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What Exactly is a Four-in-Hand?

If you’ve ever heard of the term four-in-hand, you probably think it’s a type of necktie knot. And you’d be right. But it’s not only the knot, it’s also the actual necktie itself. But before it was either of these, it was a horse carriage, introduced in England in the mid-1860s.

The first four-in-hand was a carriage pulled by four horses and rigged in such a way that it could be driven by a single driver. In fact, with the four-in-hand carriage, a solo driver could handle all four horses by holding all their reins in one hand, thus the name four-in-hand.

Okay, so how do we get from carriages to neckties? Apparently young English aristocrats would race around in these new four-in-hand carriages. And it was these same English gentlemen who embraced a brand new style of necktie. Unlike the cravats of previous eras (think elaborate floppy bowties), these new neckties were long and relatively simple, making them faster and easier to tie. And since this new tie (and the new knot that came with it) didn't have a name of its own, they just started calling it the four-in-hand, obviously borrowed from the name of the speedy new carriage.

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