I get quite a few questions from guys that want to wear ties to the office, but are concerned that sporting a sport coat will draw too much attention. My go to recommendation for these scenarios is to suggest wearing a tie with a shawl collar sweater. In the recent weeks I have had several emails asking me this exact question which made me think that re-posting my “Shawl Collar Sweater with a Tie” post is a good idea. Without further ado, here it is (with a few additional images added at the end).
Shawl Collar with a Tie
I have been wearing a tie and jacket to work twice a week for over two years. When I began I was asked all the usual questions about meetings, job interviews, yada yada yada (Inspired by my trad-ish friend George Costanza). Those days are now in the distant past and my tie wearing ways now go unnoticed. During the course of the last two years I have tried quite a few different combinations and I have found that wearing a tie with a shawl collar sweater may be the easiest way to wear a tie in a business casual office.
What do I mean by easy? What I mean is that it will not elicit as many unwanted comments about why you are wearing a tie (at least it did not in my experience). This is probably because a sweater is much more informal than a blazer or sport coat, but also because the tie is mostly covered with a sweater so that it does not garner the same amount of attention that it would when worn with a jacket. Instead only a glimpse of the tie is given which is the perfect opportunity to wear an interesting emblematic ties such these: Ivy League Humor.
Not only does it make wearing a tie easy, but it looks good too. In general, I am not a fan of the sweater and tie look. I don’t love ties with a crewneck, because there is rarely any tie exposure and the knot usually makes the neck lay funny. A V-neck Shetland can look good, but the shawl collar’s strength is that it provides a background for the tie that is similar to the lapel of a jacket.
In preparation for this post I wore this look twice last week. The first time I wore it with cords and a wool-silk emblematic tie with ducks. I was very comfortable in this look. In my second example I went for a more urbane look. I wore grey wool pants and an old silk Brooksgate neat tie. Overall I found the sweater to be versatile.
The shawl collar is a good option for when you want to wear a tie in a business-casual setting such as an office or a nicer restaurant, but not a jacket. So, If you were contemplating wearing a shawl collar sweater and a tie I say go for it. If you want to wear a tie to your office, but are put off by the fuss it will receive try sneaking one in under a shawl collar sweater. If you want some cover for your Chipp FU tie it could be for you as well!
The leaves are turning, the temps are dropping, and you can order a pumpkin flavored anything. Fall is finally here and everyone is excited. For us trads, it is not so much the previous mentioned items as it is the return of layering, Shetland sweaters, and tweeds to mention a few. One item that I am especially excited for are foulard ties.
A Foulard (also called a neat) is a symmetrical pattern that consists of small-scale repeating shapes such as diamonds, dots, medallions, pines, and of course flowers. A foulard is technically a kind of light weight silk, but today the term is used interchangeably with neat.
Foulards are not strictly for fall/winter items. However, I find them to be a better fit for myself with a tweed than in the summer with a blazer and chinos. I do break them out if I am wearing grey wool trousers and blazer. If I had a chance to wear suits this would be another occasion to break out the foulards. Until then I will just enjoy them when the weather turn cool bringing out the tweeds and cords.
A Few More Foulard Ties
Finding a versatile piece of Fall outerwear can be tricky. A few years back I was looking for a jacket that I could wear in the Fall with my Shetlands sweaters as well as my sport coats. Something like my duffle coat, but not quite as warm.The answer turned out to be Barbour.
Barbour is well known and liked in Trad circles. These waxed cotton jackets conjure up images of country side hunting in a rugged Land Rover, but in reality they are more often used for cool rainy trips to the office. The fact that they perform well in either scenario gives them a lot of credibility. Combine this with their sporty English vibe and every trad’s inner anglophile longs for one.
There are lots of Barbour models out there. I have limited experience with the Brand. My Barbour jacket is a Beaufort (Thanks, Hardline 42!) It is a great model for me, it is long enough to pair with a sport coat, but not so long that it makes me look like a boy wearing his father’s coat. I would provide fit advice, but my jacket is from 1988 so I doubt that it is very relevant. For more up to date model and fit advice consult this Barbour buyers guide put together by Derek at Put this On. Check it out here: A Buyer’s Guide to Barbour
Over the last 6 months I have been making an effort to improve my casual rigs. First that meant that I had to re-adjust my thinking in terms of what casual actually means. What I already knew was that most people do not consider chinos quite as casual as us Trads making it a good place to start. I was not ready to go full denim so I started with a pair of 5-pocket cords.
I mentioned in last week’s post that I purchased a pair of J.Crew 5-pocket cords. Specifically I got the Vintage Cord in 770 fit. Previously I had shown the green pair (Island Pine), but I also purchased the khaki pair. I have not worn the green cords, but just yesterday I tried out the khaki ones.
In short, I could not be happier with them. The fit is slimmer with a narrower leg opening (7″ in on a size 30″ waist) and lower rise than the 1040 chinos that I wear to work, but this is exactly what I was looking for in casual pants (I did size up from a 29″ to 30″waist for those of you wondering). I wasn’t thrilled with the color right out of the box, but liked it while wearing them (I also think that they have lightened up after another wash. See second pic below for reference.). I paired them with a well worn OCBD, LL Bean Signature Blucher mocs, and topped it off with a pair of Wigwam socks.
5-pocket pants have never been my thing. I am not sure if it is the Steve McQueen connection (his style doesn’t do a whole lot for me), their period assocation, or if I was simply happy to just wear chinos instead. Whatever the case I now know that I was wrong, have discovered the joy of 5-pockets and the casual world that they have opened up to me. These 5-pocket cords in particular will pair well with my flannels, Wallabees, camp mocs, green bubble vest, and will fit right in with my fall tendency to draw on the late 70’s prep look (The Late 70’s Prep Check List).