The Modern Gentleman has a critical decision to make when tying his tie

Prince William Necktie

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

That's a tight necktie knot, your highness.

Soft? Or snug?

These are your choices when it comes to forming a knot for your necktie.Advertisement

But it doesn have to be that way.

Here's an example of the snug technique:

Snug Tie Knot Skitch

Business Insider/Getty Images

The knot, pulled snug to the collar, looks like a mistake, but it's intentional. The slight bit of extra space visible between the collar points and knot are a function of the small, tight knot.Advertisement

Here's what the alternative, "soft" knot looks like:

Soft Tie Knot Skitch

Business Insider/Getty Images

The guy in the photo is the French politician Dominique de Villepin, and he's rocking numerous elite French sartorial elements. The overall vibe is conservative, with a gray suit, the pale blue striped shirt, and the monochromatic tie. But then there's the flamboyant hair. Crazy French intellectual politician hair! Notice as well that the picture is of a sort of stately ease. This is a man who can wear power, and clothes, with an imposing, relaxed confidence. That's a hallmark of the soft approach, which is topped off by the gently, almost loosely knotted tie: official, but not constricting. Advertisement

This is something that continentals of a certain age do preposterously well.

American men who know what they're doing split the difference, but they still tend to aim for a snug look. For example:

Split Difference Tie Knot Skitch

Business Insider/Getty Images


So there you have it. You probably think you have to go snug. But you don't! A necktie doesn't need to choke. In fact, if the Modern Gentleman chooses soft, he can almost forget that it's there.

NOW WATCH: How one simple mistake cost 'Real Housewives' superstar Bethenny Frankel millions