The combination of a jacket and tie has been a staple of menswear for nearly 200 years and whether it be a suit jacket, sport coat, or blazer, the purpose of a jacket is, of course, to flatter the male form.
A well fitting jacket will make your shoulders and your chest look broader and your waist look slimmer thus idealizing your silhouette but these days, as the average daily outfit for a man is becoming less and less formal, the temptation does arise to leave the jacket at home. This does beg the question then, should a man skip the jacket if he so wishes and wear just a dress shirt and tie?
Our short answer here is that this isn’t a look we would recommend for most men. We will cement that position shortly but first, let’s at least give a little bit of time to some potential arguments in favor of the look:
- It is, of course, more casual to skip the jacket and just wear the shirt and tie than to have the jacket on. Although if you are going for a more casual vibe, we’ll have some suggestions on better ways to pull it off.
- Practically speaking, it can get hot during the summer months and by removing your jacket, you’d have one fewer layer on your body and thus theoretically, stay cooler. With that said though, we also have a workaround for this.
- The shirt, tie, and no jacket look have become something of an established dress code for a few different professions over the years. Of course, for many people, it conjures up images of the aerospace engineers at NASA in the 1960s and it remains a popular dress code in the Engineering profession, even today. What’s the reasoning behind this then? Well, according to various comments from Engineers in different menswear forums online, it’s about striking a balance between white collar and blue collar aesthetics. While wearing true business casual attire in an Engineering setting might be seen as too self-conscious and vain, going in full-out work wear would still be seen as too unprofessional. In other words, it’s about looking like you would be ready to get your hands dirty if you needed to even though you might just be spending most of your day at a computer. So in the case of this specific industry, we do think it’s okay for the engineers to uphold their unique sartorial traditions. But if you’re in another line of work, we would suggest the following alternatives instead.
Why Isn’t It A Good Look?
Simply stated, it’s because doing this is usually going to make your overall outfit look incomplete. The trifecta of a shirt, tie, and a jacket has been the standard for men for centuries and it’s still the default in most people’s minds. Even though things are getting less and less formal these days, subconsciously, having all three of those elements is still seen as the standard. Therefore, if you remove one of these three key elements, your outfit isn’t going to just be less formal, it’s also going to feel lacking.
In our past video, we said that you could wear shirts with jackets and no ties but it was best to do this in less formal situations with individual garments that are more casual, overall. The biggest difference here though and why we think wearing a shirt and jacket is better than a shirt and tie is because, on a fundamental level, a jacket is outerwear or a core piece of your wardrobe whereas a tie is ultimately still going to be an accessory. As such, while you won’t be completing the trifecta when just wearing a shirt and jacket, you’re still going to look more complete and more put together than if you wear just the shirt and tie. Remember also that the jacket is going to flatter your form more, so that’s another plus for including it when you’re only going to choose two elements.
Returning to the arguments we made at the beginning, let’s get into our specific rebuttals of those points:
- There are going to be very few situations outside of these selected career fields that we mentioned earlier where a man would need to dress formally enough to have a tie on but informally enough to not wear a jacket. In other words, if a jacket is required in a given situation, wearing a tie would almost never be prohibited and if you are still trying to look casual, there are a number of different more casual jacket styles available in terms of colors, patterns, textures, and so on. Meanwhile, if a tie isn’t required as part of a specific dress code, a jacket almost certainly isn’t going to be either. So in those cases, we’d simply recommend that you don’t wear the jacket or the tie and just wear your shirt with an unbuttoned collar.
- If you’d like to strike an even more delicate balance of formality and go for something firmly within the smart casual dress code, you could consider wearing a shirt and tie and then also wearing a sweater as the outer layer. And while wearing vests as their own outer layer has become a popular look in the last couple of decades, we’d advise against doing this as well. After all, waistcoats were designed to be a middle layer and as such, they give off a similarly incomplete vibe when worn otherwise.
- It’s all about the weave. There are a number of breathable and lightweight weaves available for jackets that would keep you just as cool as if you forewent an outer layer.
The Best Way To Pull Off A Shirt & Tie Look
If you are dead set on doing it, we will say that you can but you just have to make sure that you can get some key details right. In the broad strokes, you’re going to need a shirt that fits you well and the appropriate type of tie. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when the jacket was a mandatory part of a man’s everyday wardrobe, it was expected that the jacket would flatter a man’s silhouette and because of this, shirts could be more generously cut.
Today though, as jackets are increasingly left at home and shirts are worn as an outer layer, it’s most important that you have a shirt that fits close but comfortably to your body with no collar gapping or muffin top at your waistline. As such, buying slim fit shirts would be a wise choice for many men, as well as taking the shirts in to get further alterations as necessary.
Turning now to the tie, solid-colored ties with some texture in the weave, perhaps a grenadine, shantung silk, or a knit would be a good choice. Also, casual patterns like dots, checks, and some varieties of repp stripes will be similarly casual. Just make sure that your patterns between your shirt and tie as well as your colors between the two are working harmoniously.
Wearing a tie bar in this circumstance would serve you particularly well. Part of the reasoning behind having your jacket buttoned when standing or moving around is that it will keep your tie in place but if you don’t have a jacket to accomplish this, wearing something like a tie bar would be even more important. After all, you don’t want your tie flapping around in the wind or getting caught in your soup.
Finally, let’s talk about the best way to pull off a shirt and tie with no jacket which is actually to have the jacket with you but just to take it off at appropriate times. Stated another way, if you have all three of your core elements on hand at the beginning of the day or when greeting people for the first time, it will cement in their minds that your outfit does in fact have three pieces so you’ll be at liberty to take one of them off if you so choose.
Following this strategy pays mind to the classic tenets of menswear and make sure you’ll be prepared for different kinds of situations throughout the day but you can also indulge in that wish to wear a shirt and tie without a jacket if you so choose.