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.”
I had a live taping of my public radio show, Bullseye, Friday night in Pasadena. My wife gave birth that morning at 3:30, so I was pretty exhausted, but thanks to some great guests, things ended up going quite well. Joining me were the brilliant June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, Jasper Redd and the superb band The Internet.
On stage is one of the rare opportunities I have to wear a suit, and I rarely miss the chance. This one’s a vintage number from Alan Flusser Custom. Not custom for me - it was a shop sample. You can see even in this seated picture that it has a classic silhouette - strong shoulders and a nipped waist. In classic Flusser fashion, it does have a dandy touch, though - take a look at the turn back cuffs. A plain white shirt, white linen pocket square (PTO’s own) and a black wool tie by E. Tautz completed the ensemble. Oh, and a silk flower. At night, I try to keep it clean.
The episode’ll air in about two weeks. If you’re not already subscribed to Bullseye, head over to iTunes and do it now. I think you’ll like it.

I had a live taping of my public radio show, Bullseye, Friday night in Pasadena. My wife gave birth that morning at 3:30, so I was pretty exhausted, but thanks to some great guests, things ended up going quite well. Joining me were the brilliant June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, Jasper Redd and the superb band The Internet.

On stage is one of the rare opportunities I have to wear a suit, and I rarely miss the chance. This one’s a vintage number from Alan Flusser Custom. Not custom for me - it was a shop sample. You can see even in this seated picture that it has a classic silhouette - strong shoulders and a nipped waist. In classic Flusser fashion, it does have a dandy touch, though - take a look at the turn back cuffs. A plain white shirt, white linen pocket square (PTO’s own) and a black wool tie by E. Tautz completed the ensemble. Oh, and a silk flower. At night, I try to keep it clean.

The episode’ll air in about two weeks. If you’re not already subscribed to Bullseye, head over to iTunes and do it now. I think you’ll like it.

(Source: jessethorn)

“Let’s face it: I’m sixty-two years old, gray-haired and paunchy. Wearing a suit makes me look as good as I am ever going to look.” Baltimore Sun editor John McIntyre on why he still dresses up for work.
EFFECTIVE suit style via The New Yorker's Currency blog, which recently highlighted ads targeting the high earners of the 1920s. For reference, $55 in 1926 is roughly equivalent to $725 in 2013, and Finchley was a well-regarded men’s shop in the same league as Brooks Brothers.
-Pete

EFFECTIVE suit style via The New Yorker's Currency blog, which recently highlighted ads targeting the high earners of the 1920s. For reference, $55 in 1926 is roughly equivalent to $725 in 2013, and Finchley was a well-regarded men’s shop in the same league as Brooks Brothers.

-Pete

Real People: Gray for leisure

The iron-fisted enforcement of business casual office dress codes means many of us wear suits mostly for non-work occasions, if we wear suits at all. Rob in Los Angeles has a great casual wardrobe, but in compiling a post about it I stumbled on these photos of Rob suited up in gray in non-business settings and was struck by the easiness and elegance of Rob’s suits and accessories, which are neither obsessively businesslike nor sprezzatura’d beyond all relief.

In the top photo, Rob’s peak lapel suit in a dark gray worsted wool could be quite formal, but that formality is undercut by a matte wool tie, brown rather than black balmorals, and holiday-season-appropriate red socks. Rob’s suit in the other photos is a wonderful high-twist twill, that looks equally good with a white shirt and brown shoes as with more evening appropriate (though not, you know, by “the rules” evening appropriate) black monk strap shoes and an ice blue shirt. Again, Rob sticks with matte wool ties, which along with the cloth make that suit look downright cozy. The trouser length is a little longer than many men are choosing in the post-Thom-Browne era, but note that when Rob is seated his trouser cuff doesn’t ride halfway up his leg.

And regarding timelessness—these shots were taken a few years ago (the top shot in 2007), and they all look great right now.

