Are There Many Different Ways to Tie a Tie?

If you have trouble tying a Windsor knot, this is probably not the story for you. But because mathematicians are hardwired to figure out such things, to the nth degree, Swedish math whiz Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson decided we needed to know exactly how many variations are possible when deciding which knot to use when tying a tie.

Just one of the 177,147 ways that mathematicians have found to tie a necktie.
Just one of the 177,147 ways that mathematicians have found to tie a necktie.

The answer, his team of academics determined, is that there are 177,147 different ways to make your neck look business-like, including knots that feature the narrow end of a normal tie. So if you're bored with the buttoned-up corporate look, at least there are options.

You can use Johansson's "random tie knot generator" to discover the seemingly endless ways to tie a tie -- with a step-by-step diagram for each and every knot.

Tied up in knots:

  • This 2014 solution to an unforeseen problem bests the 1999 results of Cambridge mathematicians Yong Mao and Thomas Fink, who determined that there are 85 possible ways to tie a tie. But who’s counting?

  • The necktie originated in the 17th century during a 30-year war in France. The uniform of Croatian mercenaries brought in to fight by King Louis XIII featured a piece of cloth tied around the neck. The king liked the look, and made “La Cravate” a mandatory accessory at all royal gatherings.

  • In the late 20th century, a tieless Casual Friday was created in many workplaces. Its origins come from Hawaii’s custom of Aloha Friday, which spread to California and beyond in the 1990s.

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