Casual suits with collared knits: A new default

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I like wearing suits. Not only do I have a lot that I like wearing, but I continue to commission them – not as much as sports jackets, certainly, but consistently.

It can be an issue knowing how to wear them without a tie though. I know I have a bias here, as a fan of traditional tailoring, but sometimes there is that feeling that something is missing with the head-to-toe block of colour, a shirt, and nothing at the top.

We’ve talked about ways to mitigate this in the past. Accessories can be added elsewhere: less so pocket squares, but certainly belts, scarves, hats, knits, and sunglasses in the top pocket. Shirts can be patterned to add interest, as can the suit itself. (Some images of those below, and links in the text to the relevant articles.)

This can certainly work – in the Solaro outfit featured recently, the denim shirt and contrast belt were pretty effective, I thought. (Last image above.)

But a belt depends on having the jacket open; you don’t always want to wear such suits or such shirts; and the same goes for accessories, which are also easier at certain times of year (eg sunglasses and sunhats in the summer).

My recent tendency, therefore, has been to wear collared knitwear with them as a good staple – the easiest and often the default.

Like most of my conclusions, this was an observation that was then rationalised in retrospect.

I wore the combination above on a working day in town a couple of weeks ago. The suit is my dark-brown corduroy from Sartoria Ciardi (in all its soft rumpliness) the knit a PS Dartmoor, and it was worn with a black Rubato belt and Edward Green Piccadilly loafers.

It didn’t feel like a tie was lacking, because of course you wouldn’t wear a tie with a knit. But the soft, matte material of the sweater and the colour also separated it clearly from a shirt.

For this reason shirts in less-classic colours can also be good, such as the black one worn with my brown-chalkstripe suit recently. But as remarked at the time, a knit would have been better still, and when I flew to New York recently for our pop-up shop, it was black knits that came with me, rather than a shirt.

The point of these rationalisations is often to answer questions like that one.

It’s all well and good saying, ‘wear a collared knit with a suit’, but some readers – especially those at the beginning of their sartorial journey – will inevitably ask ‘which colours?’, ‘which materials?’, ‘with smart suits as well?’ and ‘without a collar?’

Hell, I’ve been thinking about this daily for 15 years now and still have observations that seem worth sharing, so it’s not just beginners that have these questions.

The answers to those particular ones are:

  • We covered colours of knits under tailoring here
  • Fine-gauge wools or cottons. Thin ones, essentially
  • Yes, though it’s harder. Start with something very tonal (eg navy on navy, charcoal under charcoal)
  • Yes without a collar, but it’s a lot harder. Similar to wearing a T-shirt under a jacket, which we covered partially in this piece about a heavy-linen jacket. Roll necks are also good, but a different style.

The other problem with this suggestion is that a lot of knits don’t work that well under a jacket. The collars aren’t designed for it: they’re too low, they don’t have a collar stand.

The PS Dartmoor and the short-sleeved Finest Polo are better, but that shouldn’t be surprising, given they were designed for that purpose. They’ve also been refined over the years, and the most recent batch of Dartmoors has a different knit in the collar that helps that little bit more.

But others work too. The Rubato summer knits, for example, are good – I have a brown long-sleeved and a black short-sleeve. They have quite an extreme cutaway but actually that’s quite a good way to deal with the issue.

And on the sportier side I’ve always been a fan of the Armoury polos made with Ascot Chang. If you want more of a sport, cotton-pique look (like a regular polo) they’re a good choice. I’m sure readers will have others they’d recommend.

The day I wore this outfit, it felt so relaxed and easy.

A cord suit could have been stuffy, a little geography-teacher-esque, but in a dark colour, with black shoes and fairly tonal knitwear, it was not. As with a lot of my favourite tailoring combinations, it felt very me (suited to my time, place, occupation, personality).

Black would have been good, but perhaps more suited to evening. Cream would also have been nice, as would navy and green if they were in the right shade (very dark navy; green that complimented the brown).

I’ve worn all of those options since, as well as grey-on-grey with my old Anderson & Sheppard DB suit. In that case a white pocket handkerchief was added, but it was an event. Fine worsteds are trickier, as mentioned.

Questions and suggestions and logical objections, as usual, fire away.

