Suit without a tie – go casual

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 22.6.2017 in General

I don’t often wear suit without a tie. But sometimes it is in place to do so. In this post I take look how to wear a suit without tie and what things you need to consider when you do so.

When you wear a business suit – you should wear a tie. That’s a rule one should follow almost all times. Only in case you are wearing a very light weight and unstructured suit you can try and leave out the tie. And do that only for some casual office day purposes. But in case you are wearing a classic business suit for formal occasions, wear a tie with it. Especially if the suit features padded shoulders, ticket pocket, heavy structure or a pattern such as pin- or chalk-stripe.

Suit without a tie - olive green cotton suit with denim shirt
To pull off the suit without a tie look – keep the suit casual enough.

If you want to wear a suit without a tie, keep these five things in mind:

  • Dressing up is all about context – be aware of the environment and occasion
  • Choose a suit with lightweight construction and casual details
  • Choose a shirt that is made of fabric with a more casual vibe. Soft oxford, denim or chambray are good options
  • Always keep the top two buttons – not just the top button – unbuttoned.
  • Don’t wear an undershirt – or keep it hidden
Suit without tie - keep it casual
Olive green suit with denim shirt and silk pocket square.

How to wear suit without tie

However there are suits and occasions when you can wear a suit without a tie. The more casual the suit – the more appropriate it is to wear that way. For example a camel-colored cotton suit with patch pockets and lightweight construction definitely works without a tie as well. So when you make those decisions, pay attention the details and to the whole look. In the end the mirror will tell you whether it is alright to go tieless.

Cotton suit without tie
If you wear a suit without a tie, make sure the collar of the shirt features a nice roll.

Lardini cotton-silk suit – casual without a tie

The suit below is made of fabric featuring cotton, silk and a little amount of polyester by Lardini. The color is somewhere between olive green and very light beige. It is a very summerish option, appropriate to be worn with different shades of blue or white shirts for example. Olive green in general is a good option if you are looking for a casual suit. First of all it is easy to pair with different colors. Secondly, it brings variation to more business-oriented suit options.

Suit without a tie - cotton suit with superga sneakers
Cotton suit with denim shirt and white Superga sneakers.

As you can see, here I chose to wear sneakers with the suit. It could be said that the same “rules” mentioned above apply to that as well. So most of times when you think it’s alright not wear a tie with a suit – it is also alright to wear sneakers with that suit. A business-suit combined with a tie and sneakers is not a preferable option. Don’t do that.

Choose the right shirt with your suit

One more thing to consider – in addition to whether to wear a tie or not and what kind of footwear is appropriate – is the shirt you wear. In case you are opting for a more casual look, drop the most formal button-ups and rather go for chambray or denim, shirts with soft collars. Popover shirts as well are a good option for this kind of attires. As always – the most important thing is that the pieces you are wearing are in balance with each other.

The most important thing in terms of your shirt is the collar. When you don’t wear a tie, your collar is what frames your face. So avoid shirts with gaping, flimsy collars. Those don’t look crisp and they don’t adequately frame your face. Invest in a good, soft collar that will hold its shape. Button-down collars are a good option here.

Casual suit without tie - green cotton suit and denim shirt is a perfect combination for summer
Green cotton suit and denim shirt is a perfect combination for summer.

Button your shirt correctly

Because the shirt is not bound by a tie you need to unbutton the buttons of your shirt. And in this regard, it is preferential how many buttons of your shirt you unbutton. The main rule is that the more buttons you have unbuttoned, the more casual and daring the look will be. In terms of this fact you should be mindful of your environment, other people and the overall mood of the occasion. If you want to go for the full “Italian gigolo”, three of four might be your choice. My recommendation for most of the occasions when you wear a suit without a tie is this: unbutton two buttons. In most cases, more than two is too much. But never unbutton just the top button.

Suit without tie - denim shirt collar details
Denim shirt collar and shoulder details.

The business suit without a tie

I said it in the beginning, when you wear a business suit – you should wear a tie. But now I will give an example of when you can ditch the tie. I have never really been a fan of these looks when you after the day in the office just take off your tie and then continue with the same look. But if you have the right pieces, this is possible and even appropriate. This outfit here is actually an outfit which you could wear for wedding party just by adding a silver grenadine tie into it.

All the books and guides about menswear say that when you wear a jacket with a breast pocket, you should wear a pocket square. But in my opinion, if you wear a suit without a tie, that’s not mandatory. Actually if you leave out the pocket square, it can make the outfit even more casual. If you decide to wear one, pick something simple. Many guys advice to use a bright and colorful, patterned pocket square with this kind of outfits. But in my opinion, you need to pay attention to the balance of your attire.

If you have a very casual suit like the olive or camel colored cotton suit featured here, you can go for bolder colors and patterns. But if you wear a simple and plain blue suit for example, I personally would go (as I have here) for a restrained white linen pocket square. Or I would ditch the whole square.

Suit without tie - details of olive green cotton suit and denim shirt
With casual cotton suit and denim shirt you can choose a pocket square with more contrast and color.

Suit trousers can make difference

The most important thins however when you wear a business suit without a tie is the construction and details of your suit. If you have a suit with padded shoulders and more loose overall fit, wear it with a tie. Also, remember that it is not just the jacket that makes your suit. In my opinion, if you want to wear a suit without a tie, opt for trousers that you don’t need to wear a belt with. Especially if the suit is more formal and business-oriented by nature. Trousers with higher waist and even pleats are in my opinion easier to wear without a tie, even though the suit in general would be more appropriate for business occasions.

Blue business without tie - Trousers with double pleats and higher waist
Suit featuring trousers with higher waist and side adjusters is easier to wear without a tie.

Sum up – 5 different suit without a tie looks

It is said that a suit is the ultimate flattering garment for a man. In most cases you should wear a tie with it but there are occasions when you can go without. And for sure it can be a clean look, especially for evenings and summer. And it is always better option to wear a suit without a tie than wear a tie without a jacket.

But this kind of attires and looks can easily become sloppy, so make sure you’re sharp. And keep the outfit in balance. As a sum-up here are five combinations to make you look good in a suit without wearing a tie.

  1. Navy blue linen suit with white lightweight and soft oxford shirt and brown suede penny loafers. No pocket square.
  2. Camel colored cotton suit with denim shirt, patterned wool-silk pocket square with blue background color and white classic canvas sneakers
  3. Royal blue hopsack wool double-breasted suit with white shirt, dark blue linen socks, white linen pocket square and dark brown tassel loafers
  4. Olive green cotton suit with light blue striped  button-down shirt, white pocket square and slip-on sneakers
  5. Light brown solaro suit with light blue lighweight oxford shirt, burgundy patterned cotton-silk pocket square and brown suede belgian loafers

Casual suit without tie - Lardini suit with Massimo Dutti denim shirt and p.johnson tailors pocket square