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). Perhaps this is 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 like it 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 okay, 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 look that is more city. This time, 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!
As the summer came to a close last year I saw this picture of Prince Charles shown below. I thought that it was pretty fantastic. It had everything that I like in a cool weather rig including a tweed sport coat, tan corduroys and a boldly-colored striped tie. I was inspired. I used this inspiration to put together a few of my own fall/winter looks which I have shared below.
Inspired by the above
As you can see from the above, my rigs were not exact copies of the picture at all. For example, in the first picture I wore a navy blazer in place of the tweed, but kept the same color cords and a similar tie. In picture #2, I mimicked the jacket and trouser colors, but swapped out the tie. I opted for the OCBD in both situations to make it my own.
I took what I saw in the picture and subtracted that from what I already had in my closet then divided that by where I was going. While that is not the exact formula that I used it does give you an idea of how I turn inspiration into reality.
Just for Fun
(Based on last week’s post I thought that I would add this picture of my 3/2 roll jacket buttoned as a true 3 button jacket that I took for fun.)
I read quite a bit about clothes, but the resource that has been the most helpful to me in terms of putting together an outfit is people watching. This is why I try to share my own images as well as the images of other “real people” on the blog. My last piece of advice is to take note of combinations that you see in everyday life, magazines, and the internet that appeal to you and to replicate them. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.
When I transitioned from student life to the working world my wardrobe transitioned along with me. One of the first things that changed is that I no longer had a pressing need for casual clothes. Now when I went shopping if I saw a pair of broken-in chinos with distressing or a pre-faded OCBD it garnered a reaction of superiority from me. I would think to myslef, “I will wear out a pair of regular chinos and an OCBD soon enough. I do not need to wear pretend clothes or invest in worn-out clothes to look cool.” At least this is what I thought I at the time.
Fast forward a decade and I am not so sure that any of the above the above is true. A few months ago I was reading about the history of the 3/2 roll when I saw my self perceived ability to withstand the fashion industry’s attempts to influence me crumble before my eyes.
There are two schools of thoughts about the origin of the 3/2 roll. One school claims that the 3/2 roll was created to mimic the roll 3-button jackets often developed over time. The other school claims that the 3/2 roll was a unique feature that was not created to mimic a broken-in 3-button jacket. I won’t dive any deeper into the history at this point. The important part is to remember that one school sees the 3/2 roll as inauthentic as I see prefabricated broken-in chinos or distressed OCBD.
The next item to shake my convictions was the brushed Shetland (pictured above). I have heard many people claim that the brushed Shetlands were not created (and sought after) because it makes the rustic Shetland wool softer, but because the result looks similar to an old worn sweater. I have no proof of this either, but again it is a plausible argument.
What does all this mean? For me it means that I need to remember to be humble. While I want to think that I have transcended the reach of marketing and fashion I have not. The desire to look cool is still very much alive within me (and always will be) even if my idea of cool is very very square.
I love wearing cords. They come in great colors for fall and winter, they drape well, and to top it all off they are comfortable. Sounds just about perfect, right? I would have to agree, but lately I have been experiencing a little difficulty preserving the life of my cords which is concerning to say the least.
I was getting ready for work the other day when I noticed a worn out patch of wale on my cords. My immediate reaction was panic as I pictured a swarm of wild moths devouring my closet. Moments later I came to my senses when I remembered that cords are not moth food (they only eat animal fiber).
After ruling out moths and other cord lusting creatures as the cause of the wear to my cords I took a closer more studious look. After careful examination I came to the conclusion that there were only two patches of worn out cord on the trousers. Each patch is located one on the back of the leg about ¾ the way up the calf. Clearly rubbing is the culprit.
Now that I know the cause of the problem I have a new question: Is it my cords or is it cords? My Lands’ End cords that are over two years old look pretty bad (pictured above). My newest pair which only have about 1 year under their belt are showing wear as well. On the flip side, I have a pair of 18 wale cords that are 10 years old that do not have any of this wear. What gives?
Here are the questions that I am left with. Is the problem with my cords quality? Are wide wale cords more susceptible to wearing out than finer wale cords? Do I wear my cords exceptionally hard? Am I expecting too much life out of a pair of wide wale cords?