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Hi Simon,

I like the look, though I feel this article shows the transition of Permanentstyle as an outlet quite well, going from real world advice on how to improve your wardrobe with cloth, style, fit and otherwise (in a professional realm), to being more of a fashion outlet.
I can hardly imagine an office or job outside of the fashion industry in which a cord suit, black loafers and a jumper underneath would not be looked at as quite odd.
The same goes for the black shirt underneath a chalk striped suit, black shirts being the fashion equivalent of a murder witnessed in flagrente delicto.
I feel the articles used to be catered to somebody who wants to simply dress more smartly, most of the looks featured on the website now are more suited to sunday lunch in a hipster art cafe.
Obviously this caters more to some of the newer audience, however I would find it great if more in depth content into craft and styling of classic clothes could be shared.


To add onto this, I’ve worked in an office for many years now. However, I’m not from Britain. Given the office culture in my country, I would be ridiculed for showing up in suit and tie. These methods of dressing down a suit is the only way in which I’d be able to appreciate one, outside of weddings or funerals.

I very much appreciate this article, and will be looking to try out some looks going forward!


Out if interest, which country is this?


I took it that the photos illustrate the principles to apply, rather than necessarily the combinations to use. Some more “corporate examples” for those of us in more conservative environments would be good though – making Simon’s recent suggestion to update the “which office are you” even better 👍👍


I second this! Another inspirational article


Henry, I also feel somewhat melancholy when I reread “I work in an office”. I believe some of what made PS stand out so much was that Simon’s professional environment was typically corporate. Now, he is a full time style writer, which seems to bring him joy, but as a reader, that’s not something I can relate with in the same way

Perhaps the previous PS did not work enough for those outside corporate environments, and now the balance has swung too far in the other direction. I hope it can settle somewhere between the two


A navy suit with a rep tie and black oxfords will also be looked at as quite odd at most workplaces today. Probably more so than some of Simons recent looks, to be honest.

But I think most ways to style classic tailoring have been covered on PS over the years. There’s a huge archive of useful posts, and to be honest, there’s not going to be that many new ways to wear the medium grey or navy suit while still remaining classic (I think we can agree we don’t need a “Short slim suits with chunky sneakers” guide). The more creative looks Simon posts about may be a different vibe than the classic menswear, but they still retain the PS focus on well made, well fitting clothes in rather conservative colours, making a statement through cut and texture rather than obvious peacocking.


Agreed. Suits and ties are disappearing and there is also now a fear of polished shoes.
So there is a reluctance for dressing ‘smartly’, as people think they will be over-dressed. Hence all the fuss about chore coats and desperately trying to take the curse off former dress conventions. Corduroy jackets traditionally had a humble, lowly status too.
I rarely see a tie these days when I am London and it is difficult to tell who is an office worker – which used to be quite obvious.
There are still expensive casual clothing options and this site has now shifted in that direction.
As for the article, long sleeve supima polo shirts in the right colours look good under jackets as do roll necks which, in Winter, also prevent chills around the neck in the same way that a tie used to.
With a suit I would still be reaching for a tie though.


Always good to remember that some people like to wear tailoring outside of work, too! Just because something isn’t “office appropriate” doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it. Dressing is supposed to be fun!


I think that’s a good point. I’m not sure PS was ever meant to be just a dressing guide for office workers. It featured that kind of content, sure, but it’s always been broader and more of a celebration and exploration of menswear, with an emphasis on tailoring. Many of us love tailoring and probably spend very little time in offices at all!


In the spirit of a lively debate, I wanted to simply disagree with this comment. For one, I think what constitutes practical ‘real world’ sartorial advice is very debatable, and likely to depend significantly on the context/life circumstances of a given reader.

I would suggest that the world has veered decidedly towards casual dressing (in both professional and non-professional contexts), and away from the old default of a suit, dress shirt and tie. This is a much-debated state of affairs in the men’s clothing world, so I feel I’m stating the obvious, but I’d say a large proportion of the output of most menswear blogs (etc.) is dedicated to navigating these changing norms while maintaining good style (and a relationship to classic sartorial principles), and while avoiding looking stuffy or imposingly over-dressed. I think the outfits shown above all represent very reasonable and moderate approaches to this, and would be unlikely to be considered overtly casual in all but the most formal or conservatively-professional contexts.

