Why you should wear more (or less) than just a shirt and tie.
More than a few years back, my then girlfriend (now wife) and I were at a fancy charity function thing. Lots of tables, nice food, a big stage with some entertainment on it, silent auction tables and a live auction at the end of the night. All the women were in nicer cocktail dresses, and the guys were doing their part to look good too.
I was the only one in just a shirt and tie.
All of the other guys were in suits. Not everyone was wearing a tie, but everybody had on a jacket of some kind. Hell, even the waiters were wearing vests. And they all looked better than me. My tie was swinging back and forth. Even a trim fit dress shirt looked lumpy at my sides. I kinda looked like a boy amongst men, and here I thought I had done my part to “dress up” by putting a decent tie around my neck by way of a four-in-hand.
A shirt and tie is considered “dressed up” in America, but it just doesn’t look that great. Too much is moving around and out of control. You want cleaner lines and a better shape. Here’s five ways to do it, starting with the most casual:
#1. Lose the tie.
Wearing just a shirt and tie all too often looks like you’re wearing what you’re wearing because you HAVE to wear what you’re wearing. Take a pair of scissors, cut the forearms of your shirt off, and all of a sudden you’re Homer Simpson. Losing the tie is the most casual option, but at least you’ll look less like an uncomfortable kid in Sunday School.
#2. Add a tie bar.
This is all about control. Even if your shirt is well tailored, there’s going to be some lumps at your sides. Anchoring your tie to your chest elongates your torso and streamlines your look. It’s a gigantic difference when compared to wearing a shirt with a tie that’s swinging like a pendulum from your neck.
#3. Throw on a sweater vest or waistcoat.
Damn right. A sweater vest. Now there are rules for the svest, but wear it right and your torso will be slimmed down while your arms will look a bit bigger. Same goes for the waistcoat, which is a little more difficult to pull off.
#4. Add a Blazer or Sportcoat.
A well tailored cotton blazer with a pair of jeans and stand out shoes will always look better than a guy in pleated dress pants, a traditional fit shirt, and some tie that’s ripping off an MC Escher painting. That said, if you can’t wear jeans where you’re going, just put a navy blazer over what you have on and you’ll be good.
#5. Wear a suit.
We gotta get over this suit = ohmygodlookatthatdudeheisinasuit thing. Plenty of us have great, well tailored suits, that rarely escape their closet confines. Let it out every so often. And if people bug their eyes out at you, just know that eventually those stares will stop. And if a tie feels too stuffy with your favorite suit? You can always lose it.
Disagree? Are you all for just a shirt and tie? Have any other suggestions on how to modify this standard American business look? Leave it all in the comments section below. Top Photo Credit: Erix