To get it just right, you've got to pay attention to a few key points. Once you know 'em, getting a perfect knot every time will be second habit.
Always Use a Four In Hand Knot
It's simple, elegant, and rakishly asymmetrical. You'll never, ever go wrong with one, no matter what kind of tie or shirt collar you're rocking.
Windsor knots, on the other hand, tend to look too clunky and triangular. But don't take it from us, take it from James Bond. In From Russia With Love, Fleming wrote:
“It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”
As for any other showy variant, avoid them like the plague. It'll look costume-y and peculiar, rather than confident and classic.
The End of Your Tie Should Hit at Your Belt
Any longer, and you'll look sloppy. Any shorter, and you'll look like a kid playing dress up.
Even if you have to re-tie yours five times to get it just right, don't walk out the door until your tie is the perfect length.
Add a Dimple
Want an extra hit of subtle style? Pinch the top of your tie together as you're tightening the knot. It'll add a small dimple to the topmost part of your tie, just under the knot.
It's not necessary by any stretch, but it is an extra sharp detail that'll give your tie that extra something without being too bold.
Mind the Short Side
The front side of your tie is more important, but make sure the rear side of your tie is the right length, too.
You don't want it to be longer than the front side, but you also don't want the rear side to be so short that you can't slip it through the tie's label to keep the sides together.
If you're working with an especially short tie and getting the right length means that the rear side is way short, add a tie bar to clip both sides together.