If by your comments you mean that these outfits would look out of place in your own workplace, I think that’s a different question, and in any case I believe you’d be wrong to characterise this blog as having been largely dedicated to such formal/professional dress in the past.

In my view, the principle of subtly modulating formality (including articles like this showing stylish ways to dress down a suit) represents a much more thoughtful offering of ‘real world’ clothing advice on Simon’s part than would rigidly discussing only (or mostly) the wearing of a suit, shirt and tie. And there is plenty of content discussing such things alongside articles like this.


TBH I do welcome the change. Feels like that over the years PS has covered extensively on the principles and basis of smart dress/office attire. While principles are less prone to change its adaptations and interpretations in contemporary time is always changing as demonstrated by the trends we see especially in Covid years. I appreciate these articles as they provide an interesting connection to the current trend/fashion using the garments we might find in our wardrobe. Personally I use Simon’s suggestion not for copying but for inspirations on new adaptations


I’d be interested to know where you’re based, Henry? In the last 15-20 years I’ve worked in global companies, visited offices in Spain, Holland, Germany, Belgium and the Nordics. The office you refer to hardy seem to exist anymore. If more people dressed in the aforementioned cord suit with jumper underneath in my office, I’d be absolutely thrilled.
As I look up from my desk writing this, I see two hoodies, two jumpers, only jeans and sneakers or boots.
In the canteene I’ve seen one jacket today.
I think pieces like this really helps guys getting into menswear – or indeed already inversed in it – to get new perspectives. The worsted suit with shirt and tie still exists, and it’s a lovely, lovely thing. But their natural place in the office are long gone for most people.


Simon I think that the knitted polo goes best with suits that are not themselves wool, or at least not worsted, so as to avoid having an overly uniform outfit. The same logic makes me hesitant when it comes to ties made from suiting cloth.

By the way, how does the cashmere rugby look with a suit?


I’ve been doing this all through the summer with a navy linen suit over a dark green polo or occasionally a very bright coral one. Agree that it’s hard to get the collar right but otherwise it feels super relaxed, but also well dressed.
I haven’t nailed the combination for the winter though, really I’d love to try a few suits with an interesting texture to the fabric (herringbone tweed, corduroy etc) and see what works but finances are preventing that at the moment!
My personal approach is the more simple the suit fabric the more you can experiment with the knit and vice versa.

Eric Michel

This corduroy suit is really beautiful, and it works very well with this knit. My only concern with knit under a suit is that you feel pretty warm if you like to keep your jacket inside… This is the reason why without a tie I agree with your views to go to darker shirts: navy, black… I cannot wear anymore a navy suit with a white shirt and no tie. Two weeks ago I attended a business meeting with six other men: 6 navy suits with 6 white shirts/no tie!


I think this highlights Simon’s ongoing discourse about the transition in men’s office/ business attire since the COVID dividing line, but also the transition from power to engagement.
How, do we look elegant, conform to some parameters and yet stand out.
Quality, cut and fit go a long way, but a navy suit is still predominantly a navy suit. Ties gave an opportunity for flair especially with well chosen shirts.
I find I am drifting to natural tonal colours and textures to give subtle difference. This of course is a stance which is somewhat the opposite to power dressing a la Trump, which means it fits my perception of myself and what I hope to project.
Sartorial elegance is looking for a new format. Quality fit etc. will persist but the IBM blue suit red tie uniform is long dead.
Most high level business people understand we have moved from militaristic structures using people as tools, to a more human personal enablement, where the engagement of the individual is considered more highly. So dominant clothing fails.
This transition is reflected in the images portrayed by the heads of organisations and how they are saying they are interacting. Trump is power dressing, do as I say, Jobs was expressing techno geek chic, Bill Gates I’m so rich I don’t care.
Where next?


Interesting and insightful comment.
There was a London Mayoral candidate a few years ago, an American I believe, who had that Trump Power dressing look going on and I always felt the way he dressed just looked out of place in comparison to all the other candidates and from another time – blue pin striped suit & a bright red tie.
I could instinctively tell that the message his outfit was projecting would not ‘speak’ to the majority of Londoners in the way they want to be spoken to..


Brian Rose is who you are referring too. Interestingly, Kent & Haste are his tailor. He even did an interview with John Kent on his YouTube channel!


