Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Your post raises some interesting issues, and bears upon some thoughts I've had recently about '70's menswear.

Whether anyone finds a turtleneck with a suit appealing, or not, I believe is very much a matter of personal preference. It's certainly not obligatory, and a man can live his whole life never having worn that combination and be very well dressed. But I think it's a little inaccurate to smear the aesthetic by tying it to '70's disco suits, revolting though they may have been. (I had a colleague who had a suit he wore for business that was supposed to be "Sand" colored, but was, in fact, orange.)

It sounds as if you too also lived through that decade, which I might more accurately term, survived. Certainly, it was one of my least favorite aesthetically. But the turtleneck with country suits, or sport jackets was something I witnessed being worn throughout the '60's and '50's, and judging by photographs and illustrations, was worn for decades before. My opinion is that the common negative reaction to a turtleneck with tailored clothing owes more to its having become fashion and being over-seen, and to its association with ugly clothes, than to the intrinsic value of the aesthetic itself.

And my other thought involves '70's fashion as a whole: Certainly not the best decade for menswear. And at its worse, there are no competitors, but when I run across some old fashion photography of better quality clothing from the era, and compare it to what I see now, it can actually make me nostalgic! And I'm shocked by my reaction! Yes, a surprising amount of better '70's clothing looks a heck of a lot better than what I see parading around Pitiful Uomo or going down Thom Browne's walkways. It's more graceful, better balanced, doesn't make the wearer look ugly, and some of it actually had style, at least compared to a surprising amount of contemporary fashion.

People who didn't experience the decade tend to think of the options available as consisting exclusively of tie-dyed shirts, jeans, platform shoes and fringed jackets. But during the era I was buying business suits at Paul Stuart, Chipp or Wallach's that though they may have been cut with straight-leg trousers and a higher button stance with a wider lapel, are far better looking than what I see being sold as fashion now. And that is true right down the line for all the accoutrements that I wore with them.

So were the '70's a wonderful sartorial decade? Heck no! But look around.
I think we are aligned in that I think of a turtleneck with a suit or sport coat - done right - as very Trad and a great look. If one doesn't like it, that is, of course, fine, but it would be hard to argue, based on the photographic evidence, as you said, that it wasn't part of the Trad cannon in the day.

Also, while I agree that there was absolutely some incredibly great clothing in the 70s, from the Trad stores in particular - and yes they look better than the fashion nonsense of today - what I struggle with is how those small tweaks you mention - lapel width, button stance, etc. - really diminished the suits / sport coats / etc. in the 70s even from the Trad stores.

I bought a blue blazer from a local Trad men store in the 70s (when that, with a white OCBD, grey flannels and penny loafers was my full dressing up wardrobe) and when I finally got rid of it from the back of my closet in the 90s, it was so obviously 70s - lapels in particular, but even the overall cut and lining (if memory serves) - that I was amazed. It was one of those eye-opening moment for me when I started to realize the importance of small details in clothing.
 

Acct2000

Connoisseur - Moderator
I think we are aligned in that I think of a turtleneck with a suit or sport coat - done right - as very Trad and a great look. If one doesn't like it, that is, of course, fine, but it would be hard to argue, based on the photographic evidence, as you said, that it wasn't part of the Trad cannon in the day.

Also, while I agree that there was absolutely some incredibly great clothing in the 70s, from the Trad stores in particular - and yes they look better than the fashion nonsense of today - what I struggle with is how those small tweaks you mention - lapel width, button stance, etc. - really diminished the suits / sport coats / etc. in the 70s even from the Trad stores.

I bought a blue blazer from a local Trad men store in the 70s (when that, with a white OCBD, grey flannels and penny loafers was my full dressing up wardrobe) and when I finally got rid of it from the back of my closet in the 90s, it was so obviously 70s - lapels in particular, but even the overall cut and lining (if memory serves) - that I was amazed. It was one of those eye-opening moment for me when I started to realize the importance of small details in clothing.
I don't know how traditional the turtleneck with a suit look is. Even with sport coats, it was recognized as more casual. I remember that while it is easier to find pictures of Hollywood people and Rock Stars from that time, people who wore suits, especially in the 70s were a lot more traditional. Most men wore ties with suits in the 70s if they wore them. (This is not counting disco people from the very late 70s. John Travolta's character made the three piece suit - no tie look a fad in the late 70s.)

Edited to add: I'm referring mostly to business people and other professionals who wore suits to work. Many people wore sport coats, suits and leisure suits without a tie for situations where you were free to dress as you wished. The no-tie thing for business people was not very big in the seventies. Also, a lot of people felt that you were not respecting situations if you wore no tie where one was expected. For example, almost no one interviewing for a business or professional position in the 70s would have even thought of being tieless for the interview.

