Q & Answer: Can I Wear A Suit Without A Tie?
John asks: I work for a large multinational company. I see a lot of management, including C-level execs, wearing jackets without ties. I know how PTO feels about ties without jackets, and I agree, but what about the opposite?  When is it OK to wear a jacket but not a tie with your shirt unbuttoned? What’s the point?
You’re right: we generally think the tie-without-coat look is goofy. Makes you look, at best, like a bank teller. But the reverse? A-OK.
Here are some ways to make it work and some things to remember:
A suit is the ultimate flattering garment for a man; subtracting the tie doesn’t change that (much).  As you can see on Tom Ford, above, it can be a clean look, especially for evening.
A button-down collar shirt goes great with a soft, American-style casual sportcoat or blazer. With or without tie. It’s a classic casual look. Throw a sweater underneath and you’ve gone Full Granduncle.
Is a suit with no tie appropriate for business? Well, that depends on the business. It’s certainly a better look than the aforementioned tie-no-coat thing. If the executives are wearing it, it’ll probably fly.
It’s easier for this look to become sloppy, so make sure you’re sharp, like Ford, and not a hot mess.
Not all shirts are created equal here. As we mentioned: with more casual coats, like tweed, hopsack and flannel, a button-down collar is great. With sharper, more formal clothes, like Ford’s solid navy suit, you want a shirt collar that’s on the stiffer and taller side, with longer points. You don’t want it slipping under your jacket.
Remember, as Ford did above, that no tie doesn’t have to mean no pocket square. In fact, a tie-less look benefits immensely from that extra bit of “I care.”

Q & Answer: Can I Wear A Suit Without A Tie?

John asks: I work for a large multinational company. I see a lot of management, including C-level execs, wearing jackets without ties. I know how PTO feels about ties without jackets, and I agree, but what about the opposite?  When is it OK to wear a jacket but not a tie with your shirt unbuttoned? What’s the point?

You’re right: we generally think the tie-without-coat look is goofy. Makes you look, at best, like a bank teller. But the reverse? A-OK.

Here are some ways to make it work and some things to remember:

  • A suit is the ultimate flattering garment for a man; subtracting the tie doesn’t change that (much).  As you can see on Tom Ford, above, it can be a clean look, especially for evening.
  • A button-down collar shirt goes great with a soft, American-style casual sportcoat or blazer. With or without tie. It’s a classic casual look. Throw a sweater underneath and you’ve gone Full Granduncle.
  • Is a suit with no tie appropriate for business? Well, that depends on the business. It’s certainly a better look than the aforementioned tie-no-coat thing. If the executives are wearing it, it’ll probably fly.
  • It’s easier for this look to become sloppy, so make sure you’re sharp, like Ford, and not a hot mess.
  • Not all shirts are created equal here. As we mentioned: with more casual coats, like tweed, hopsack and flannel, a button-down collar is great. With sharper, more formal clothes, like Ford’s solid navy suit, you want a shirt collar that’s on the stiffer and taller side, with longer points. You don’t want it slipping under your jacket.
  • Remember, as Ford did above, that no tie doesn’t have to mean no pocket square. In fact, a tie-less look benefits immensely from that extra bit of “I care.”
Expensive Things: Not Getting Any Cheaper
For years I’ve put off buying one of J. Press’s “Shaggy Dog” shetland sweaters—the fuzzed, Scotland-made wool crewneck that’s a winter standard at Press, that most glacial of men’s stores. I first handled one in the D.C. Press store in 2006 (I think; that’s when I discovered we had a J. Press here), and even bought one as a gift, but always figured I’d pick one up for myself when I had a little extra cash or when sale season hit.
In the meantime I’ve recommended the sweaters as an unassailable classic—made well and in the traditional country of manufacture, resistant to both chilly fall breezes and trends, even a good value at $165. Well, $165 in 2010. $165 in 2009, too. In 2013? $230. You can pay another $15 for the York Street version, although it’s not immediately clear what that buys you.
Clothing prices are significantly outpacing inflation, with men’s clothing leading the way. Anecdotally, I’ve heard this attributed to raw material price increases (e.g., cotton and wool) and the scarcity and increasing expense of quality manufacturing. The takeaway here isn’t necessarily “buy more now”; it’s risky if not foolish to treat clothing as you would treat a financial investment, although thoughtful consideration of how much value you get out of your clothing can help determine what’s affordable for you. The truth, though, is that what’s not affordable for you now is not rushing to become affordable for you in the near future.
-Pete

Expensive Things: Not Getting Any Cheaper

For years I’ve put off buying one of J. Press’s “Shaggy Dog” shetland sweaters—the fuzzed, Scotland-made wool crewneck that’s a winter standard at Press, that most glacial of men’s stores. I first handled one in the D.C. Press store in 2006 (I think; that’s when I discovered we had a J. Press here), and even bought one as a gift, but always figured I’d pick one up for myself when I had a little extra cash or when sale season hit.

