This is a new installment in the series ‘The rules and how to break them’, which has been a little neglected in recent years. 

It’s a great little guide, exposing myths of menswear and calmly explaining the rationale behind advice that is normally just shouted (with a surprising amount of consternation and no nuance).

The guide – which you can see here – explains conventions such as ‘no brown in town, ‘no white after Labor Day, and others. As I write this I can think of several more we should add. 

Today, we’re going to talk about wearing suits without ties. Why some say you should never do it, the reasons behind the opinion, and as a result the ways it can be done intelligently.



Three years ago, when I still worked at a financial magazine in the City, the tieless look was in full swing. On a Friday night after work, bankers and lawyers would be standing outside the pubs, pints in hand, wearing dark suits, white shirts and no tie. 

It was a terrible look. They were all the same and they were all boring. Without a tie, they had lost the one thing that forced them to make a choice in the morning, and express some personality. 

Suits and shirts had to be conservative, but the tie was a shiny, patterned and even brightly coloured decoration. And now it was gone. 

This is one good reason people dislike suits without ties: the tie is a beautiful thing, and its demise is a loss to culture. When will so many men wear such delicate, decorative pieces of clothing again? 



The bigger argument, however, is that a suit is simply incomplete without a tie.

This is also part of the reason those office workers looked so dismal: they gave the impression of having just left off one piece of clothing out of laziness. 

The suit is a big dark block of colour, tailored to lead the eye pleasingly towards the face. As we go up there is a pale shirt, and then usually a necktie as the triumphant end of the journey. 

Without a tie, it can genuinely feel like something’s missing from the top of the outfit. 

I don’t think this is just a question of convention – of what we’re used to. There is something about the architecture of a suit that looks best with a neat tie at the collar. Separate jackets and trousers don’t have that problem, as the outfit is broken up.

For that reason, they’re often a better choice if you’re not going to wear a tie. 

A suit is also, usually, a sharp and finely made garment, kept pressed and buttoned. An open-necked shirt can seem out of place with that aesthetic, in the same way as a suit that is misshapen, badly fitted, or never done up. 



These are all good and valid reasons for wearing a tie with a suit. I think they should make any well-dressed man think twice about not doing so, and take every opportunity to add one. 

But, as with all these rules, that’s all there is to it: there are no absolutes. A suit can happily be worn without a tie, and the key to doing so is to consider these same reasons of why a tie looks good. 

First, a tie accentuates and finishes off the sharp, smart look of a suit. So if the suit in question is more casual, the reasoning loses power. 

A cotton, linen or woollen suit looks much more comfortable without a tie than a worsted one. The same goes for a suit in a more casual colour – basically, not navy or grey. 

With my linen from The Armoury above, for instance, the suit looks great with a tie, but also very natural without one, given its material and colour. 

The suit below from Kenjiro Suzuki in Paris is more borderline: it’s cotton, a casual material, but dark navy in colour. I was fine wearing it here without a tie, but I was conscious that it would have been very plain without a pocket square or some other decoration. 



These two examples also point to another good reason for wearing suits without ties, which is temperature. 

Exposing your throat to the air is very cooling, given the veins that pass close to the surface, and a bigger factor in the Summer than an unlined jacket. So it looks and feels far more natural to be tieless in the heat. 

The same goes for your ankles, actually, which is why being sockless is so practical as well. And in fact a suit and tie with bare ankles is often an odd look (a mistake I’ve personally made in the past). 

Good reasons for going tieless with a suit, therefore, include trying to being casual and trying to keep cool. I do so much more in the Summer, as demonstrated by the fact that most of these PS images are of Summer suits. 

I do wear Winter suits without ties as well, however, as with the example below – my brown donegal-tweed suit from Dalcuore



This outfit illustrates a last aspect of suits without ties, which is that it helps to replace the tie with something else.

Those City men looked drab without their ties, but they could have compensated by wearing more interesting shirts, a piece of knitwear, or another accessory like a scarf or handkerchief. 

This might have been tricky given their dress code, of course, but where permitted an alternative accessory can make a big difference. That Suzuki suit of mine might have suited a more colourful pocket square, and it helped that the shirt was indigo linen. 

The donegal Dalcuore suit is much improved by the navy spotted scarf (modal/cashmere from Drake’s). 

The particular advantage of a scarf, of course, is that is not as flamboyant as a pocket square, nor as smart. The suit can remain much more casual and everyday. 