I like fine merino knits a lot, they seem to regulate body temp better than anything else for me. They are no bulkier than a cotton shirt and can add a level of casualness, without being slovenly.
The big issue is around the neck.
Roll necks have been commandeered by Steve Jobs wannabees. But this is not the only problem.
Temperature-wise you can not adjust the collar, if it gets a little warm you are stuck.
More of a practical problem for me, I grow beard stubble within 4 or 5 hours, enough to noticeably and permanently scuff the neck on the roll where most visible. So roll necks are only for short duration after a close shave.
Crew necks, whether tee-shirts or knits, I find both unattractive (my opinion) and impractical as they leave the collar of the jacket next to the neck, which in my case will leave a mark on the jacket, most unattractive and annoying.
So it would seem the natural answer is the polo collar. And you are the only person I have come across who addresses the major problem head on. I am sure others have addressed but just not highlighted it so much.
Polo collars are not normally designed to sit elegantly under a jacket or indeed a jumper, they scrunch awkwardly, right next to the face.
Most are flat only a little better than a crew neck, I simply dislike the abrupt cut off, it looks like a severed head.
So, PS and other manufacturers you have mentioned address the major flaw of knitwear with jackets. Excellent example of PS understanding the practicalities of gentlemen’s clothing, looking elegant not fashionable.


I use New Zealand merino as a layer for skiing. It is very warm. However, wool in place of a regular shirt comes with the issue of moths -which does not apply to cotton. Suits are more likely to be brushed and returned to a garment cover than a shirt replacement, so holes are kept at bay.
Long sleeve polo shirts were popular under sports jackets even in the 1960s. They are not meant to replicate a shirt collar but have – to my mind – always looked good. The only issue is the twisting of some polo collars after long term use and repeated washing. Supima collars usually look better than pique cotton in the long term.


Is there a storage solution to this moth problem?
I’m aware of the advice to ensure all woolens are kept washed to deter moths but I’d like to be extra careful now after having an infestation last year for the first time ever. Had a few pieces eaten away at.
I have a storage bag that came with a wool blanket I bought. It’s completely sealed when zipped shut apart from a coin size air-ventilation hole made of a metal gauze that’s impenetrable to moths. This seems to be a custom made bag but are there similar storage bags that clothes made of wool (apart from suit jackets and trousers) can be stored safely in?



Thank you for your comment. I also suffer from irritation with turtle and roll necks. Despite my efforts and dreams, I simply cannot wear them. Even after my morning wet shave (safety razor), a roll neck is unwearable. Too bad because a roll with a suit can look fantastic.
Alas, being bald, a shirt collar is the best way for me to shape my face anyway. If a polo, it needs to have a heavy strong collar or a simple jacket will disfigure with any movement.

Ian skelly

The denim shirt looks really nice , any plans to restock it / the fabric, I have the selvedge and would like to add. Anything else coming up soon/ restocks? I like to plan / budget ahead


I struggle a bit with the idea of wearing black leather shoes with your brown cord suit. Chestnut perhaps, but more probably suede, in black, espresso or snuff.
Leather, especially in black, is I think too formal a material to sit well with the cord, but it could still give the suit the level formality you are looking for if you coupled it with suede.
In Paris, where I live, suede shoes, particularly black, are worn across the spectrum and seem to work very well.

Peter Hall

I don’t think the biggest issue is necessarily the collar but rather the interaction iof textures between jacket and knit. Smart over smart is fine, as is more casual/casual(in so much as a suit can ever be casual) but the tension between those textures that sit in the middle.Successfully balancing these are the skill,

It is a look I like.


A couple of tangential questions, if you don’t mind, focusing more on the suit itself:
1. Do you often have your casual suits made with belt loops to help with dressing them down?
2. In your discussion of corduroy suit colours, you explain why the brown colour works well. Do you recommend that as the first colour to get in a corduroy suit? I’d been thinking olive for my first one.


Coincidentally my new anfa knits from Casatlantic arrived today. I already had one in black and they work well for me under tailoring. It is easier when you button it all up, which is of course not everybody’s cup of tea.
Although I work in a theoretically conservative environment (law), since the pandemic I often feel overdressed with a tie. So this knitwear option has been an important topic for me recently.
In general, what are your thoughts on leaving the knit untucked? When the length allows it of course.


