack of formality. Naturally, the four-in-hand knot had the most support in the community because it fulfills the dress code requirements most simply.

And anyone can learn a new tie knot without much effort.

Subsequent research also showed that the Windsor knot is actually the half-Windsor, and the double Windsor is simply known as the full Windsor knot, though the name double Windsor is still correct. These (along with the bow tie, which had no support from students) were far less common than the four-in-hand because they require more time to tie, and the average Haverford student is willing to give up style for speed. 

The answer seems clear; the simpler knot is the best knot for school.

Students practice different knots in Severinghaus library – Mr. Josh Newman

But those who wear the more complicated knots, myself included, believe that our choices are more than justified. To start, tying the same knot day in and day out makes the few extra steps take little to no extra time. Once the knot’s complexity is not an issue, the benefits to wearing the half-Windsor or full Windsor knots outweigh the costs. Being more formal, they are acceptable in almost every context outside of school, whether it be a wedding or party. The formality also conveys professionalism, making a first impression in job interviews just a bit better.

Most students do not have formal events or the job search at the forefront of their minds when they go to school every day. And anyone can learn a new tie knot without much effort. But practice makes perfect, and in a few years, tying a Windsor knot in high school might let you sleep just a little longer before work.