Indeed, the scarf can look purely practical, though I’d encourage men to explore scarves that aren’t only required to keep their necks warm. 



Other accessories that can help include pins, sunglasses in the breast pocket, and a sleeveless cardigan. 

Casual shirts help too, like the black Friday Polo worn below with my Vestrucci flannel suit below, or a denim Western shirt

Patterned shirts can also be good, though personally I find they work best with Summer suits. Somehow with a Winter or smarter suit they don’t quite dispel the impression that something’s missing. 

I’ll close with the mantra that began this series of articles, back in 2008: “Rules are there for a reason, but there is nothing wrong with breaking them. It’s often only when you understand the rules that you can break them effectively.”

I’ve paraphrased slightly (I think my grammar might be improving), but still it’s nice to know that 13 years later, the mantra still holds. 


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“[T]he tie is a beautiful thing, and its demise is a loss to culture. When will so many men wear such delicate, decorative pieces of clothing again?”

Beautifully put Simon.


While I’m wholeheartedly in agreement (and have found myself wistfully perusing my tie collection in lockdown) it’s amazing sometimes to see the vehement dislike ties provoke amongst non-menswear enthusiasts on social media. Martin Lewis has been trending on Twitter this week for his stint on GMB and there’s been much discussion of his lack of a tie, which may provide indication of what the tie is up against culturally.

The saddest thing is though (for those of us who don’t just take pleasure in dressing well but like seeing others well attired too) is that for the masses without the considerations such as in your article today, the ‘city worker in the pub after work’ look will become the overwhelming standard.

Luca Simoni

Perfectly stated. Totally agree. Despite owning a good hundred ties collected in the yers from the best tiemaker in tehe world, sometimes even to myself they started seeming to me not anymore a mandatory pece o wear but a sort of diguise. Names like Sulka, Finollo, Truzzi, Hilditch & Key, Marinella, Cilento, Finollo and others either closed or ceased to produce proper fine ties. It’ s sad. But in history, every century and half there are always been drastic changements in the way of dressing


I couldn’t agree more. I work in one of the few fields that, before COVID, still required formal dress. Yet, even my firm has stated that the dress code will now be “business casual” when we return to the office. I fear that the pandemic has not just accelerated the demise of the tie (and the suit, for that matter), but might have finished the job.

Ray preston

I will NEVER surrender the glamour of a tie. I wesr one everyday. Even for grocery shopping!


I would add that suits/jackets without ties look better with a button-down shirt (or a polo shirt with a supportive collar stand). Otherwise there is a danger of the shirt collar collapsing.


I just meant the shirt construction and how the jacket collar interacts with the shirt collar.

A formal spread collar works well with a jacket when the shirt is buttoned because it sits flat on the collar bones and the jacket collar/lapels lie over the top. When the shirt is worn unbuttoned the shirt collar opens and can collapse under the jacket collar.

I have switched to BD (bespoke from Luca) for most of my casual shirts in recent years and his BDs sit quite high and close to the neck which leaves room for the jacket collar and shirt collar without the latter collapsing.

Yes some non-BD collars work too (particularly when fused or with collar bones inserted) but ime BD work more consistently.

Of course one option would be the Mod look of buttoning the shirt to the top even without a tie, but I’m guessing most of your readers would shy away from that.

Peter Hall

I think there is a need for UK shirt makers to think how collars(designed for ties) look when worn open. Conversely, you don’t want to look like a courtier in Regency Britain.


Thanks Simon, great article as always – I think you’re bang on with the rationale and methods of ignoring this rule. (It’s semantics, I know, but I prefer to think I’m ‘ignoring’ rather than ‘breaking’ The Rules; don’t ask me why!)

One of my favourite evening looks in the warmer months is a navy worsted suit, cream linen shirt with no tie, and black penny loafers sans socks. It goes against the guidelines of not wearing a dark, ‘businessy’ suit without the tie – but I find really works when a tie would be too much, but I still want to look somewhat smart on a night out. The linen shirt (with an extra button unfastened), no socks, and loafers are key to avoid looking looking like one of your City boys in the pub.


Yes, definitely a handkerchief; plain white linen, or something silk & colourful with a white or cream base, like Rubinacci do so well.

Dr Peter

Good points — about breaking rules, and also about suits sans ties.