Great article, as always and very relevant. i am totally at a loss why nobody wears tie any more. Forget suit even odd jacket and trouser looks incomplete to my eyes. I struggle not to put on a tie if I wear a suit or jacket / tailored trouser.

with my best


I agree. I like to wear a tie. It completes the look, and is a good opportunity for more style and color. It also leaves less neck showing which, as a man gets older, looks a lot better. I might wear a more casual knit tie, and I might wear it a bit loose at the neck. I don’t do it every time; I will sometimes wear a button down shirt and odd jacket without a tie, or a wool polo.


What is the suit on the fourth picture, with polka scarf? Lovely!


If a suit maker does corduroy suits, would they be reasonably good picks for RTW corduroy trousers? I read your casual trousers post and I’m in the market for a new pair of corduorys and beyond your recs like A&S, Drakes, Stoffa, I’m also considering tailors like Kiton, Attolini, Luciano Barbera, Zegna, just to see if any of them would be suitable options for cords. Any other thoughts or recommendations as of late?


Thanks, I tend to shop second hand so I’m less concerned about price and more for quality (I found some Barbera cords at a very attractive price, for example). Good to hear that Cordings make for good cords.


Great topic Simon. I wholeheartedly agree with the general thrust of your thinking. All of the shirts at the top of the piece look good because of how proud of the jacket the collars stand. I find that button-down shirts are almost a no-fail option here, they nearly always stand up properly. The one clanger is the photo of the pinstriped suit. The look is sloppy IMHO because the shirt collar is covered by the collar of the jacket. Maybe that was a “trick photo” to see if anyone was paying attention 😉
Knitwear is the right alternative, even if the collar is a little low, especially at this time of year. I really like the tenue of the corduroy suit and grey top together . Personally I wouldn’t wear grey under chocolate brown, both shades are relatively sombre. Oatmeal would be more my style, or some shade of blue (blue and brown together work great in my book). Anyway, that’s just a question of personal style.
Great stuff, thank you.


Excellent article as usual Simon! How do you feel about tucking vs. not tucking knitwear? This is one of the things that keeps me off wearing such a combination, as I feel slightly odd not tucking my top with a suit (would not wear a shirt untucked with a suit) but also don’t want to tuck knitwear. How do you handle this?
Thank you!


If I can add anything to this point, I’d suggest folding the bottom of your knitwear under itself near the waistband of your trousers to achieve a cleaner finish, and so it feels more similar to having a tucked in shirt. I’ve seen that on a few articles on PS (often ones referencing older styles of sweaters) and it works for me to smarten pieces up enough to wear with a suit without feeling like the end of your sweater is hanging too low and throwing off the nice lines of your waistband and trousers.


Thanks for clarifying Simon, thinking about it further I suppose what I mean is it’s more of an S, so the hem is still down but you’ve got two fold in the fabric so the hem is sitting higher than in natural would. Depending on how long it is it that excess fabric drapes down below the tucked up hem


“Feel something is missing” I initially assumed was from a purely visual perspective, after all putting sunglasses in a top pocket doesn’t suddenly make it feel like you have a tie on.

Personally, I am not sure that visually switching a shirt made from shirting material to what is effectively a shirt made from knitted material visually makes much difference to me. There’s a bit more texture but not that much more than say a slubby Oxford would add. The collar is a different shape but again that varies between all shirts irrespective of material.

It therefore seems that the feeling is more than something visual? Or maybe we (or possibly just me) need a side by side of suit with polo shirt and same setup with shirt of a similar colour to see why one is complete and the other incomplete.


But to the viewer?

It may be the inappropriately casual polo under a worsted navy suit but it hasn’t changed the feeling that it looks incomplete/wrong. I guess we can beg to differ but not convinced knit fills the gap when viewed externally.

Bruce Macklie

A good, and timely, article, Simon. One request: any bespoke shirtmakers you would recommend for polos? I’ve found RTW options to be lacking particularly at the collar but also with regards to proper sleeve length.

Bruce Macklie

Thanks, Simon


I recently started re-watching the Sopranos and noticed Tony Soprano’s knitwear/polo choices for the first time (I was not PS-educated when I first watched it). You don’t have to like all his style choices, but for his context the use of knitwear together with tailoring instead of boring too corporate or too casual options (both so ubiquitous today) is really great in my eye, and in some way probably ahead of it’s time.


