Any fashion hotshot worth his cufflinks will tell you that suiting is a major cornerstone of menswear, even if it has been getting both barrels from sportswear and smart-casual dress in recent years. Tailoring won’t go away because it’s a survivor. It’s adaptable. In recent seasons, designers have shown that you can wear suits in a spectrum of fits and with accessories ranging from T-shirts to holsters.
The very simplest way to get more wear from your suit, however, is just to lose the tie. Without a double Windsor to worry about, you can wear your suit with different kinds of collars, different kinds of shirts and different kinds of garments altogether.
Here are five ways to wear a suit without a tie and still look the business.
Try A Camp Collar
Before rock ‘n’ roll came along, mid-century style is mainly remembered for being fairly buttoned up and conservative. That’s a little unfair, however, because the fifties is when the camp collar shirt arrived to shake up stuffy tailoring. The look still works today.
Also known as the Cuban collar or spread collar, its relaxed appearance and often vibrant styling make it a great way to channel your inner pot-bellied Colombian drug lord when paired with a hairy chest and gold jewellery. Still, if you’re aiming more for something closer to La La Land (we’d recommend it), wearing one as part of a tailored outfit is a smart way to go.
Pulling it off is all about using earthy tones, neutrals and prints in harmony. Play it subtle by going for subdued blues, browns and greens. Then best way to do this is by opting for separates rather than a full suit. A blue jacket is versatile, meaning you’ll be able to wear it with multiple outfits, while brown trousers and a green camp-collar shirt ensure that throwback quality is still there.
For a slightly bolder, Gosling-approved option, go light with the tailoring – beige or stone is a good neutral to pair a louder printed shirt with. Vertical stripes, chevrons and psychedelic interlocking shapes are all solid options when it comes to selecting a pattern. Or if that induces panic and headaches, go tonal with the shirt for some easy Riviera style points.
For the perfect excuse to lose the tie, opt for a shirt that prevents you from wearing one in the first place. The collarless shirt, otherwise known as the stand-collar, or grandad-collar shirt, was made to be worn without a tie. Its clean, uncluttered appearance also happens to lend itself nicely to tailoring (ask the Peaky Blinders if you don’t believe us), allowing you to instantly give any suit an update without forking out at your local tailor.
This is good news, not only for your wallet, but also for your smart-casual wardrobe options. Case in point: next time you need to dress up a little without going full businessman, why not leave the tired old chinos and Oxford shirt in the wardrobe and take things up a notch by slotting a grandad-collar shirt underneath a fitted, single-breasted jacket and topping it off with matching pants and casual shoes? As far as the tailoring element goes, failsafe colours are navy blue and any shade of grey.
Shirt-wise, go for either a simple white, off-white or light blue. A stripe is the loudest print you can get away with here, but a denim shirt is an option if you’re dressing down.
Don An Air-Tie
You don’t have to be Bradley Wiggins to button your shirt all the way up but leave the tie in the drawer. In fact, styling a buttoned-up shirt, sans tie, is a fast-track way to take you directly to the front of the menswear peloton.
Being a nod to mod fashion, this particular look is best carried off with slim tailoring and a slightly cropped leg. To go full Johnny Marr, swap out the leather Oxford or Derby shoes for something more relaxed and casual – think loafers, desert boots or sneakers.
Bonus points for wearing a patterned shirt. Dark florals are always an excellent option as they allow things to be jazzed up in a subtle manner, without getting garish. Just remember to keep the rest of the outfit stripped-back and let the shirt do the talking. That means no statement jackets, novelty cufflinks or brightly coloured socks.
While this is most certainly a sharp outfit, if you work in the corporate world it’s not one to be wheeled out at the office. Parties, weddings and date nights, on the other hand, knock yourself out.
Sub The Shirt For Something Similar
Why stop at the tie? Dial the formality down an extra degree by wearing a polo shirt, half-button placket or even quarter-zip top under your blazer. With all of them you retain a collar of some kind but the look is instantly more comfortable and casual.
The piece of clothing you chose to layer beneath your suit jacket has a huge overall impact. The decision whether to wear a navy suit with either a crisp white poplin shirt, or a stand-collar half-zip polo can be the difference between clinching a deal in the boardroom or getting papped by a street style photographer.
A soft woollen polo in a neutral colour is smart summer office attire, but you could try a ribbed version or one with a bold stripe to introduce some retro texture and interest. Tucking your shirt in isn’t necessarily a requirement here either. A half-button placket shirt, for example, looks breezy and laid back when left to hang loose.
To nail the look, keep the accessories to a minimum and footwear casual. Think loafers, brogues or suede Chelsea boots. The company-man Oxfords can stay in the closet.
Keep It Simple With An Open Collar
A necktie can feel like a noose when it’s wrapped around your neck for 40 hours between Monday and Friday. Who doesn’t love releasing the choke hold and letting your collar hang open? So why not enjoy it all the time, rather than just for a brief moment after a long day at the office?
It’s long been a look favoured by big-city bankers glugging wine in overpriced bars, but you don’t need to have brought the economy crashing to its knees in order to wear this look.
One of the most classically casual moves you can make in tailoring, the rest of your outfit should be accordingly relaxed. Swap out smart shoes for luxe white sneakers, complemented by cropped-leg trousers. Teaming this up with a white shirt is a good way to keep things looking clean and considered, and not just like you decided to pull a pair of mismatched trainers out of your backpack for the commute home.
For something less 10pm-at-a-wedding-party, forgo the plain white shirt and opt instead for something with a print or pattern. If you’re heading out on a first date or for a less corporate job interview, this is a good way to signal some personality, while still looking smart and polished.