Easy and Elegant Life

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

Tying Up The Middle Ground During the Dog Days.


Would you ever just go to work in a tie without wearing a coat?

These days when everything is more casual, and yet we can still find the energy to criticize Mr. Obama for wearing a tan suit in summer, I wonder where you put your stops?

We’ve been discussing the middle ground, that sort of business casual look that has prevailed among offices, entrepreneurs, and the hoi polloi, regardless of what a stroll through your town or mall might suggest. Me? I find it less difficult than I used to to forget about the coat and tie. Tailored shirt and trousers, good shoes and that’s about it. But it’s still 90+ºF/32+C here in The Old Dominion. Even unlined linen sports coats like the one above are a bit much when walking around outside. I’ve tackled the open collar wilting issue with Würkin Stiffs collar bones and highly recommend them.

With a return to cooler weather promised, I’m sure that I will once again embrace suits, ties, sweaters and sports coats for all they’re worth. After all, I never feel as productive and flat-out good as I do when dressed for any possibility. But, for the meantime, it’s open collars, cotton and linen at best. Where do you draw the business casual line?

4 thoughts on “Tying Up The Middle Ground During the Dog Days.

  1. Corporations have such varying policies on business casual that it is impossible to determine what is acceptable and what is not. West Coast residents are, of course, casual most every day. In fact, they trend far beyond what we would consider business casual in many instances.

  2. Great question. For me, a blazer at all times is essential, particularly if I’m going without a tie. A blazer divides the men from the boys, I find. And if I am going without a tie — which is happening more frequently — I will choose a buttoned down shirt with a visible (but not outsized) pattern. And wonder of wonders: I will now actually wear cotton trousers if they are refined enough, ie. if they can hold a proper crease and drape well. Shoes will range from double monks to penny loafers in various brown hues. In a corporate setting, you can’t go wrong with a suit, but I’m beginning to find that if you can toe that fine line between business and casual — call it preppy professorial or countryside chic, perhaps? — then those in the know will give you props. It takes greatness to do business casual elegantly.

  3. For work, i.e. standing in front of slack-jawed undergraduates, I almost always wear a sports jacket or navy blazer and tie (occasionally a suit), although very few other male faculty on my small campus do so. Administrators and trustees in my neck of the woods wear the (badly fitting) suits. At the bare minimum, if it’s really, really hot and sticky (Richmond, D.C., or Atlanta kind of hot and sticky), I’ll don a jacket without a necktie and head for the air-conditioned buildings on campus asap.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

  4. I teach at a college on the West Coast and many of my colleagues come to school in sandals, shorts and t-shirts. I on the other hand never step onto campus without at least a sport coat. During the summer, I rarely wear a tie and often wear a polo under my sport coat, but I still wear a pocket square. Sometimes I wear a button down shirt but many times I wear a standard dress shirt with an open collar. In the later case I also use Wurkin Stiffs, although I purchased the version with three different sizes instead of just the 2.5 inch ones. Nordstrom carries these and others as well for $40.

    I will say though Heinz-Ulrich, the administrators (VPs and Deans) where I work are all earning in the six figures, and their suits reflect that. The lower end administrators though do wear very shabby suits.

    I have been told on many occasions that I am the best dressed instructor my students have ever seen. Chris and his articles have been extremely helpful for me sartorially and I am grateful for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.