I like this Simon. It’ll be interesting to see how far you can take this look in the future


Great topic and much needed.
Times and habits have truly changed the last few years and with the long term trend towards casual wear, this is a great compromise for those wanting to dress smartly without looking out of place. Many who work from home a lot or almost all the time and have little need anymore for sharp suits still want to look like they’ve made an effort to dress smartly without being dressed ‘too smartly’.
I think many would feel suitably dressed for a meeting in town or comfortable stopping by the pub dressed like this. Not too ‘stiff’ looking nor overly casual.
I find it fascinating how small changes to an outfit i.e. the type of shoes and the type of knitwear can completely transform from looking like your old school teacher to a subtle and sophisticated look. De Bonne Facture springs to mind, but not so casual.
For me the turn-ups on the cord suit are superfluous, though this is my own personal opinion. I’m no expert.
A textured ring e.g scales/reptile skin to add a personal touch, maybe?


Times and habits have truly changed the last few years “
Indeed. I look forward to the days when folk look to be ‘suited and booted: when out and about. One upmanship even, and no negative connotations about ‘suits’.
It may happen in a few generations, perhaps with less opportunities for motor vehicles as a display of wealth and also as an inevitable reaction against the choices of an earlier generation.


This is a very good and somewhat minimalistic combination, in my opinion, which would be appropriate for a wide variety of situations. The more casual nature of the knit shirt combines well with the cord suiting. I think in today’s casual dressing culture, experimenting with different kinds of “suits” and “dress shirts” seems appropriate. Then again, I don’t think we should draw such strict lines regarding what is an “acceptable” type of shirt under a suit jacket. It clearly fits, so there’s no problem. Although, in a good way, I wouldn’t consider this outfit fashion forward (or at least not overly so). All I see is classic clothes, perhaps combined in a newer way.

In my case, the dressing culture is quite casual in my country. Back in the day, I used to wear blazers often, but now I have been opting to wear overshirts (PWVC, for instance, a navy flannel one or a moleskin one) with collared shirts (a white Oxford or a white long-sleeve polo, for example), and it works quite well for me. It is perhaps kind of similar to what you are doing here (casual jacket, slightly more formal shirt, as opposed to formal jacket to more casual shirt). Maybe sartorial experts or many PS readers might scoff at my outfits, but in my opinion, they work. Overshirts may seem a little bit lazy, but with a sporty build, it’s honestly a pain to find decent-fitting blazers, and it is costly.

Tommy Mack

I agree’ I work from home, tutoring young students and often wear overshirts or more often, cardigans as a more casual substitute for a blazer.


Very timely article, thank you. I like to wear a tie and casually I found that I always preferred to wear something other than a casual shirt so I’ve cut them all from my wardrobe. Now I only have (relatively) formal shirts to be worn with a tie and a range of polos and sweaters that I actually enjoy wearing and have upgraded to also wear with separates


Hi Simon,
Great looks. I’ve always love corduroy suits
and the other suits look great with the casual shirtings. One look which has always maddened me is a business type suit worn with a dress shirt, cuff links,pocket handkerchief , dress shoes and an open collar. Put the damn tie on or at least a nice
ascot. Ian McShane from the John Wick films
knew how to rock the ascot look.
Love the JLC reversions.


Went to the pop up yesterday (which was great by the way) and mentioned I had just read this article and agreed whole heartedly.
You’ve used the which office are you/levels of formality concept previously, and I wonder whether something similar applies here: Suit, with a knit, then Sport coat and trousers, or denim with a knit. Then chore coat and denim with a knit.
Rather than levels of formality, its a means to de-emphasise formality across a range of clothes that most reader will have, but tend to use in a more traditional way.
Odd that a shirts lend such formality? Guess thats mitigated by the type of shirt, and probably why chambray is so popular to dress down. Knits maybe work in the same way.

Tommy Mack

Absolutely. I work from home, tutoring children and teenagers in an office set up as a tiny classroom (or increasingly since the pandemic, online) I try to strike a balance with my working wardrobe: professional but not teacherish, put together but not overly formal, neither old fogeyish nor too ‘youthy’. Knits are a great way to wear tailoring in this context. I find instinctively I limit myself to one formal garment at a time: if I’m wearing a blazer it will nearly always be with a knit or chambray/OCBD shirt and chinos or even jeans. If I’m wearing tailored trousers I’ll generally swap the jacket for a cardigan or v-neck. I might just about get away with a very casual suit with a knit or casual shirt although I always feel a touch costumey wearing a suit in my own house. A shame since I’d love more opportunity to wear suits but it’s important to feel comfortable in one’s own clothes and striking the right level of formality is an important step.


