One of my recent posts was an idea what to wear to work if you’re not fond of ties. Let’s talk about this a little more.

A navy suit/white shirt/no tie combo is one of my pet peeves. Of course it can be pulled off well: a great cut, fabric and details of a suit can make it look so nice you really don’t need much more to make the outfit just good. In most cases though, this kind of outfit is worn by office workers who don’t like suits, so they try to make them a little less formal and restricting by removing the tie.

If you do care about what you wear, however, you can play around a bit. A navy suit and white shirt combo may look just a tad too stiff with a tie, and since most workplaces now allow for a little more individual expression in clothes, why not make use of it? Stand out a bit with an outfit that doesn’t make you look just like the next bloke, but instead is a little less formal, but still interesting.

Sure, most of the examples I’ll show will feature ties. But eh, they’re not compulsory, ok? I’ll try to say why they’re interesting for reasons other than whatever’s hanging from those people’s necks.

Add a pattern

Perhaps the simplest way to make the outfit blend in less with the same-looking crowd is adding some patterns. And I’m not saying fancy socks with Mona Lisa on them, or those dotted shirts; something classic and timeless.

A striped shirt is a great start.

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Keep things simple and clean. • 簡、潔。

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I’m especially fond of those wide block/bengal stripes that add colour and variety. The white in between helps keep things grounded, the pattern makes it look more alive.

A patterned suit is also a nice idea. Low-contrast checks are great – windowpane, Prince of Wales…

A high-contrast pinstripe or chalkstripe is perhaps a bit too 80’s Wall Street, but there are subtler ways to play this pattern too:

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Play with colours

The old saying no brown in town is dead and has been long before I got into menswear. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Subdued shades of brown or green can be a great way to stand out while still looking professional.

Ditch the suit

Instead of wearing a full suit, break it up and go with an odd jacket and some nice trousers. This will bring the formality down and make you feel a little more relaxed (because a suit has this psychological effect that makes one stiff up a bit sometimes). And there are so, so many nice ways to compose and outfit like that! The most tried one is, of course, a navy jacket and grey trousers – works every time. But throw in a pattern on the jacket and it should work brilliantly too.

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Odd jacket by Fresco.

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Gingham check with glen check.

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If you want to keep the navy suit and the white shirt…

…then I really recommend you keep the tie on.

It just looks so much better!