In the meantime I’ve recommended the sweaters as an unassailable classic—made well and in the traditional country of manufacture, resistant to both chilly fall breezes and trends, even a good value at $165. Well, $165 in 2010. $165 in 2009, too. In 2013? $230. You can pay another $15 for the York Street version, although it’s not immediately clear what that buys you.

Clothing prices are significantly outpacing inflation, with men’s clothing leading the way. Anecdotally, I’ve heard this attributed to raw material price increases (e.g., cotton and wool) and the scarcity and increasing expense of quality manufacturing. The takeaway here isn’t necessarily “buy more now”; it’s risky if not foolish to treat clothing as you would treat a financial investment, although thoughtful consideration of how much value you get out of your clothing can help determine what’s affordable for you. The truth, though, is that what’s not affordable for you now is not rushing to become affordable for you in the near future.

-Pete

Lunch with the FT eats with Tadashi Yanai, owner of Fast Retailing and Uniqlo. It’s a slightly surprising interview in which both the FT editor, David Pilling, and Yanai are uncommonly frank. They discuss labor practices, Uniqlo’s potentially self-dectructive ubiquity, and globalization. 
“‘Some European people tend to believe that these labourers are being exploited and deprived of their human rights and that, therefore, what they need is a strong union,’ he says, waving away imaginary agitators. ‘But in my opinion, unless each one of those labourers and all the people in Bangladesh can stand on their own feet they will have no future.’”
-Pete

Lunch with the FT eats with Tadashi Yanai, owner of Fast Retailing and Uniqlo. It’s a slightly surprising interview in which both the FT editor, David Pilling, and Yanai are uncommonly frank. They discuss labor practices, Uniqlo’s potentially self-dectructive ubiquity, and globalization.

“‘Some European people tend to believe that these labourers are being exploited and deprived of their human rights and that, therefore, what they need is a strong union,’ he says, waving away imaginary agitators. ‘But in my opinion, unless each one of those labourers and all the people in Bangladesh can stand on their own feet they will have no future.’”

-Pete

Neiman Marcus, the century-old Dallas-based luxury retailer, may be sold to a partnership of private equity and the Canadian Pension Plan (which is exactly what it sounds like). NM currently carries some of the most refined (and expensive) menswear in the world with brands like Brunello Cucinelli, Kiton, and Maison Martin Margiela, and the store has long been known for its intentionally ridiculous Christmas catalogs, a brilliant marketing strategy started in the 1950s. Every year items like personal blimps or your likeness in Legos drum up boundless publicity (and some derision) for the store.
A change in ownership may not affect much, since the founding family sold NM in the 1960s and it has been owned by private equity firms for years. In addition to 41 Neiman Marcus stores and dozens of discount Last Call locations, Neiman Marcus also owns Bergdorf Goodman.
-Pete

Neiman Marcus, the century-old Dallas-based luxury retailer, may be sold to a partnership of private equity and the Canadian Pension Plan (which is exactly what it sounds like). NM currently carries some of the most refined (and expensive) menswear in the world with brands like Brunello Cucinelli, Kiton, and Maison Martin Margiela, and the store has long been known for its intentionally ridiculous Christmas catalogs, a brilliant marketing strategy started in the 1950s. Every year items like personal blimps or your likeness in Legos drum up boundless publicity (and some derision) for the store.

A change in ownership may not affect much, since the founding family sold NM in the 1960s and it has been owned by private equity firms for years. In addition to 41 Neiman Marcus stores and dozens of discount Last Call locations, Neiman Marcus also owns Bergdorf Goodman.

-Pete

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the cost of a domestically-produced pair of premium blue jeans. Ignore the fact that this is a laughable play for the unadorned, “authentic” market by True Religion. The numbers are fascinating. The markups here are significant, but not ridiculous. There are overhead significant costs that aren’t listed here - not least of which is marketing.
Among the other interesting findings is that only 1% of the jeans market is for jeans that cost more than $50.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the cost of a domestically-produced pair of premium blue jeans. Ignore the fact that this is a laughable play for the unadorned, “authentic” market by True Religion. The numbers are fascinating. The markups here are significant, but not ridiculous. There are overhead significant costs that aren’t listed here - not least of which is marketing.

Among the other interesting findings is that only 1% of the jeans market is for jeans that cost more than $50.

Brunello Cucinelli has built his cashmere empire in a village castle in Italy.  The clothes are spectacular if you have a taste for soft finishes and soft tailoring, but even at Loehmann’s prices they’re spectacularly expensive.  According to the BBC, that’s in part to fund schools, churches and a theater in the town the factory occupies.

Brunello Cucinelli has built his cashmere empire in a village castle in Italy.  The clothes are spectacular if you have a taste for soft finishes and soft tailoring, but even at Loehmann’s prices they’re spectacularly expensive.  According to the BBC, that’s in part to fund schools, churches and a theater in the town the factory occupies.