I suppose a turtleneck with a sport coat is not wrong; I do it or do crew necks with sport coats sometimes. I don't like turtlenecks
 

dr.butcher

Senior Member
Serious question?

OK, it's warmed-over early '70's designer ersatz.

Not taken seriously 45 years ago, they are in the same class as Thom Browne and cargo shorts.

Oh, wait . . . .
Uh, it's actually a Chinese collar with a very long history, perhaps Western designer fascination with Che and Mao and so on led to a short 70s/80s popularity in the States but I don't think you can so flippantly dismiss them because some people appropriated them inappropriately...

I refer to them as "Banded" collars, popular in the 80's, always the top button would be buttoned, usually worn with a suit.

Never heard the term "mao collar"
I think they're called Mandarin collars not Mao collars. Perhaps the term was confused with Mao suit?
 

dr.butcher

Senior Member
This is a very interesting topic because it is something that has come up again and again on this forum and will continue to come up.

Many people here seem to be of the opinion that a suit without a tie is a bad look, and although I would agree with them (and myself always wear a tie even when it's not called for, like going out to the movies) I would have to say this is a fairly parochial viewpoint, particularly given the trend of menswear over the past 200 or so years which has basically seen a gradual move away from formality. When frock and other coats were shortened there were people who complained they were obscene because they barely covered a man's derriere. DJs and other items of clothing has a similarly difficult birth but today are seen as the height of formality by many people.

My point here is only that the question shouldn't be "is it okay to wear a suit without a tie" but "how and when to wear a suit without a tie".

So far the consensus here seems to be that is depends on (a) the collar, and (b) the material of the suit. I think Flanderian made a good point when he said that the key is to ensure that the neck is closed. This doesn't really help in hot weather though. I would tweak this statement a little and say that the key is the neck/collar. If it isn't closed, what is the collar doing to ensure it still looks good. Perhaps we need to go back to stiffer collars, longer points, I don't know, but simply removing the tie is not a good solution. Perhaps collars need to undergo some kind of significant change or development to cater for the new tie-less look as what we wear now is mostly designed to go with a tie.

Odradek also made the important point that wearing a suit is cool but wearing a tie is selling out to the man. I think this is a big part of it (although I personally think it's a simplistic, stupid and outdated argument).

How would AAAC members feel if instead of a long tie, people are opting for something less constricting, such as a Colonel Sanders tie or a bolo tie? I personally think a handkerchief tied around a neck with an open collar shirt (cowboy style) could be pulled off and is perfect for summer as the handkerchief can be put under a running tap and used to cool off your face and then squeezed dry and tied around the neck, again keeping the neck very cool in the hot weather.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
Uh, it's actually a Chinese collar with a very long history, perhaps Western designer fascination with Che and Mao and so on led to a short 70s/80s popularity in the States but I don't think you can so flippantly dismiss them because some people appropriated them inappropriately...

I think they're called Mandarin collars not Mao collars. Perhaps the term was confused with Mao suit?
Didn't suggest it was anything else. It's the fake versions worn out of context with Western fashions that's ersatz, not the original.

I have no idea what the style is known as in Mandarin, but strongly suspect it may not be called a Mandarin Collar. ;)

And of course, the fellow who sells you an ersatz version on high street can call it whatever he wishes.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
no one interviewing for a business or professional position in the 70s would have even thought of being tieless for the interview.
In the folly of youth, I confess to wearing a turtleneck with a nice tan corduroy suit for after hours socializing. (Still might if I had one!) And already in the midst of my career I would never have thought of going to do business other than in a suit and tie.
 

dr.butcher

Senior Member
I have no idea what the style is known as in Mandarin, but strongly suspect it may not be called a Mandarin Collar. ;)
In Chinese they are called 立领 (in simplified characters) or 立領 (in traditional characters) which translates as "upright collar". In Mandarin this is pronounced something like "li ling" and it Cantonese it would be "laap leng".

It's a style often seen on the Mao suit, which in Chinese is known as 中山装 / 中山裝 which translates as "Sun Yat-sen clothes", so a Sun Yat-sen suit. I don't know how it came to be called a Mao suit but probably because he's one of the few mainland Chinese figures almost everyone in the West has heard of.
 

Chouan

Honors Member
In Chinese they are called 立领 (in simplified characters) or 立領 (in traditional characters) which translates as "upright collar". In Mandarin this is pronounced something like "li ling" and it Cantonese it would be "laap leng".

