Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

With or Without?


Or without?

Without, I think. And I’ll tell you why. That’s not a custom made shirt. Which means that were you to be close enough to determine the origin of my cologne, you might very well be distracted by the ill-fitting collar of my shirt. Specifically, the way the points hover above my chest without actually settling down and staying a while. A quick solution may be to take out the collar bones. But there is something else amiss. The way the tie hangs limply, a defeated fish with no proud arc, says even more.

Properly fit, with a bit of tie space, the collar and the tie perform a magnificent lift, arcing gracefully into the coat front without need for a tiebar, tack or collar pin. That’s when you know you’ve found something so very elegant. A well cut shirt.

This is what you’re shooting for (actually, there is a lot here to shoot for…):

(Image via the very good blog: Permanent Style)

22 thoughts on “With or Without?

  1. I had no idea this much thought went into ties and collars! But it certainly does explain why some look blah and some look great!

    Can I come over and straighten your bookshelves?!!?

  2. EE: I have been in and around this stuff for a long time – the images you so appropriately reference illustrate the arch you describe… I labor to achieve this same effect – sometimes to great success other, well, not so much…

    If you would be able to share your trade secrets?

  3. I do like the color combination, though. I just had to tie my 13-year-old’s tie – a first for both of us. I had picked up more through osmosis than I had realized. The length was good, but no arch to be sure.

  4. You are absolutely right in saying that a tie should just be worn with a bespoke shirt. There are too many men out there with a hole between their neck and their collar, with a sad fish hanging around as tie. But I wouldn’t just drop it to cure the problem. I intentionally avoid the jacket- without-tie-style – eventhough very frequent nowadays – because it’s lacking of any interest, it’s too easy and you my dear deserve better than that. To fix the problem with the “hovering points” I recently ordered the “Würkin Stiff” collar bones which are fixed with an invisible magnet piece. The make an invisible button down shirt out of your dress shirt. And than comes the solution for the brave: The Ascot. A beige, light grey or yellow ascot/neckerchief would upgrade the whole picture (which is allready promissing, no doubt about it…) and give it a visual center which is usually held by the tie or bow tie.
    I love you blog, keep on posting.
    Sunray from Lake Geneva (Switzerland)

  5. Hello Suburban Princess. It’s a disease… and yikes! Those are the shelves that are the most orderly!

    Ex-banker Jon, the trick is really a better fitting shirt collar and a know that gives you a fighting chance. As you know, there are 85 ways to tie a tie… also a collar pin guarantees results.

    Mrs. B., the fact that you got a 13 year old into a tie deserves loud and long Hoorahs! (And I sometimes struggle with the length issue…)

    Matylee, I do wear a neckerchief and ascot on occasion, but it’s been horridly hot here of late. It’s 88ºF and humid at the moment. I usually reserve them for evening. The collar bones sound interesting! Do they present a problem at metal detecting security checkpoints? Just curious. I take it the magnet simply lies under your shirt and the metal to which it is attracted keeps it all in place?

  6. Please allow me to introduce myself as your newest, most avid reader!

    With or without, you’re entirely dashing either way. Thank you for the education on why the answer is “without.” My first thought was, “It depends–where are you going?” I suppose that makes me a novice, but I’m sure to become well versed on the topic, because I’m hooked on your blog.

    Best to you and your family (hope the little ones are well soon.)

  7. I have never been able to get the tie arch without a collar pin. I have been able to get one at the start of a day if I’m wearing a vest, but once you sit, the tie bulges out and you resemble a sea lion. Not the look I normally aspire to.

    But, my vote would be for no tie.

  8. Hello and welcome PearlyWhiteGirl. There’s a shirtmaker here in town called Pearly Whites! Thanks for reading and for commenting. Great header you’ve got there, but the way. And thanks for the compliment. As you will discover, my version of casual may be a bit different from others.

    armod, yes, it will. I have a number of them, but didn’t feel like wearing one that day. Besides, it let me explain what my reasoning was and another style point to consider.

  9. I ALWAYS prefer a tie on a man – mainly because it is a uniquely masculine acoutrement and thus, I find it sexy. That’s about as much as I know about ties. Your education on “the arch” had me nodding my head in agreement. Yes! That arch is what makes it all so darn nice! And you are so right, that when it is done properly with the proper shirt, it really does look fantastic! Long live the arch!

  10. P.S. You could be an Arrow Shirt Man. I’ll bet they had arches! I read recently that the fashionable architect in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was an Arrow Shirt Man before he became an actor. It was written all over him in the film where he stood his own quite well against Cary Grant.

  11. From a purely visual perspective, I love the addition of the crisp, bright blue to the ensemble. But, I would naturally yield any decision to the person wearing the garment – especially if there’s ANY sort of ‘fit’ issues.

  12. With is much more distingue-but I defer to your knowledge of arches and a close up would be good to really see what the problems are- I am positive you’ve got the right shirt to make that tie work. My,my there is a lot to learn, & oh, the pocket square is perfect with the tie. GT

  13. I would have asked “where are you going as well” – both look great.

    I’ve had trouble with shirts of late as well – mostly because I can’t stay away from Blue Bell Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream!!!

  14. Thanks for making us aware of the arc. You are of course right, and it does make a noticeable difference once one’s attention is drawn to it. But even the tie without the arc is vastly preferable to the open neck shirt. I find this trend more and more annoying each day…especially when I saw it on world leaders at the U.N. this week. I think the outfit is more interesting, colourful and finished even if the tie is limp.

    I agree with the reader regarding your books, although I feel it is not nice of us to comment on one’s housekeeping. I think just a bit of a visual organization…put like sizes together and certainly change the smallish ones that are placed horizontally on top. It doesn’t have to look perfect, a bit messy gives a comfortable lived in look, but I think they will look nicer if slightly more organized.

    I am apalled at the number of homes one goes into nowadays and they are lacking in any sort of books (but there is always a t.v.! ). And we envy the charm and high ceilings of your gracious home….
    Square with Flair

  15. Thanks everyone. Part of my quest is to find that elegant middle ground now known as “casual.” I think this guy does it right (along with a great many other things.) http://bit.ly/15wnvd

    Sorry about the shelves, they are alphabetised– Alpha according to author — for the most part. Which is why there are stacks on the stacks.

  16. E
    So much to know. I will take to heart your maxim of the “arch” being the “mysterious alchemy produced when a well-tied tie meets a perfectly fitting collar.”

    I should have known this much when I went through my tie period. (I was hopelessly enchanted with George Sand and wore ties for years.) I remember a boyfriend, in fact, giving me a tie pin from Tiffanys one birthday. I’m now wondering if he was hinting that my collar resembled the dreaded “defeated fish?”

  17. C.

    Unfortunately, we generally live and work in a world today where the sartorial knowledge of the proletariat is such that few would have the skill to notice a collar askew.



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