Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
We all know how outdated and rigid a tie can feel, not to mention binding when the heat hit. Help is at hand though with our exclusive style tips on how to wear a suit without a tie.
The modern man is constantly improving himself and to do so, he has to take risks. Such risks can include disassembling the most fundamental outfit to all that is man: the suit. Perhaps you’ve always struggled with knotting your tie, or perhaps you just hate the dated rigidity of it. For work or play, the suit is your go-to style staple, but who wants a tired and uninspiring tie holding them back?
No tie, no shirt, no problem. An innovative less-is-more approach, the suit-sans-tie look can be a daring stunt that not all men are confident in pulling off.
Opt for Business-Casual
You’ve heard of smart-casual, but what about business-casual? The latter spruces up the former and takes smart-casual to the next level. This ensures that even though you’re taking away a key element of formal wear, you’ll won’t be left wearing a casual suit, and you’ll still look sharp and sophisticated.
A high quality coloured Oxford or printed shirt is a way of disposing of the tie without looking scruffy or unkempt. By making the shirt the statement piece of the suit, you’ll be drawing attention away from the fact that you’re tie-less, whilst injecting personality into your office day wear and avoiding the ‘corporate’ look. Alternatively, you could stick to the classic white shirt if you’re not feeling too adventurous.
A crisp white dress shirt works perfectly when styling a suit without a tie; keep it simple and unbutton the collar, you could even turn up the cuffs for a casual approach to formal wear. A button down collar with a suit, even without a tie, is a classic look that no one is going to turn their nose up at. Alternatively you could go for a completely different shirt collar to add a twist to a standard suit.
Grandad collar shirts give a clean and complimentary look to everyone, so don’t feel you can’t pull one off – they suit all shapes and sizes. The best thing about them is that you genuinely can’t wear a tie with them, so there’s no chance of your outfit looking incomplete.
On the other hand, you could go down a completely different route and make the suit the focal point of your outfit. Bold patterned suits such as tartan, gingham or pinstripe are usually the reserve of the red carpet, but why not inject some individuality into the workplace? Removing the tie draws attention away from the torso and focuses more on the suit giving you freedom to play around with patterns without loosing that formality.
On a more practical note it can save you the hassle of having to match a tie with a patterned suit, which can be tricky at the best of times. If you’re unsure of exactly what kind of pattern you want to go for, keep it simple at first. Checks are subtle and while they can give your suit a boost, they’re not as eye-watering as other prints, and match well with a lot of different shirts.
If however you want to make a statement with your suit, choose either colour or pattern to play the main role. A uniquely patterned suit in a bold colour can reach clownish heights, so if you’re going for a less conventional colour, keep the pattern simple, and vice versa.
What About the Shoes?
If you’re going down the business casual route, a high quality pair of brogues or penny loafers fit the bill nicely. They’re ideal for the summer time as they’re easy to slip on, keep your feet cool and depending on what colour you choose, they can pretty much go with any suit of your choosing. If you’re going for a less intense suit, but you feel like adding a casual twist into the mix, try out a pair of tassel loafers, rather than the more streamlined penny loafers. Their unique feature adds a playful edge to the whole look, while never going overboard.
Ditch the Suit Trousers
Open your mind to the possibilities of a tie-less suit and it’s the most versatile look going, so why not go a step further and ditch the suit trousers as well? No, we’re not talking about going commando, we’d prefer you to not get arrested, but by ditching the suit trousers, you can reinvent your suit jacket and create a laid back look making it as smart or as casual as you like suitable for the office or the bar – depending on what you substitute the trousers for. After all, suit trousers aren’t the only leg wear around.
If you want to go down the casual route, jeans are a great way to do this. By ditching the tie you’re already making a casual statement and what item of clothing better better defies formal wear than the denim jean? Slim-fitting dark wash denim is a simple yet effective way to slim down your bottom half and draw focus to your torso.
Don’t go too loose with the fit, as this can end up looking messy rather than casual. Skinny fit jeans are actually a great choice for creating an alternative vibe, and matching a pair of them with a skinny fit jacket will help create a sleek, modern look – just avoid rips, any bright colours and jeans that are so tight they’ll crush the boys.
If skinny jeans aren’t your thing, a pair of slim fit, straight leg jeans is a good alternative, and in a lot of cases can look sharp and just as alternative. Cuffing them neatly at the end, either with a pin roll or turn up, can add an interesting finish and help accentuate your shoes while giving your jeans a neat tapered appearance.
