Half Windsor, full Windsor, bow-tie, four-in-hand…. If you recognize these as different types of necktie knots, you are substantially ahead of most guys, who struggle to master one style. Some of us may dare to attempt to learn a different style, only to give up after a few choke-inducing twists of fabric. At this stage, we go back to the trusty knot we learned early in life, or we abandon knots altogether and go for the trust clip-on. If you really wanted to gain proficiency over the necktie, just how many knots would you have to master? According to a recently-published study, a lot more than you might imagine.
According to a study published in the January 2014 issue of PeerJ Computer Science, there are 177,147 distinct tie knots that can be tied with a normal necktie. The study (available here) was conducted by Dan Hirsch, Meredith L. Patterson, Anders Sandberg, and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson. It challenged the 1999 study by Cambridge mathematicians Yong Mao and Thomas Fink, who concluded there were a mere 85 possible ways to tie a tie.
The researchers not only spell out their findings in the study, but they have also created a random tie knot generator if you want to experiment with different styles.
On a side note, it is well known among the predominately-male Commonplace household that the reason men have to wear ties is to make up for the fact that we don’t have to go through the pain of childbirth.
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