I was also reminded of the fact that there are suits like the Indian closed-collar suit that are simply never worn with ties — very much like a military tunic. With such suits, I think adding a bit of colour and pattern would make for a more interesting look. I have a couple of Indian suits, and I usually wear a bright coloured pocket square with them, sometimes with a paisley pattern to contrast with the dark wool and add interest.

The gentleman in the final photograph in this article has an interesting ensemble — a tad unusual but quite well put together: What looks like an astrakhan collar, and similar cap as well, along with a paisley scarf and spectator shoes! Now there is a man who has confidence — and a splendid, old-fashioned, handlebar mustache as well. May I ask who he is, and where the photograph was taken?


Thank you for this nice and interesting article Simon.

The fact is also that nowadays, many people working in an office do not keep their suit jacket on, even during meetings (I am talking pre-Covid 19 times). And, personally, I am not a fan either of the suit trousers + shirt + tie combination without the suit jacket on. With braces, it looks ok to me (it is my personal taste of course), but then you incur the risk of being called Gordon Gecko by your colleagues :o)


Any more photos of Donegal suit? Haven’t seen that before.

I would put suits without ties into separate category – the “knockabout suit”.


Hi, lovely donegal suit. The link however, shows another brown dalcuore suit, did you cover the donegal separately? Would you recommend it as a casual piece?


Simon do your thoughts relate equally to single breasted and DB jackets?


That’s interesting – I personally find the no tie look can be easier with a DB as there’s less ’empty’ shirt on display. (The same logic you explored in the ‘t shirts with tailoring’ piece). Also the fact of a DB itself being gently unusual maybe makes the choice to go tie-less feel more considered, as opposed to that autopilot City look.


I have the opposite view – I feel like the reduced amount of shirt showing makes the lack of anything around the neck even more pronounced! One of the reasons I always try to wear a scarf with my peacoat.


It seems to work with your Sexton DB in linen. Not sure it would work with a winter alternative.


That last outfit is killer man.


As with all the articles in the series I feel the emphasis on the deliberateness of these decisions. There’s a big difference between casual/summer suits paired with an interesting shirt or dashed with a scarf and the ubiquitous (even joyless) navy business suit sans tie. I wondered why you wrote this article now? – fairly low down the list of ‘rules’, despite being one of the most commonly broken. Is it rule you would have broken/considered writing about when the series began, if not, what’s changed?


This has basically been my look for the past one and a half years, as I find it absolutely impossible to wear a tie and a face mask at the same time.

Nigel C

Nice article. I work in banking and the prevalence of that navy suit and open necked white shirt look has me in despair.
I’m a fan of the more relaxed suit and an interesting shirt combo – especially these days. Whilst I think one should avoid overthinking this, colour and texture are so important to pull it off; which is why I just love the look in the final image.
Oddly enough I was listening to Aleks Cvetkovic’s latest Handcut Radio podcast with Charlie Casely-Hayford on the drive in this morning. Aleks quoted Mark Cho on suits ” The thing about a suit is that the jacket and trousers match, That’s all there is to it”. That’s as good a start point as any for this!
Best wishes N


Hi, who made the tassel loafers in the second picture? They look more delicate than Belgravias? Also re. that picture, as you suggest yourself I find the no tie look can work with more casual suits (and requires very nice collars), and for me that means it always looks odd with a DB suit. Of the outfits above, I find only the first picture convincing (but then this one is a really good look).

I hate the sockless look with suits though, always looks affected to me. Also, I strongly recommend that no young man in the city show up with a nice silk scarf to make up for the lack of tie after hours, unless you want to be absolutely ridiculed by your colleagues.


Ah. Is it a different last than the usual 184? Looks a little more chiseled, but might just be the lighting.

Preston Stickles

Thanks for the information! I will, however, disagree with one part, that the suit and tie looks silly without socks. I personally think, if done correctly, it can be a playful mix between smart and casual. One more way to make a suit more approachable. I know the guys at Mashburn (and Sid himself) often strut this look, and I thought it looked well on you also! As always, I enjoy your articles.


It’s an interesting one. Personally, I like the no tie look, but there’s always a risk you look like you’ve forgotten something. If in doubt, as others have said, a button down shirt makes the point to be that it’s not “missing”.

Great article, but (for me) a misstep (sorry for the pun) on the black loafers and sheer socks. They are looking a touch too dainty in that pic. A little Louis XIV!


