Q: Will you run a diagram of just how to tie a Windsor knot, and what a double Windsor is? I'm ashamed. I'm 60 and don't even know how to tie one. I don't want my smart-aleck brother-in-law to know.
A: Not knowing how to tie a Windsor knot is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially not now, when it is less the rage. The reason: A full Windsor knot is too fat and bulky for today's clothes.
Several years ago, suit lapels got narrower, shirt collars got shorter, and ties grew proportionately slimmer. To achieve a logical balance, the smaller necktie knot -- "the four-in-hand" -- returned to favor. This is the old-fashioned knot that your father used to wear.
The three best known and most commonly worn necktie knots are:
*Four-in-hand: The smallest, most common knot. Its tight, elongated shape works with traditional button-down shirts and the newer updated small collars; it is too skimpy to fill the space between spread collar points. One drawback: it is always somewhat askew.
*Single Windsor -- aka half-Windsor: A more symmetrical triangle; a scaled-down and better proportioned version of the full-Windsor. Ideal for spread collar shirts.
*Double Windsor or Full Windsor: A difficult-to-tie-well, large, bulbous knot. Its many loops tend to make the tie too short (accenting bellies that may not need accenting). Today it appears out of sync with a debonair, crisp look.
If you prefer the Windsor, I urge you to choose the half-Windsor.
Send your questions or comments to Lois Fenton, Today in Style, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Ms. Fenton welcomes questions about men's dress or grooming for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.
Ms. Fenton, the author of "Dress for Excellence" (Rawson Associates, $19.95), conducts wardrobe seminars for Fortune 500 companies around the country.