Whilst I do wear the odd belt with trousers, I just can’t get on with them on suits. I much prefer the uninterrupted line of side adjusters whether with a polo or a shirt, even in more casual fabrics such as corduroy, but can appreciate the sentiment of wishing to add more interest when worn without a tie.


I find the polo under the blazer the quintessence of relaxed elegance. I would like to know in the vast john smedley range which is the model fitting best under a jacket.

john kalell

Petronio, I find that John Smedley polos, because of their uniquely fashioned collars, perform in an almost unstructured way to offer distinction as accompaniment to a suit. The collar, because it’s so substantial, behaves as it will, a feature I find interesting, and not so planned looking.

I’ve also found in the last couple of seasons , a few striped merino polos which add a measure of seasoning if chosen in fairly understated colors.

This discussion is useful, Simon, if only because it serves to offer alternatives to the dreaded salary man look of a suit worn with white shirt without tie, so ubiquitous, or less kindly, common.

Tommy Mack

Great article and some fantastic outfits. I’ve long used knitted polos as a way to get more wear out of my mohair suit and with blazers as a way of smartening my casual WFH wardrobe.

I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t grab a couple of XS Dartmoor sweaters while they were still available. I may well try a S at some stage anyway: I figure I can get away with a little more roominess with a blazer over the top. Apart from the Rubato and Armory polos you mention, are there any others you’d recommend for wearing like this? Fellow readers, any suggestions?

PS: Simon, lovely to meet you and Lucas at the London pop up. Very excited to have received my cashmere Rugby and tapered T today. I’ll definitely try to make it down again soon!

david rl fan

Hi Tommy, The Merchant Fox has polos and jumpers but I didn’t see a polo sweater, Robert Old? Colhays?


Good morning! More and more men are making tasteless suits, that should be acceptable in the workplace. There are very few left who make suits with a flaire, for entertainment purposes.


Hi Simon,
Not sure if you’ve covered this previously but how about a piece on Christmas party outfits!


That sounds spot on. I’m thinking of looks such as your ‘showy’ all black look which I think would work well in an evening setting.


Perhaps I am the only one to have these opinions reading this website, but for me it would be extremely interesting if you also wrote about made to measure suits and jackets from brands like Tom Ford and Dior. Yes I know it is not the brands readers here would like to buy, but just because of that it would be interesting to read about what the differences really are in experience, handwork, craftmanship and so on. It would make the website even better to me. I understand the main focus should be on the established bespoke tailors, but I think a guy like you with your experience could really write important articles about those fashion brands.

I was listening to an old interview with Tom Ford when he explained why he started the brand. When he left Gucci, there weren’t any fashion brands making suits up to his standard, so he bought his clothes on savile row for a while but thought that was a very dry experience, so he wanted a cross between savile row tailors and a fashion company. I personally like this idea very much, to combine the best of two worlds.


I would like to see Tom Ford covered as well! Tbh it’s the only fashion house that has a really styled suit and (seems) to be okay regarding quality. Zegna makes for them as far as I know


Interesting with Dior. This is another story…but last time i was walking in Paris I felt really sad (haha) that so many great brands like LV, Dior, YSL have totally destroyed themselves in the last 20-30 years….Think of all the history, couture, craftmanship, think about if they had done the opposite and have collections (for both men and women) with great designs, no logos, and still great quality like the best rtw and mtm brands around. Think if the owners and stakeholders would be proud of building a longterm company instead of making a lot of cash from big logos from all the nouveau riche…

Yes I have read your coverage of brioni, but in my world the brand is not a fashion brand like Tom Ford, Saint Laurent, Dior, DG and so on. I actually tried a jacket from Celine last year in Paris…and yes it was not very good. But I can still think reviews from fashion brands could be really interesting here on your site to compare what the differences really are. I don’t think there is so many other people around better suited for this, because of your knowledge and experiences with bespoke tailoring.

