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WEARING A COLLARED SHIRT WITHOUT A TIE

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WEARING A COLLARED SHIRT WITHOUT A TIE

by David Isle

The most important part of an outfit is the part nearest to the face. In a coat-and-tie outfit, the shirt collar, lapels, and tie knot together form an arrow that direct attention to the face. 

As ties have become less common, men are faced more and more with the prospect of wearing a collared shirt open-necked. This putative simplification presents its own problems, which you can observe in the picture below, or on the neck of the majority of men walking the streets of any downtown in America.

Without a tie to hold it high, the shirt collar sags and flattens. The first problem with this is that if you are wearing a crew-necked undershirt, it is now exposed. This is only marginally more acceptable than the waistband of your underwear peeking over the beltloops of your trousers. I prefer to avoid this by eschewing an undershirt entirely, but a v-necked undershirt works just as well. I would recommend getting light grey rather than white, as it reflects less light and therefore shows through less. 

The second problem is that the sagging collar makes a poor frame for your face. It's an exaggerated rendition of a low collar band, which is also problematic. The solution is to wear a button-down collar, as in the third picture above. The buttons keep the collar points in place, which in turn keeps the collar band high, as in the picture at the top of this post. 

The button-down collar is also a less formal collar style, since its original purpose was to keep collars from flapping around while their wearers played polo. So it's a nice partner to the informality of a tie-less outfit. But for the same reason, it's not ideal for fancy evenings. If I'm going out somewhere nice on the weekend, usually a tie will be too formal, but the utilitarian sportiness of an oxford cloth button-down would clash with the lustrous elegance of a velvet jacket.

In this case, use a collar with less spread. If the collar has too much spread, the points will be angled almost behind you when unbuttoned:

A collar with less spread will stay more upright:

Since it's after hours, you can also channel your inner Tom Ford and undo another button, which lengthens the vertical line coming down from collar band. 

Or you could avoid all these problems and just wear a tie. 

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