—Pete

When You Need It NOW! (You Shoulda Got It THEN!)
A huge portion of the emails I get at Put This On are about men who NEED IT NOW! They’ve just been invited to a black tie gala, they’re headed to a summer wedding this weekend, they have a state funeral to attend, they finally got a job interview with the firm they’ve been targeting. So they want to know: how can they save money and buy something great today?
The truth is: it’s impossible. You can go to Barney’s or Nordstrom or Brooks Brothers, beg for on-the-spot alterations, and walk out with something that works, but let me assure you: you will pay full price. And I’ll add that if you don’t live within easy access of those stores, you may well be plum out of luck.
So the solution is pretty simple: be prepared. Not for every eventuality, but for the few that you’re almost certain to encounter.
If you have black dress shoes, a solid gray suit, a white shirt and both a navy and black tie, you’re all set for almost any eventuality. A wedding, a funeral, a job interview.
These should be conservative, and fit. You can thrift them, eBay them, buy them on sale or buy them at full price. But if you’re a grown man, you will need these things. Often on short notice.
If your lifestyle means black tie is a regular occurrence - say once a year or more - then a black tie rig is worth owning as well. Give yourself the time you need to find exactly what you want at the price you want to pay, but do it now, not later.
Great-Uncles don’t die on your schedule, and once-in-a-lifetime job interviews don’t happen right when you expect them. So be prepared.

When You Need It NOW! (You Shoulda Got It THEN!)

A huge portion of the emails I get at Put This On are about men who NEED IT NOW! They’ve just been invited to a black tie gala, they’re headed to a summer wedding this weekend, they have a state funeral to attend, they finally got a job interview with the firm they’ve been targeting. So they want to know: how can they save money and buy something great today?

The truth is: it’s impossible. You can go to Barney’s or Nordstrom or Brooks Brothers, beg for on-the-spot alterations, and walk out with something that works, but let me assure you: you will pay full price. And I’ll add that if you don’t live within easy access of those stores, you may well be plum out of luck.

So the solution is pretty simple: be prepared. Not for every eventuality, but for the few that you’re almost certain to encounter.

If you have black dress shoes, a solid gray suit, a white shirt and both a navy and black tie, you’re all set for almost any eventuality. A wedding, a funeral, a job interview.

These should be conservative, and fit. You can thrift them, eBay them, buy them on sale or buy them at full price. But if you’re a grown man, you will need these things. Often on short notice.

If your lifestyle means black tie is a regular occurrence - say once a year or more - then a black tie rig is worth owning as well. Give yourself the time you need to find exactly what you want at the price you want to pay, but do it now, not later.

Great-Uncles don’t die on your schedule, and once-in-a-lifetime job interviews don’t happen right when you expect them. So be prepared.

The Eighties Drape Suit
When I wear tailored clothing I lean toward a trim silhouette and the lineage of the midcentury Brooks Brothers/J. Press cut. Not that I’m unique; this describes me and maybe half of the American men who’ve bought new suits in the last three or four years. But in favoring these modern versions of “trad” or “ivy” looks, it’s tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.
This 1988 New York magazine article on custom tailoring makes the case that 1980s suits were not sloppy or oversized—they were carefully considered exercises in proportion, calculated Savile Row influence, and aspirational dressing. The article trots out some hoary old chestnuts about the wonders of going the custom route, but it’s a wonderfully in-depth piece (15 pages—6 of them full, glorious, three-column, no-ad pages!), and I found this illustration of “the eighties drape suit” especially enlightening. Twenty-five years ago, this Alan Flusser suit represented the ideal: extended shoulders; a full chest; low-slung, six-button (one working) stance; wipe lapels; no vent; and full, pleated trousers with more of a break than Pitti Uomo has seen in this side of the year 2000.
This cut was the pinnacle of good taste at the time, visually referencing to the elegance of British tailoring as described by Flusser in his influential  books, Making the Man (1981) and Clothes and the Man (1985). I’d bet many men who asked for this cut at their tailor in 1988 wanted something timeless, just like many of us do today when we buy two-button, natural shoulder suits. The piece also cites Richard Merkin on Flusser and his drape suits: “He produces very haughty and snappy clothes with a wonderful arrogance about them.” 
-Pete

The Eighties Drape Suit

When I wear tailored clothing I lean toward a trim silhouette and the lineage of the midcentury Brooks Brothers/J. Press cut. Not that I’m unique; this describes me and maybe half of the American men who’ve bought new suits in the last three or four years. But in favoring these modern versions of “trad” or “ivy” looks, it’s tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.