Peter Bodach-Söderström

A thought about the “casual-formal “ dilemma. Dressing up is fun. It’s fun to wear a tuxedo or even a suit and tie. It’s fun choosing the right shirt and the right tie. But it’s also not very practical, so most of us are on the same journey towards more casual-chic (or whatever you want to call it) and Simon is very helpful there. I think those complaining about the change of permanent style don’t miss the actual tie in the every day life as much as they miss the fun reading about it. I think that if you, Simon, would do a piece about a black tie evening and what everybody chose to wear, we readers would love it even if we ourselves only wear a tuxedo once or twice a year.


I wear this look, and have found I prefer black and shades of grey over navy, which surprised me. Maybe it’s because as you say, navy is a strong color. This is especially true if I’m traveling and am minimizing my packing.


I always liked the relaxed look of a knitted polo under a suit. Brad Pitt used to do it a lot on red carpets and looked great while doing so


And you think that was because of the knitted polo? ; )


Yeah I do think so. Helps that he‘s in shape and good looking anyways but I think sporting a knitted polo (probably from Brioni or Kiton or Loro Piana im Cashmere/Silk) under a jacket in the same color is a kinda unusal, relaxed, but still chic look. I‘ve done it myself and I think it works very well! You come across as elegant (because of the monochromatic color palette) but at the same time more relaxed as someone who‘s wearing a shirt (which would normally mean a higher formality). Brad Pitt stood out doing so aswell on the red carpets aswell


I think I can contribute to the discussion because I work in a corporate law firm (in Vienna).
Such law firms are probably among the most conservative places that still exist in terms of clothing.
Yet hardly any of the younger partners under 50 or associates wear a suit to work. For many, for example, it’s gray pants and a charcoal jacket now in winter; that includes me. For most, it’s more likely to be trousers, a shirt and a cashmere/wool sweater over it. Nobody wears a tie in his office.
The exception are court trials – of course – or meetings with new/conservative clients. But the latter has become much rarer because of MS Teams/Zoom. 
What everyone has in our office is a dark gray or black (in German we count charcoal as black, navy is not so popular with most lawyers) suit hanging in the office, should an unscheduled appointment be necessary.
What is rare, however, are suits made of corduroy, linen, etc. Corduroy or linen jackets as separates, on the other hand, are not.


Hi Simon, Good suggestion on knits with corduroy. I really like my games blazer, but sometimes times feel a little like someone in academia ( as represented extra in Morse or Endeavour in the U.K. !) , nothing wrong with that btw, just feel I’m stealing their hard earned professionalism. This is a nice solution without veering to much to country style. Do you think it has to be a stand collar or ok if flat as long as it sits close to the neck?
Thanks again for another good idea.


Thank you Simon


Hope you are well.
I just want to check is it possible to wear a structured jacket with jeans or smart casual? I am just wondering if the padding or sharp lining would look awkward.
thanks in advance for your help


Obviously interesting. That is a jean Gabin style, so you can’t go wrong.
Would you consider wearing a wool-silk bandana around you neck with that kind of outfit? I think it may be interesting


For the last few years, wearing a supima cotton roll-neck or long-sleeve polo under sport coats and casual suits has been a go-to pairing for me, and one that I find comfortable, casual, and flattering. Knits have inherent stretch and mobility, don’t require ironing, and it’s easy to incorporate ‘non-standard’ colours such as black, charcoal, brown, navy, burgundy and forest green under your jacket. As you said, the key with collared knits is finding one with enough structure to stand up.
Perhaps it’s because I work in post-secondary administration and am (barely) under 40 that I don’t find this look to be overly fashion-forward, and the photos in this article have provided some wonderful inspiration of colour & texture pairings. It’s honestly one of the only ways I can see being able to continue to incorporate tailored clothing into my life, as the bar (geographically and industry-wise) is now so low that anything more structured or formal is viewed almost as cosplay.

James I. Laursen

Hello Simon,
Enjoy your posts…The cord suit is a terrific look. In the cold barrens of a Minnesota winter with a complimentary toned-down Fair Isle sweater vest and bdo shirt would be a look I would wear. (Possibly a chunky black turtleneck as well with black brogues)
Have not owned a cord suit in many years – you’ve got me thinking.


I love the Dartmoor but you can for obvious reasons dont offer them in all colors. Do you have any opinion about the cashmere-silk long sleeved polos from Saman Amel and Luca Faloni? Would they work with suit or sport coat?