For those of you experiencing this for the first time, the death of the tie may seem like a phenomena. The more mature sartoralists amongst us know that it occurs punctually every decade or so and is not a cause for great concern. People have a habit of coming to their senses.
That said, the key issue is what to do before its inevitable renaissance and Simon answers that question quite well. Albeit, he surprises me by not including the neck square amongst his proposals and I would ask if he has experimented with this or has a view on that option ?
It is an advanced art – one doesn’t want to finish up looking like Hercule Poirot but done well, it’s a killer. That late, great sartoralist and journalist AA Gill used to sport it with a casual suit with considerable aplomb.
Ps. I’ve just taken delivery of my PS overskirt in navy and am delighted. A fine piece indeed !


Apologies, I’ve re-read the article a couple of times and cannot find the suit you have paired the polka dot scarf with.


This no tie idea can look nice under limited situations as this article points out nicely. However, it’s very easy, maybe highly likely, that the man who ventures down this road will look like the city boys at the pub. This look is often just an excuse for men not to wear a tie which, as Simon says, is a thing of beauty.


May I ask how you have tied the navy spotted scarf in the seventh photo? It looks as if originates from the jacket pocket. Living in a city with abundant micro-climates, I generally wear a scarf at the neck (French loop I believe is the name of method) with a sports jacket (no tie), polo shirt, and light-weight merino cardigan (Uniqlo cardigans, while not the best make fit the bill well because they are very light and there also is or was a cotton/linen blend that was great for warmer days. I shove the end of the scarf under the cardigan to clean up the look a bit. 

Sometimes it can get too warm at some point in the day, and I am often at a loss as to where to move the scarf. Or where to put it in a restaurant. I’ve tied it around my waist and tucked the edges in so depending upon the color it can appropriately almost disappear, but there’s always the risk that it will end up on the pavement. Thanks in advance. 

P.S. Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve often thought that an long-sleeve merino or cashmere-silk blend polo might work under a suit.


Thx very much, Simon. Artful to say the least, and I suppose firmly in the sprezzatura tradition. Potentially very practical, so will give it a try as it may also work with a relatively light-weight fall/winter cashmere scarf in a tweed sports jacket’s pocket.


Interesting to hear your thoughts on the bare ankles with a tie as I thought the picture you linked to looked fine, do you have any other guidelines of when it can work and when it can’t?


Incidentally, for those gents missing the opportunity to wear a tie, I recommend joining a traditional London club (such as the Travellers, Reform, Athenaeum, etc.). Many still have a formal dress code (jacket and tie) and – in normal times – offer the opportunity to wear black tie.


I’m not entirely certain joining a London club Is something the average reader of this blog can decide to do on a whim.
Any gentleman’s club worth it’s salt is per recommendation only.


Brownish tan suit with polka dot scarf is nice.

Not a fan of collared shirts unbuttoned three buttons down; looks unkempt in suit or blazer. The picture of you walking with the bag looks like you just got out of the gym hence no tie or socks on and are heading home.

China virus or not, I am a fan of ties and socks.


Nice use of casual racism you got going there…

With the ongoing sinophobia in the UK which has impacted both Southeast and East Asians you really going to let this one slide Simon?


Simon, it’s disappointing you’d leave a comment like that up.

Wild Nor' Wester

You can have your opinions on fashion, but such casual racism is not appreciated on this site. Or anywhere for that matter.


Hi Simon,

Thank you for this useful article.

Do you think a DB flannel suit in light/medium grey can work without a tie? Some options might be a denim shirt, a roll neck (maybe a different topic), a knitted polo. Wearing the jacket unbuttoned might make it easier.

Well, I wait for your suggestions. I like to know how to make a DB suit in flannel more versatile (apart than wearing it from a tie).

Thank you,

Jay Weir

Hi Simon-

Thank you for the interesting article. I always learn something from them.

Might you have any suggestions on how you came to choose your pocket squares? The yellow one and the white/cream one (dark suit) are perfect and yet, unexpected.



Beginning to feel like the death knell for the tie … though can’t fault the beauty and effortless elegance of a tieless Simon. Has the tie literally become a pain in the neck for the post-pandemic wardrobe? Perhaps there can be a compromise … a tie can still be the head-turner even in a smart casual ensemble. Failing that, a PS readers’ campaign to save the endangered tie!

