You look at yourself in the mirror.
Suit looks great.
Shirt looks awesome.
Now the question…
Tie? Or no tie?
It's a harder question than it seems.
Everyone else will be wearing one.
But you're not a tie guy.
And does your shirt collar really look great without a tie?
Gentleman, in today's article, I am going to address those questions.
In addition, I am going to give you 5 points on how to wear a suit, sports coat, and blazer without a tie and look like a million bucks.
Note: A suit is when a jacket and trousers are made of the same fabric. Many modern gentlemen are wearing sports coats or blazers and generally the rules still apply.
For this article, I am going to use the terms jacket, sport coat, blazer and suit interchangeably.
#1 The Proper Environment To Wear A Suit Without A Tie
An accurate environment is everything.
Certain environments require certain aesthetics. Choosing to not wear a necktie might not be viewed favorably and could have a severe penalty. For example, certain high-end restaurants require a jacket and tie or your work environment might dictate that the necessary uniform requires neckwear. Think about the situation.
In any case, make sure to research where you are going before you get there. Be thorough and exhaustive because sticking out like a sore thumb because you’re not in the proper attire would be beyond embarrassing.
If you research and do not get a clear answer and you don’t want to wear a tie, do it with confidence. What’s going to translate to others in that particular establishment is the moxie…the savoir-faire that you portray. Own that you are a metropolitan style savant who is not afraid to make his own statement and not have his contemporary flare boxed in. Many times confidence is seen more clearly than any garment you’re wearing.
#2 The Shirt Collar Is Key
Without a necktie, your collar is what frames your face. It helps give definition to your chin and neckline. What’s going to help make this frame is the placket of the shirt. I go into more detail here but the simple definition of a placket is the panel where the buttons and buttonholes are located.
As our friends over at Million Dollar Collar point out, the placket of a dress shirt is not strong enough to sustain the weight of the collar. So the result is a gaping, flimsy collar that doesn’t look crisp or adequately frame your face. They’ve developed a permanent way to reinforce the placket so that the collar flop doesn’t happen.
After you solve the placket issue, it’s on to the collar. Ways to make the collar taut are:
- Make sure it’s ironed – This should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised. Don’t be afraid to add some spray starch to the collar before ironing to give it some extra rigor.
- Put removable plastic, metal or magnetic collar stays in the collar.
- If possible, budget in dry cleaning and get your shirts lightly or heavily starched.
#3 One Or Two Button Drop?
Since the shirt is not bound by a tie you’re going unbutton the buttons of the shirt. It’s really preferential how many you should unbutton and there are few things to consider before making that decision. It comes down to your confidence level. Points to keep in mind are:
- The message it will send. If you the more buttons you have unbuttoned, the more casual and daring the look will be. You want to be mindful of your environment, audience and the overall mood of the scene.
- The amount of buttons that are on your jacket. If your jacket has more buttons, it’s going to squeeze the shirt together tighter so the shirt’s opening will be closed and look less casual. This is the result of the high button keeping the lapels of the jacket close together and the stiff collar is leaning on those lapels. Conversely, if you are wearing a 1 or 2 button jacket, the opening of the shirt will be wider – giving a more casual look.
#4 Keep Your Undershirt Hidden
Undershirts are important because they can:
- Insulate you
- Protect the over shirt from body oils a and
- Help smooth the torso for a better fitting shirt
The general convention for wearing an undershirt is for it to not be seen. Remember that the open collar helps to frame your face and keep everything looking as streamlined and sleek as possible. Wearing the wrong type of undershirt can crowd the neck and give a bulky illusion. For this reason, wear a v-neck undershirt instead of a crew neck undershirt. The drop of the collar on a v-neck undershirt is perfect for maintaining that polished look.
Note: I am an advocate of trimming and controlling your chest hair. Again, this is totally up to you and based on your comfort level. In my opinion, this step is critical when exposing your neckline. Shaving completely is not necessary, but I recommend keeping it under control.
#5 Focus On Your Other Accessories
The necktie is an accessory that draws the eye in; it’s a focal point. Without the tie, your other accessories become more important. Your accessories such as
- Pocket square – As a generalization, the eyes draw to the face then downward. As such the pocket square is vital to keep the tieless suit as refined as possible. Many gents forego this critical accessory because they simply don’t know how to sport it. It’s really simple. Just get a plain white kerchief or pocket square, make a straight fold, and place it in your pocket with about ¼ to ½ an inch of the pocket square exposed. The compliments will be through the roof gents. Trust me!
- Cufflinks – Make sure that they are a pair that you are confident in and will make a statement. Be careful not to be too gaudy, but a fun pair or a set from granddad that have some history would be great.
- Watch – Your watch should complement your shoes and belt perfectly. The metal on your watch should match the metal on your belt buckle. If your watch is a leather band, the leather should be the same color as your belt and shoes. (This rule is must for any outfit).
- Lapel pin – Since you’re not wearing a tie, this more trendy and modern element can really work well. It’s all about confidence as it’s not a traditional piece. Just make sure that the lapel pin isn’t overpowering the other accessories. Instead, it should compliment it.
- Shoes – Your shoes should be polished and shined. Whether it’s a whole cut, a brogue, a loafer is all depending on what you’re confident in wearing. The whole cut shoe (a shoe that’s made of a single piece of leather) is typically more elegant and refined so it will stand out more with a suit. A loafer will work well too because it’s a casual look. Loafers work especially well with lighter colored suits. However, any well polished, well-made dress shoe will work.
- Bracelets – This too is depending on your confidence level. Some gents opt to wear traditional metal bracelets while others have taken to more modern trends of Shamballa or beaded bracelets. The key to bracelet wearing is keeping them balanced and not creating a busy palate. Remember all metals should be the same on the whole outfit.