This 1988 New York magazine article on custom tailoring makes the case that 1980s suits were not sloppy or oversized—they were carefully considered exercises in proportion, calculated Savile Row influence, and aspirational dressing. The article trots out some hoary old chestnuts about the wonders of going the custom route, but it’s a wonderfully in-depth piece (15 pages—6 of them full, glorious, three-column, no-ad pages!), and I found this illustration of “the eighties drape suit” especially enlightening. Twenty-five years ago, this Alan Flusser suit represented the ideal: extended shoulders; a full chest; low-slung, six-button (one working) stance; wipe lapels; no vent; and full, pleated trousers with more of a break than Pitti Uomo has seen in this side of the year 2000.

This cut was the pinnacle of good taste at the time, visually referencing to the elegance of British tailoring as described by Flusser in his influential  books, Making the Man (1981) and Clothes and the Man (1985). I’d bet many men who asked for this cut at their tailor in 1988 wanted something timeless, just like many of us do today when we buy two-button, natural shoulder suits. The piece also cites Richard Merkin on Flusser and his drape suits: “He produces very haughty and snappy clothes with a wonderful arrogance about them.” 

-Pete

“[Tom Wolfe] arrived wearing the white ensemble he is noted for—a white modified homburg, a chalk-white overcoat—but to the surprise of regular customers looking up from their tables, he removed the coat to disclose a light-brown suit set off by a pale lilac tie. Questioned about the light-brown suit, he replied: ‘Shows that I’m versatile.’” — George Plimpton in the Paris Review

(Source: theparisreview.org)

Savile Row, 1939

This article from England’s defunct Picture Post magazine depicts the process of ordering and making a suit at Williams, Sullivan, & Co., a firm that occupied 12 Savile Row at the time of publication in 1939. Today the building houses Chittleborough and Morgan, formerly of Tommy Nutters’ shop, and the Scabal flagship store. (Check out a recent Chittleborough and Morgan suit in navy seersucker at Permanent Style.) Picture Post was a photo-heavy publication not unlike LIFE, and this piece gave the reader a glimpse into the clubby atmosphere of a tailor’s shop (for the customers, at least; the article mentions sewing girls making £3 a week—around £165 today).

"Even if you cannot tell an Englishman abroad by anything else, you can tell him by his suit. The suit may be old, it may have done a dozen years’ service, but its cut and the way it hangs on his body identify the owner as an Englishman."

-Pete

Real People: Summer Linen Suit

My friend gdl203 maintains a really nice thread on StyleForum where he reposts his favorite pictures that other members have posted of themselves. It’s a nice way to catch some of the best looks on StyleForum if you don’t have time to follow one of the many “What Are You Wearing Today” threads (where the activity can get quite busy). Gdl203 doesn’t update his thread often, but when he does, it’s always great.

His latest post came three days ago, and it’s of a StyleForum member in Germany named David. David is seen here attending an alumni mixer while wearing a khaki linen suit, blue and white candy stripe shirt, and a solid brown tie. For shoes, he has chestnut colored wingtips, which is a much more summery color than your standard dark browns.

I like how the stripes on his shirt break up the expanse of solid colors on his suit and tie. It adds a bit of variation where a solid blue shirt would have not. I also really appreciate how breathable the suit looks. Not only is it made from a pure linen, but it has three patch pockets. This allows it to do away with any lining that would otherwise be necessary to protect interior bags used for welted pockets. And though it’s hard to judge from a photo, the coat also looks quite soft, suggesting that the canvassing and chest piece inside are relatively thin. Having an unlined jacket with only a thin layer of material allows heat to escape more easily, thus letting the wearer stay as cool as possible. Useful if you, like me, get hot easily.

Of course, what I really like most are the wrinkles. While some people can’t stand how linen rumples and creases, I think the look imparts a certain carefree, natural charm. It suggests that the wearer himself is stylish, not that his clothes are perfect.