Dan Ippolito

Simon, you forgot one more reason to wear a tie: after a certain age, a man’s neck is one of his most unattractive features.
As far as I’m concerned, a suit without a tie will always look either unfinished or affected (or both). And few things are less elegant than a gentleman crossing his legs and showing several inches of pasty, hairy calf.
Some of the rules of dressing are arbitrary (no brown shoes after six?), but others exist for a reason and we break them at our own peril.
Paradoxically, this moment is hog-heaven for tie aficionados – we can pick up high end ties for pennies on the dollar in most thrift shops. Then all it takes is not caring that we might be the only person in a room wearing a tie.

Dan Ippolito

As I thought some more about this thread, it occurred to me that one situation in which a suit without a tie might be aesthetically pleasing might be if one is wearing a cream or tan linen suit with a blue shirt in a tropical setting.
As for every decision (whether of a sartorial nature or not) being purely a matter of personal choice, I respectfully disagree. Brown shoes after six are a personal choice – on the other hand, hairy bare ankles peeking out from under suit trousers or needlessly exposed turkey necks are unaesthetic in any known universe.

Dan James

I’d just like to add a couple of things.
Obviously a little bit of thought into a tieless outfit does wonders. One of the reasons why so many of your looks work is that the little detail of the pocket square contrasting against the suit and the shirt adding the final touch. If you a have a dark blue suit and light blue shirt then a white pocket square works so well. Similarly, grey suit, dark blue shirt and white square again. Something with a little difference in texture, like a different weight of linen will just add that ‘je ne sais quoi’
Just to add the discussion about collars brought up by others above. So many people just take a tie off and think it is a done deal. Collars designed for a tie can look awful without one especially if they fit badly and are floppy with no shape. A shirt with a collar designed to go without a tie (and if necessary with one) look so much better. Just bought a one piece collar shirt for this reason and look very much to wearing it.
One last thing, I’d go for no-look or invisible socks rather than no socks at all but that’s just me.


Simon, you mention that a scarf is less flamboyant than a pocket square; I’m not exactly sure what you mean. I would think that the most obvious and easiest way to make a suit less boring would be to add a subtle square. It can be done in a discreet fold that could add interest in a similar way as a tie.

Michael Ryan

A great well thought out article. I love ties but go tieless frequently depending on the suit, the situation and the weather. Enironment can play a big factor on whether no tie (and no socks for that matter) looks good. If you live in a hot and humid climate like Shanghai it looks and feels quite natural – of course you’re probably also wearing hot weather fabrics too. Those who think it’s never forgivable probably don’t have exposure to an environment (weather and otherwise) where it works well.


This is one of the rules that I never break, and can never see myself breaking. IMHO every suit in your photos would look better if matched with a tie. A casual suit just calls for a casual tie. For me, a suit without a tie says “I’m not a conformist hence I’ll forgo the tie (but as I actually am a conformist I’m not game to wear a sports coat and odd trousers)”.

Dan Ippolito

I’m inclined to agree.


I think people hate wearing a tie because it’s always too tight in the neck as the collar size is too tight. Once i have my shirt tailored, I love wearing a tie, all button up and tight. It’s sad to see workplace going more casual (especially in Asia, even in HK), and I don’t understand what it is with the pandemic.

Dan Ippolito

I suspect you are right – I used to see a lot of men whose necks looked like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. No wonder they hated “dressing up”!


Hello Simon, it is interesting your take on wearing suits with no ties, now I have seen wearers of suits with ties but no socks, even grooms at weddings. What’s your say?


A suit without a tie? “The horror! The horror!”

Jack Williams

It would seem that the dilemma of men’s neck wear has been with us for centuries: Roman soldiers sculpted on Trajan’s column wear kerchiefs; the terracotta warriors in Qin Shihuang tomb have thick scarves above their armor; several gentlemen in portraits by Rembrandt, Frans Hals or van Dyke wear elaborate ruffs. Whether to frame the face or disguise the vulnerable throat, some type of cloth covers the connection between head and shoulders. Typically this cloth modulates the difficult to drape intersection of collar, shirt and jacket. The suit, dress shirt and tie evolved into a successful solution to this problem and to discard one element without rethinking the whole ensemble risks a lot. Why an unbuttoned shirt? Does the exposed neck/chest add anything aesthetically? And as has been noted in an earlier comment, certainly not as one ages. I suggest we reconsider the tie-less unbuttoned shirt with a suit. If one wants to be less formal accomplish it with an elegant ensemble that works as a whole, rather than with fragments whose original, obvious intent was formality.
In a like manner, rather than sockless shoes, better to wear open, elegant leather sandals whose intent was bare feet and coolness.

