FT Guide: How to tie a Balthus Knot

We’ve spoken about the Balthus knot before, but only in passing and hidden amongst other knots.

Which is a shame, because the Balthus knot is a show-stopping knot.

A knot that puts all other knots to shame.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t the Balthus know have its own blog post?

Well, now it does.

The FT Guide to: the Balthus Knot:

Hannibal balthus knot

If you’re of the ‘go hard or go home’ mentality when it comes to tie knots, then the Balthus knot is the knot for you.

This knot was originally based on the knot style of the French-Polish controversial artist Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, known as Balthus in the early-and-mid-20th Century.

Recently, it’s had a bit of a resurgence, as it was the knot of choice for everybody’s favourite consumer of human flesh; Hannibal Lector (played by the ever-stylish Mads Mikkelson) in the TV series Hannibal.

The Balthus Knot:

We’ve said it before, but you could quite easily call this knot the quadruple-Windsor. The knot is an absolute beast.

And this isn’t a knot for the faint-hearted. It requires a decent whack of confidence to pull off – it screams: ‘check out my tie’.

(Make sure you’re wearing your best tie, too. We recommend a nice paisley tie.).

When to use the Balthus knot:

Formal occasions where you want to make an impression or stand out.

When to avoid it:

If you’re wearing a two-piece suit, avoid it at all costs. Because of the sheer amount of material used by the knot, the tip of the tie barely reaches the top of your belly button.

Make sure you’re wearing a waistcoat or jumper to hide this, otherwise you’ll be getting looks, but for all of the wrong reasons.

How to tie the Balthus Knot:

Have you ever tried to tie a knot from written instructions?

Take the left loop and move it right then over and under and then back under and then round and then over and through the loop. Pull tight, then loop twice more and pull tight again.

Impossible to follow, right?

(Full disclosure: this hatred of written instructions may or may not be because I was once late to an important corporate event because I was trying to tie a bowtie for the first time using written instructions.)

Instead, we’ve had an illustrator put together an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to tying the tricky Balthus knot.


Or, you could just watch this YouTube video, which does a good job of breaking it down:

Ever rocked (or attempted) the Balthus knot? Or are you more a four-in-the-hand, no nonsense guy? Let us know in the comments below.