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85 Knots: Day 3 – The Onassis

by Paul Creech on Monday, January 27, 2014

The Onassis is a ballsy tie knot. Fair warning, you may not be able to pull this off. The Onassis is really Day 2’s four-in-hand knot except that you don’t tie the knot in end by slipping the big end down through the flap that will be the face of the knot, rather you allow it to lay on top of the knot.  The Encyclopedia of Tie Knots adds an addition step, having you tie the tie and then pull the big end around and over again, but it is unnecessary and doesn’t look nearly as good  (it is pictured here as the traditional).

[dropcap]The[/dropcap] Onassis is named for the second husband of the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, he is where the Onassis in her name comes from.  He was a Greek shipping magnate, which means European sophistication and style, and lots of money.  Aristotle Onassis (yes, Aristotle) the namesake of this tie knot, was a fashion icon who collected those truly fashionable things, like Jack Kennedy’s wife–the queen of America’s Camelot.  People with big, Scrooge McDuck sized, piles of money can do whatever they want, including not tucking their tie through the loop.  This knot may be the most pretentious thing I have ever worn (and I was a Fraternity President in college), but I think I found a way to do it in a more modern way than the sail boat billionaire.  This knot has never been a fashion must, and was never widely popular (hipsters pay attention!).  To prove me wrong–recently the great San Francisco Giant, Willie Mays, rocked it when he met with the President.  The iphone/ipad app How to Tie a Tie Pro ($2.99) contains step by step instructions on how to tie the Onassis (You may upgrade to Pro from an  in-app purchase in the Free version).

The old school way to wear this knot is to just lay it over the knot flat, and let it hang low so you can see the flat line the fold over makes with the top button exposed.  You may do this with the extra wrap after you tie a long four in hand, or by just laying in over instead of tucking it.  The Onassis looks lonely without its knot, but a tie pin (but not a bar I think) worn very high on the tie (from the 2nd button to the 3rd) would jazz it up a bit.  Jazzing things up is important.  When you get jazzed up you can go paint the town red and  boogie-woogie, bebop, and jitterbug the night away.

My way is pull the knot tight up in the collar, and to pinch it so that it gets the conical shape of the four-in-hand knot (day 2)–the base of this knot.  We’ll call my way the modern way since a google image search has turned up others wearing the knot as I do. You are going to have keep pinching the knot throughout the day to keep the shape right, because a good tie will keep trying to flatten out.  Pinching is really not good for your ties, but it’s better than tie knots are for it.

You may Onassis-ize any tie knot by simply not tucking it through the loop, do so at your own risk.

The reaction to this knot was more of, “What is going on with your tie?” response, rather than the recognition that I was trying to pull off something brilliant–recognition I deserved.  In conservative dress professions (as opposed to a profession of political or social conservatives) this tie knot is a stretch.  I would never appear before a judge or meet with a client wearing this knot.  I think I would rock it to church, or to a dressy social occasion, and I would consider wearing this to an event where I want to be noticed.  If you need a gimmick for a networking event, this may be an option for you.  If you want to stand out and you have the personality to wear this knot without knowing each-and-every-second that you’re trying to pull something off, then get noticed with the Onassis.  Done right, as I have done it, I think you can get a stunning effect.  Compare the modern take with the traditional. But choose wisely, for while the true Onassis will bring you life, the false Onassis will take it from you.

[box_light]Shirt and tie by Express. Suit by JoS. A. Banks.[/box_light]

Paul Creech
Paul Creech is an attorney living in Houston, Texas. Paul has baccalaureate degrees in philosophy and political science from Utah State University, and a juris doctorate degree from Houston College of Law. He is a former U.S. Marine. Besides the law, Paul's interests include sports, art, and food.

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