You get an invitation.
A friend’s wedding in the middle of summer…
An outdoor venue…
The dress code is casual.
So you’re thinking a tan-colored suit, a pair of brown monk straps…
Wait…should you wear a necktie?
On one hand…it’s not a formal or business event. So you can go tieless.
Then again…what if people think you’re lazy and inept? Or they say you’re trying too hard to look edgy?
Uh-oh…this is a tough decision.
But I’ll make it easy for you:
The suit-without-a-tie works if you make it STYLISH…if people see you and think “Looking good!” instead of “Where’s your tie?”
This article gives you 5 tips on how to accomplish that.
First…Is It An Appropriate Time To Wear A Suit & No Tie?
This is the question you want to ask before doing anything. Why? There’s a time and there’s a place for everything…including the different ways a man can dress.
Let’s say you’re fresh out of law school. You have a great MBE score, great recommendation letters, and now you’re applying to a well-respected law firm. Would you NOT wear a tie with your suit to your interview? It just seems…wrong.
Wear a suit & necktie to any formal/professional setting. Are those settings always clearly defined? No, but think carefully about the occasion (you definitely shouldn’t go tieless if it’s a meeting with shareholders, investors or high-profile clients). Then consider the company culture. Consider your professional image.
If you’re a doctor, lawyer or banker in a bustling big city…it’s almost taboo to ditch the tie for work. A guy who sells neckties at Bergdorf Goodman confirms that. He says a couple of years ago, some New York offices tried making their dress codes more casual but the trend didn’t last. The khakis-and-polo combo that some men tried didn’t help things. So they went back to the good old suit and dress shirt with a tie. The dress codes weren’t broken and needed no fixing.
Certain places also require a suit and tie to match their aesthetics. Fancy restaurants and classical music venues would require (or men assume they’d need) to dress up like this. Make sure you’ve done your research before going to those places.
Anywhere else – you can opt to go tieless. This is where it gets interesting. Think of events like cocktail parties, the opening day of an art gallery, and a casual summer wedding outdoors. Those are times you can bend the rules…with stylishness.
Certain jobs (those that have you sit behind a desk without facing customers) also permit a tieless suit. Warm weather generally makes it more acceptable. But regardless, the real challenge is making this outfit look sharp – not sloppy. Not like something you just threw on because you were running late.
Up to the challenge? Then follow these 5 tips on how to rock a suit with no tie…
Tieless Suit Tip #1 – Wear A Casual Suit or Shirt
The main “booby trap” with going tieless is you might come off as lazy because the outfit looks incomplete. Especially if you’ve got a formal shirt and suit/jacket.
That’s why you want a lighter color for the suit fabric (forget navy and charcoal gray). See if you can get something less structured or with slimmer notch lapels. The goal is to for the jacket to stand out more…and make the absence of a necktie less obvious.
Some good options for dress shirt fabric are the classic Oxford and button-downs made of denim, chambray or patterned fabric. The more contrast it has with the jacket (as in complementary colors) the better the result.
Tieless Suit Tip #2 – Get The Suit/Jacket Tailored
Fit becomes even more important in this case. If you show everyone how amazing your body looks – and they’re wondering if it’s a special jacket that doesn’t go with a necktie – then you’ve aced the test.
There’s no better way to achieve this than by finding a good tailor. The right tailor will figure out the proper fit for your jacket on the sides, width, sleeves, and shoulders.
They’ll make sure the waistband of the pants is correct and the legs don’t bunch up over the shoes. The trend these days is to expose a little of the socks when you’re standing…so pay attention to your socks too.
Take note there’s a difference between suits and blazers/sports coats. A suit comprises both a jacket and trousers (made from the same fabric). You’re free to have a blazer or sports coat tailored and wear it without a tie. But apply the same stuff in tip #1.
Tieless Suit Tip #3 – Show A Great-Looking Collar
If there’s one area to be most conscious of…it’s the collar of your shirt. The collar replaces the tie in terms of framing your face. It adds definition to your neckline and chin.
How do you get a collar that looks sharp even when 1-2 buttons are down? The secret lies in the placket (the vertical panel that contains the buttons and holes). The problem though is a typical placket isn’t strong enough against the weight of the collar. This causes a flimsy, gaping collar…which can be an eyesore to some people. This article on strong shirt plackets and collars provides the info to solve the issue.
After dealing with the placket – focus on the collar itself. Steady it using a set of metal, plastic or magnetic collar stays. Remember to iron the collar well after washing the shirt. It also helps to add spray starch before ironing to give the collar more rigor.
Tieless Suit Tip #4 – Unbutton 1 or 2 Shirt Buttons
Ditching the tie means ditching the buttoned-up look. That way it’ll seem less like something’s missing at the neck.
Ideally, you have the jacket unbuttoned completely but you can leave just one button on. The real task is deciding whether to unbutton 1 or 2 buttons of your shirt.
If you unbutton 2 – it creates a more daring, casual appearance. But don’t forget your environment, audience, and the occasion. At times 2 might be too arbitrary and 1 would be better.
Some important reminders when you wear your shirt unbuttoned:
- Keep your undershirt hidden – The undershirt is supposed to insulate you, absorb moisture and help smooth the torso…but an undershirt shouldn’t be seen beneath your dress shirt. So go for a V-neck type instead of a crew neck.
- Avoid showing chest hair – For guys with chest hair, I recommend you trim it when it starts getting thick or out of control (no need to shave completely). You want to maintain a clean, polished look even when your neckline is exposed.
Tieless Suit Tip #5 – Make Use Of Accessories
This last one teaches you to work on your style as a whole. Since the necktie is MIA…all other accessories will draw more attention than usual. Don’t neglect them.
- Pocket square: Use a light-colored pocket square and make a nice pocket square fold. Then place it in your pocket with ¼-½ of an inch of fabric exposed. Simple but powerful.
- Lapel pin: This modern accessory brings in more uniqueness. Just make sure the pin isn’t too flashy that it distracts from everything else.
- Watch: You’ll want a watch that matches your shoes and belt (particularly to keep the color of the leather band consistent with those items).
- Bracelet: Some guys wear traditional metal bracelets while others have gone for more modern types like Shamballa or beaded bracelets. Try getting one that matches the other metals you wear.
- Cufflinks: Cufflinks allow you to stand out in a subtle way. They’re technically male jewelry yet very functional…so there’s no shame in buying ones that complement your suit.
- Shoes: Be mindful to choose the right shoe color for your suit. Regular shoe polishing is also a must.
In the end, the tieless suit isn’t a bad choice at all. It’s true that we’re used to seeing the suit jacket and necktie go hand in hand…the same way people like a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly. But have you ever tried a sandwich with just the peanut butter and no jelly? If you have…then you should know it’s pretty good too.
So don’t be afraid to go tieless for your next social event. All the tips I’ve mentioned will help you sell the look – and convince people it’s a deliberate style choice that really, really works. And there’s one more rule you ought to follow: be confident! Own your individual style with pure confidence…because that makes the clothing you wear even more attractive.
Are you keen on learning more about style? How to maximize confidence wherever you go, whatever you’re wearing? Or do you need a little help to launch a business online? Then you’d love to join Menfluential 2018.
This 2-day conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia in February and it’s not just a series of lectures. You’ll meet some of today’s most stylish men and influential figures – Aaron Marino, Sven Raphael Schneider, Ryan Masters & others – and bond with them the whole time. So you don’t want to miss this great event (LIMITED tickets available).