Il Pennacchio

At this time of year, I find myself wearing a kerchief or bandana to protect the skin of my neck from the summer sun. And they can also be worn as face masks when needed. So there are still practical uses for neckwear, if not neckties.

John L Miller

Just a comment from the American side. The official portrait of President Barrack Obama is a suit, white shirt, and no tie.

Tony Parrack

I wore a tie to Ascot a couple of weeks ago – my first tie-wearing since Lockdown. Oh the dilemna, and the joy, of which tie to choose….

David Wakelyn

Would seem to me part of the solution is to wear more patterned shirts. In the U.S., a big gingham design looks smart.

Michael Harry Artan

Perhaps it is my imagination, but having put on some weight over the years, I find a tieless look to be somewhat slimming. I wonder if anyone else has had that experience.

Bryan Goh

Tom Ford modelling Tom Ford. Black suit, white shirt, no tie.


I recall the tieless suit started its current stint around the 2000’s as some sort of Russian kingpin look. Never thought western civilization would fall for it, but here we are. My late father, drawing from earlier associations, used to say that tieless worsted suit + plain shirt made you look like a bus driver. That defines more or less the bandwidth for me, and I find nothing attractive within.

In my case, I revel in sharpness, and peer pressure is not enough to give up ties. If anything, to turn more to plains and textures from crests and smooth silks. I have little doubt that I am more relaxed underneath than 90% of those who seek to look like it by shunning the tie or (worse) placing it in a pocket as they step outside the office.

Antonio S.

Dear Simon.

Sic transit gloria mundi

There are 1,001 opportunities to look elegant, smart, preppy, fashionable, stylish, but not by wearing a suit with invisible socks or without a tie. Your blog gives countless great examples.
A suit is designed in conjunction with a tie, a formal shirt (with double cuffs and cufflinks), pochet square and (visible) socks. Look at images of the Duke of Windsor or Gary Grant.
That’s what we call: Permanent Style!
Best Regards,



Hi Simon. Sorry, I’m very late to this discussion but I have a question about the merits of converting navy suit jackets (I have a few) into blazers by replacing the original buttons with contrasting ones. This recycling angle would facilitate a no tie look but what are the pitfalls?


I have done this successfully once with a very very dark blue (I think they call it Frencn navy) jacket which is fairly smooth but also a bit stiff and totally matte fabric, so it has worked really well. I would however recommend it only with suitings that have some texture, like a high-twist (mine) or a twill ane not too shiny. It’s difficult and Simon rightly advises against, but it is not impossible.

Nicolas Strömbäck

Agree on all points. I think for white shirts and navy suits, there should always be a tie involved, given my own experiments. Both are too formal to go tieless. I also find I enjoy the tonal stylings of Saman Amel in this regard, so whenever I feel like going tieless, I go for that now. Am buying a pair of their new cash/silk shirts which I think will be a new staple in this regard, to go even with navy suits 🙂


On the thought of “separates are better with no tie”, even though I do the separates from time to time, I really prefer the continuous line of colour from top to bottom. And sometimes a tie is too much (in my case, that happens in the office and I tend to use more the ties on the weekends than during the week).
The sockless look, I only do it with loafers, really wouldn’t do it with oxfords, but even living in Northern Europe (Copenhagen) it is necessary during the spring/summer.
And you still look more sober than most of the people, as here it seems to be super popular to use the pants 10 cm shorter than your regular no-break trouser would be.


When young entrepreneurs announce their mega hundred million dollar projects in sneakers and tshirts worn with a suit or sportjacket, the tie is simply imo only alive in professionals who are forced to wear it. Wearing a tie is totally unsprezz and isn’t sprezz a cool thing?


In the first photo above, black shoes are worn with a brown suit!!!
Brown shoes are worn with brown, beige, green clothing..
As a guide Brown shoes worn with clothing range Brown to Cream (and country colours – greens).

Black shoes are worn with black, charcoal, grey, and navy blue clothing.
As a guide Black shoes worn with clothing range black to white. (and blues).