It's a style often seen on the Mao suit, which in Chinese is known as 中山装 / 中山裝 which translates as "Sun Yat-sen clothes", so a Sun Yat-sen suit. I don't know how it came to be called a Mao suit but probably because he's one of the few mainland Chinese figures almost everyone in the West has heard of.
I doubt that many in the West will have heard of Dr.Sun Yat Sen, even despite the Jackie Chan film!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1911_(film)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772230/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXNMUh4Ckts
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
In Chinese they are called 立领 (in simplified characters) or 立領 (in traditional characters) which translates as "upright collar". In Mandarin this is pronounced something like "li ling" and it Cantonese it would be "laap leng".

It's a style often seen on the Mao suit, which in Chinese is known as 中山装 / 中山裝 which translates as "Sun Yat-sen clothes", so a Sun Yat-sen suit. I don't know how it came to be called a Mao suit but probably because he's one of the few mainland Chinese figures almost everyone in the West has heard of.
Thank you! A proper Mandarin name, rather than a Western "make do."
 

Balfour

Suspended
This is a very interesting topic because it is something that has come up again and again on this forum and will continue to come up.
The red leads me to the opposite of the blue.

How would AAAC members feel if instead of a long tie, people are opting for something less constricting, such as a Colonel Sanders tie or a bolo tie? I personally think a handkerchief tied around a neck with an open collar shirt (cowboy style) could be pulled off and is perfect for summer as the handkerchief can be put under a running tap and used to cool off your face and then squeezed dry and tied around the neck, again keeping the neck very cool in the hot weather.
Not good.
 

JBierly

Advanced Member
For those of us who find wearing a tie with a suit the norm, going without is akin to making a statement. For me, there is a number of connotations but mostly it implies that your work day is over and now you are partially disrobed. Perhaps a decent look in a bar or in the club or in the bedroom. I must say when I see the President without a tie it just doesn't look right to my eye since his work should never be done.
 
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Stubbly

Super Member
In my opinion, it all depends on the suit and the shirt.
+1

The suit, the shirt, the shirt collar, and the occasion are factors.

My three cents:

The issue with an open collar shirt is not about wearing it with a suit. The issue is that many (most?) men don't know how to pull off an open collar, even with a sport coat. Some AAAC members say, for casual wear, not wearing a tie with a sport coat is appropriate. Yet, I've seen far too many men that look like rubes when wearing a sport coat with an open collar shirt.


THIS looks good, but it may look better with the second button closed. Yes, I know some AAAC members hate French blue shirts.





THIS looks beyond bad, and it would look equally bad with a sport coat.

 

dr.butcher

Senior Member
Originally Posted by dr.butcher
This is a very interesting topic because it is something that has come up again and again on this forum and will continue to come up.



The red leads me to the opposite of the blue.
Well perhaps I should rephrase that. Not interesting because I have any stake in the argument, I like wearing ties and will continue to wear ties, and the various answers to a question like "can I wear this suit without a tie" at this forum can be guessed so it makes it a rather needless question. But it's interesting because it's obviously one of the big fashion questions of the day for men that want to dress well, its frequency on forums showing just how many people are dealing with this question. I'd personally find a discussion of the changes in tie styles more interesting.

The only reason I'd never wear a bolo or Colonel Sanders tie is I won't (not in the foreseeable future at least) find myself in a situation where it was appropriate. A Mao suit on the other hand is something that I would have a chance to wear, but many others at this forum may not. If I was stationed in the Middle East I'd probably ditch the tie.
 
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dr.butcher

Senior Member
For those of us who find wearing a tie with a suit the norm, going without is akin to making a statement. For me, there is a number of connotations but mostly it implies that your work day is over and now you are partially disrobed. Perhaps a decent look in a bar or in the club or in the bedroom.
I would venture to say that it only implies the work day is over for people who don't really want to wear a tie and associate it with their job and as something they have to wear. I used to like taking off my school uniform when I got home, but I kinda enjoy wearing a tie after the day is over in a bar even when others pull theirs off, because for me it's not associated with "the man" and something I'd rather not be wearing. Plus, then I'd be wearing a suit in a bar without a tie and that's not a look I go for.

I think that people are looking at it all wrong. It's not a noose strangling you that once removed implies you are free from the shackles of whatever the hell is oppressing you, it's men getting to tie a pretty piece of silk in a fancy bow/knot/whatever around their necks in a way they can't do in any other part of their outfit. Why would you want to take that off? It elevates you from the gray faceless mass of workday drudgery into a world of colour and gaiety. What statement are you making by taking it off? Jacket off with sleeves rolled up is also partially disrobed and more suitable for a bar.

The tie is something we should fight to keep, not needlessly discard, because once it's gone what are we left with? Pocket squares only perhaps and what kind of world would that be? I fight to keep it, even in summer in 33 degree heat when my company issues a memo stating that we're allowed to remove our ties so they don't have to turn up the air con too much and can save on costs.... I still keep it on.
 
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