Pick Your Battles Wisely

Tweed Jacket with no tie

I wanted to start this blog off with a scary line like, “Ties are dying. It’s almost over.” That would be true, but it would also be misleading because ties have been dying for a long while right alongside of business dress in general. While there is us fighting the good battle for decency we must chose our battles wisely.
Blazer without TieThis post is specifically for all of my office dwelling brethren. Those of you who like myself yearn to wear 3/2 suits, repp ties, and tweed sport coats until our hearts are content. But there are the casual loving others and there are a lot of them. So while in the past I have said that no one is going to give you permission to wear a tie. You also have to know when it makes sense to fall in line and ditch the tie to further your career with the hope that it can return to us one day.
Tweed jacket and No TieI have learned that falling in line is important in two places at my current workplace. These places are large company meetings and client facing meetings with other important people. In my day-to-day I am pretty free to wear a tie as I please, but in the two areas I identified I keep the sport coat and lose the tie. If I am being completely honest I do not hate the look as much I thought that I would. Don’t forget that you can add a Shetland to kick up the trad a notch!

Tweed Sport Coat with Shetland SweaterI hope this does not read that I have given up the fight. I have not. I just want to do my duty to younger readers making there way in the world of work by giving good advice. If it is of any consolation I remember a post that Billax (Billax Posts) one of my style role models wrote about his time at a firm when he had to do the same thing and this was long ago!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

11 Comments on "Pick Your Battles Wisely"

  1. JoelVau says:

    Wise, but sad. Only hope is for trads to rise to CEO positions and turn the tie-d, so to speak. I once used this line on Ivy Style but it still applies, I am so glad that Weiner ended Mad Men before we had to watch Don Draper come to the office in a pair of chinos, Top Siders and a size L OCBD.

  2. Lennart says:

    I fully understand this, actually this look you are sporting in the pictures is my typical daily work outfit 🙂 However we have a new top manager now and he has raised the level a bit, not in a trad way but still suit and tie.

  3. FrontPorchLife says:

    Thanks for the post. I certainly understand the message you are getting across here. We have all heard the cliché “dress to impress”, however this rarely applies in many business-casual office settings. Example: by wearing a coat and tie every day, your co-workers and superiors will treat you differently (not in a positive way). You will be known as “the suit guy” (yes, they think any outfit with a coat is a suit) and they will be cracking jokes behind your back and to your face at times. As a result, you essentially alienate yourself making it harder to connect with those who could help advance your career.

    The goal is to be trad and casual at the same time. Fitting in with your casual coworkers is a matter of switching out the common casual items for their trad counterparts. Instead of jeans, wear khakis/corduroys; instead of a hoodie/athletic zip-up wear a Shetland crewneck, instead of sneakers wear camp mocs…

  4. Charlottesville says:

    I understand completely, Jerrod. It is funny/sad to reflect that when I was starting out in the mid 1980s some of my fellow lawyers chafed at the requirement that they wear ties and suits in the office. Now, the situation is reversed. I am happy to be in an environment where ties, while not required, are certainly acceptable and are worn regularly by a significant number my peers. Even without the tie, you look much better than 90% of the folks I see around town, including in offices.

  5. Old School says:

    Ditching a tie was once a sign of rebellion, now it’s a sign of conformity.

  6. Addison DeWitt says:

    @Charlottesville – I am currently between jobs. I went to the dentist this morning for my semi-annual checkup wearing a blue BB OCBD, Orvis Ultimate Khakis and LLB camp mocs. Oh, and a Barbour Bedale. I wear some variation of this outfit every day. The hygienist asked if I were headed to work after the appointment since I was clearly dressed for work. It doesn’t seem that long ago, although I guess it is, that I would not have dreamed of going to the office in anything but a suit.

  7. NCJack says:

    Sad to say that I think FrontPorchLife is right: wearing a tie in so many environments just starts the onlgoing, lame, clichéd “Watchoo all dressed UPfer?” litany. I can’t help but think that those who feel they must do that do understand that they are poorly dressed, don’t know how to do better, and are embarrassed by it. But, there it is, so…..

  8. Brendan Flaherty says:

    I work in technology in NY and New England, it seems this space ditched ties a long time ago…? I still wear ties to most meetings unless it is 90 degrees in the city then I might make an exception.

  9. Greg Summers says:

    @Addison DeWitt:
    Does your dentist dress properly?

  10. Ensiferous says:


    Good topic, and I agree that there is absolutely no reason to consider such a minor adaptation as capitulation. Looks great, and one must admit, is also comfortable.

  11. Woofboxer says:

    I’m not sure about this idea that wearing a tie will get you marked out as some of sort of cranky eccentric. A sharp suit and a well chosen tie, shirt and shoes will a go some way towards creating an impression of someone who is on the ball and professional. The other 75% has to come from the way you conduct yourself. In other words you create the initial impression from the way you look … then you have to live up to it.

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