Best, Éamonn


Lovely revisiting this article, Simon. This whole guide is excellent and a great ‘next step’ for anyone who’s taken an effort to learn about how to improve their style, but also a good anchor for afficionados.
I would add from my experience two successful and well advised tie-less suit looks, that have worked even with worsteds: tonal looks and boldly patterned suits.
The former can be a sharp style, particularly when dark suits and shirts are worn in the evening. Ties are also less needed with such a tonal look, which is striking yet subtle as is. The same may go for daytime summer suits, I’m thinking e.g. a pale cream suit and white tie, although I’ve never been as bold to try thay myself. The best example of this style is Jean Manuel Moreau.
The latter I have seen with my two boldest suits: a dark blue matte and slightly woolen suit with an off-white windowpane, which usually works much better and more effortless with just a white shirt than any combo of that suit with a tie. My go-tos with a tie are navy grenadines, but usually the suit looks better tie-less. The other suit is a worsted light grey with somewhat thick lighter-grey stripes. It is a bold suit, on closer inspection with a herringbone stripe and some more colour in the mix. Again, when worn with a tie it is usually a navy grenadine or a neat Macclesfield, but it is a killer with different shades of light blue shirt sans tie, or even a white shirt. I think with bold suits you let them tell the story, and with more conservative ones you let the tie and the cut tell the story.
Also, in all these combos I described two buttons must be left undone on a shirt and the jacket should be unbuttoned, so the tie-less look is clearly deliberate, a conscious style choice. Undoing just one button is a bad look that gives out an impression you took your tie off reluctantly and is often sloppy, and ditto if the jacket is buttoned


Hi Simon,

that stuffed scarf in the pocket… Would you ever think of doing it intentionally, to add an interest to otherwise simple outfit? I mean, taking small scarf, such as navy dotted Wispy, and tucking it into the odd jacket’s hip pocket (no tie) OR trousers’ back pocket (when wearing tailored trousers and no jacket, just a shirt), even if it might not be used that day?

And I’d like to ask you for an advice: cream bespoke trousers with black suede shoes combination, would that be acceptable to wear with charcoal-coloured socks or would you consider it too much contrast to trousers (even when one would wear charcoal casual shirt or odd jacket on the top)?

Thank you very much!



Hi Simon, I know … dropping a comment a year after you penned this feature on breaking the rules. Anyway I feel slightly naughty as I am about to infringe a dress code that has stipulated a ‘lounge suit’ be worn to a friend’s memorial/remembrance. I have looked everywhere for a definitive description of what a lounge suit is, but there are so many variations and I am still none the wiser.

If you can’t define it, then I will have to give up. If it is one that says: the suit fabric/colour for jacket and trousers must be a match then I’m going to have to buy a RTW pronto or make do with the separates I have and closely match the colours and fabric. And shoes? Please advise on best way to proceed. Thanks


Thanks Simon, much appreciated.


Hi Simon, with regard to your mantra about rules… not bad, but I think I can supply you with a slightly different (if not more astute) version: Rules are meant for the guidance of wise men, and the blind obedience of fools.
I’ve always found it very helpful in many situations.


Do you have any thoughts on using a hidden buttondown (like we sometimes see on one piece collars), but with a spread collar shirt to be worn when wearing a suit, or even just a jacket without a tie? I feel like it would stop the collar ever coming out, or acting unruly at all with the jacket off, but perhaps my ignorance is showing on why this would be a bad idea?


I find that spread collars do flip out. I do use soft collarbones inside when wearing ties as my shirts tend to have a light fusing in the collar to help it roll around the tie, opposed to the very stiff English look. My collar points aren’t particularly short (about 9cm), so I’m unsure as to why it seems to be happening!


I had missed this article at the time it was published, it has very interesting examples Simon.

I’ll add that in winter a corduroy suit (usually cotton I guess) works well without a tie. I wear a dark olive suit with a Friday polo quite often.

I’ve been thinking of getting a tweed suit to wear casually but it’s difficult to find a nice fabric. The more casual fabrics like Harris or Shetland tweeds are not suitable for trousers. Thornproof tweed don’t always look casual and relaxed.

Why wouldn’t stripes work with winter suits? Would corduroy shirts work?

And finally, are roll necks ok with more formal suits because they cover the neck?


Would a waistcoat (from a 3-piece suit in a casual material like corduroy or linen) make it easier or more difficult to wear a suit without a tie? It does cover more of the shirt but perhaps it’s perceived as more formal ?

John farey

I cannot believe its acceptable for the mayor of london to wear a suit without a tie, I work on a building site and have to wear hard hat ,boots and a hi vi’s,xthats the dress code, if I worked in a office I would Don a suit and tie, it,s as simple as that, John, bromley