You can rid yourself of suit trousers and still maintain an aspect of formality. Chinos are a great alternative to the formal trouser; they’re more comfortable, less rigid and can be styled up or down depending on the occasion. The cotton blend of chinos will feel light and breathable for when you have to opt for formal wear even on the hottest days.
Slim fit chinos are ideal if you’re in the tall and slender group, and can easily help you achieve a stylish and elegant finish. If you’re dressing for warmer weather, try a navy pair to give a light, clean finish, that’s cooler than black and is still an appropriate colour for formal affairs.
The great thing about chinos is the fact that they come in a range of colours, lengths and fits. If you’re on the larger side and feel like really emphasising your new fancy loafers you can opt for a cropped straight leg style in a flattering dark colour like navy or black. If you’re on the skinny side and you want to make a statement with your trousers, try a pair of chinos in a light colour like white or even pink.
What About the Shoes?
This look is still fairly formal, so a smart-casual shoe like a brogue boot or desert boot will tie in nicely. Make sure you’re paying attention to the colours, as you don’t want a perfectly fitting outfit ruined with the wrong shoes.
When it doubt, opt for a pair of dark brown shoes, as they tend to go with most colours, even trickier ones like white. If you’re going for a lighter look, just go for a lighter brown. It really is that simple. When it comes to materials suede is great for the summer month, while a high shine leather is a classic that will work for most seasons, but especially the drab winter months.
Swap Your Shirt for a T-shirt
A t-shirt is a casual and classic way of reinventing that tired old suit, and can take your formal wear from smart to casual in one easy step. We’re not talking about that old football top you’ve had for years, but the right T-shirt can help elevate your suit into something that’s effortlessly smart casual.
A plain white t-shirt is an acceptable alternative to a white shirt, but there are a few things to remember when you’re styling one. A baggy longline T-shirt might look great with a pair of skinny jeans and a leather jacket, but when it comes to suits, slim line is best. Make sure it’s long enough to tuck into your trousers, and fits closely to your body, ensuring a neat finish.
White T-shirts are great for black and navy suits, while black is a classic tone that’s great paired with bolder, patterned suits. We might sound mad, but pairing this look with a pair of clean, white sneakers is an on trend style that can transform your tired suit into something fresh and modern.
So a plain T-shirt works well with a suit, but what if you want to create a more vivid ensemble? Clean and simple isn’t always best, and a patterned T-shirt can really compliment a plain suit. We’re not suggesting you go too crazy with your prints, but some simple, streamline patterns can create a dynamic look that’s great for casual affairs.
Just remember, the T-shirt and suit combo may look simple, but when it’s done wrong you’ll know about it. An all over pattern works better than a single graphic print as it balances out the proportions of the suit, so choose your tops wisely.
What About the Shoes?
Although you’re still wearing a full suit, this is a fairly casual look. It’s best to avoid anything too formal, like loafers or brogues, if you can, as you’re trying to achieve a fairly relaxed vibe. Some simple slim fit trainers in a block colour, like black or white, will easily match with your casual suit. Try going for materials like suede or canvas to keep the look laid back and simplistic.
Men’s Suit Accessories
So, onto the finishing touches. A good accessory can really make a suit shine, whether it’s a simple, formal piece that adds a finishing touch to your look, or a bold piece that takes centre stage.
Wearing something like a pocket square with out a tie can seem a little taboo, but it’s easy done and still looks classic and stylish. It also saves you the trouble of finding a tie to match with it, which can be an annoying task as it is.
A good watch is a classic accessory to pair with a suit, and has been the go to combination for generations. A traditional analogue design in a simple gold or silver finish can add a classy, formal finish to your suit, while a modern digital watch can keep things looking casual and sleek.
Your Quick Guide on How to Wear a Suit Without a Tie
- Make your shirt or suit the main feature, but be careful not to make both stand out.
- Try out different shirt collars, like the grandad collar, to avoid the need for a tie.
- Jeans and chinos are good alternatives to suit trousers, and they can keep your suit looking casual, lessening the need for a tie.
- T-shirts can be worn instead of shirts, but make sure you either go for a simple block colour or a subtle pattern.
- Trainers, brogues, loafers and desert boots can drastically change the overall look of your suit, so think carefully about what vibe you want to go for before you pick your footwear.
- Try accessories like watches and pocket squares to help move your suit towards a more casual or formal look.
On That Note…
If you had any reservations about wearing a suit without a tie, hopefully those have been quashed. Whether you want to dress it up or down, the possibilities are endless when styling a suit without a tie. Pair with a t-shirt for a dressed down casual look, or pair a high quality Oxford shirt in a contrasting colour against your favourite suit for the ultimate dressed up office wear. It’s your call.