How to go tieless with a suit

10 tips for pulling off never putting one on.

Some guys HATE the tieless look. And that’s fine, no one is asking the tieites to burn their collection. But when one side spits vitriol like the zero-tolerance for tieless crowd does (not those who just don’t like the look, those who think EVERYONE should hate the look), you gotta think there might be some jealousy there. Fact is: Tieless can work and does work for plenty. But it’s not as simple as taking a tie off a full spread collar under a pinstripe suit and calling it good. Here’s a few suggestions on how to maximize your chances of tieless success.

1. Collars are completely key

No tiny or full spread collars here.  You need something that’s gonna get close to vertical and frame your face (try Target’s Merona Ultimate Dress shirt or the Nordstrom Trim Fit).  You’ll probably need wurkin stiffs or really good collar stays. What you DON’T want, is Tiger-Woods apology press conference collar.

2. So are your shoes and accessories

These things lend some balance to the outfit.  For the shoes: now’s the time to take some risks.  Try out some monk straps or suede, and if it’s summer?  Consider sockless.  Wear a watch that’s a little busier than a standard, minimalist dress watch.  Try a pocket square.  The tie is obviously not there, so now’s your chance to try some new things with that visual space.

3. Keep the suit solid or subtle in pattern

One way to avoid that “I was wearing a tie, but I ripped it off so I can get on the wedding reception dance floor” look is to choose your suit carefully.  A peak, wider lapeled chalk stripe is too boardroom ready.  Stick with solids like navy, light grey, or khaki for summer, and subtle, hardly noticeable patterns if any.  Two button here with a medium or lower button stance and slimmer notch lapels also helps.

4. Get your fit right.

Should go without saying, but without the tie, everything else is on display.  Especially sleeve length.  Show some cuff.

The obligatory Clooney as Danny Ocean mention. Lots of great tielessness in Ocean’s 11, 12, & 13.  

5. Try unbuttoning that second button on your shirt

This is tricky for some.  Plenty just don’t like their shirt drifting open.  But if your second button on your shirt is up pretty high, it’ll look  stiff if it’s closed.  Good news is there’s a way to create another “button” between #1 and #2.

6. Wear a shirt with a small pattern

Tiny tattersall, pencil stripes, etc… Solid shirts when tieless looks great too, but a slight pattern helps keep your outfit from looking too minimalist (if that’s a concern).

7. Flip the contrast script

It’s a little flashy (probably not the right word) for some, but a black shirt under a grey suit, or a grey shirt under a navy suit looks more than at home without a tie.

8. Be in great shape

Always helps.

9. Be a little bit ugly

Ugly… as in… not totally clean cut (or for some of us, just a little bit ugly).  If you’re impeccably groomed and/or just naturally look like you fell out of a Brooks Brothers catalog, then the lack of a tie might look a little too smooth.

10. And when in doubt, wear a tie.

One of the major causes of the anti-tieless sentiment is when someone goes tieless to a formal or business function.  You gotta know your surroundings and dress for them.  Tieless is a great way to wear a favorite suit more, but don’t over reach and look inappropriate.  If you’re interviewing for a job at a well dressed workplace, tieless projects arrogant playboy.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a tie. It looks great on everyone.  

Tieless and pocket squareShirt by Target, Suit by Indochino, Pocket Square by Fifth & Brannan