A Knot For All Occasions – The Pratt aka Shelby

Pratt knot

For a man to be truly well dressed he should know a variety of tie knots. Each knot has its merits and should be chosen according to the width and weight of the tie, the type of shirt collar you are wearing and the formality of the occasion. Sadly, most men still only know the Four-in-Hand, which they were taught at school.

So let me introduce you to one of my favourites, the Pratt Knot. Versatile and easy to tie, it can be worn at both formal and informal events. The knot forms an elegant triangle reminiscent of a Half Windsor but smaller and more discreet. The width of the knot means it should be paired with a cutaway or semi-cutaway collar for best effect. The Pratt works with wider ties made from light to medium weight fabric, giving width at the collar without the mass of something like a Windsor. It also produces the perfect dimple for an extra sartorial flourish.

The Pratt or Shelby knot get’s its name from Jerry Pratt (an employee of the US Chamber of Commerce) and Don Shelby (an experienced journalist and TV personality).  The story goes that during an interview Pratt insisted Shelby let him retie his necktie.  Shelby then tried it himself and was shocked at how easy it was to tie and produce a neat dimple. Shelby wore the knot so often on TV, that it got attributed to him.

Although, this may have been the case in the US, Italian tailors had been using the knot since the 1920s where it was known as “nodo alla milanese”, (The Milanese Knot). Whatever the origins, the Pratt should be one of your staple knots. Memorise it and it will serve you well in most if not all situations.

Name:The Pratt Knot
The Pratt Knot
The Shelby Knot
The Pratt Shelby Knot

Level of Difficulty:

Recommended Collar:

Preferred Width of Tie:

How to Tie a Pratt (aka Shelby) Knot


Step 1:

Turn the tie so the underside is facing forward and allow the wide end to hang a foot lower than the narrow end. Cross the narrow over the wide end to create three regions: Left, Right and Centre.

Step 2:

Bring the wide end up to the Centre.

Step 3 :

Bring the wide end down to the left.

Step 4:

Wrap the wide end around to the right.

Step 5:

Pass the wide end under the narrow part from Right to Center.

Step 6:

Before tucking the wide end down through the loop and ensuring the knot is tightened.

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