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Should you wear a tie with a short sleeve shirt?

Short sleeve shirt and tie combo on white background

Can you wear a tie with a short sleeve shirt? There are plenty of style experts who will say that the short sleeve shirt and tie combination is one to be avoided at all costs. It’s too basic, too incomplete, there’s nothing polished or stylish about it, they’ll say. And the truth is, it is super hard to make this combination work in a way that looks good at all. But when it’s done well, the pairing of a short sleeve shirt with a tie captures the best of sexy style with a hint of professionalism and just enough bad boy edge to look really hot. The problem is that almost no one does this look well. Today, you’re going to learn the secrets of styling this combination and find out how to pull off a hot, fashionable look that continues to baffle even the most stylish people to this day.

Making It Work

First of all, you gotta avoid the white shirt / black tie combo. High contrast is the very last thing you want if you’re going to pull the short sleeve dress shirt and tie look off well. This combo of white and black, which feels like a classic, makes you look like you’re out there selling something. It’s a work look and it’s dated. This combination calls to mind images of the NASA scientists in the 1960s watching the screens as the first astronauts tried to make their way to the moon. Are you also going to add some pens and a pocket protector?

Whatever you do, just don’t wear this combination. In fact, don’t wear a white short sleeved shirt at all. Choose a pattern, choose a color, choose anything else. Dress shirt styles are available in just about color or pattern you can think of. Stripes, polka dots, graphic patterns; you name it and you can find it in a dress shirt.

Person in a white shirt and black tie

There’s a reason that this look is so hard to pull off. You need epic styling skills to pull off a short sleeve shirt and tie look, for good reason. When you see this, it’s automatically going to feel off and look wrong. It’s super hard to look well-styled in those conditions. GQ put it best when exploring the strange psychology of fashion: 

“The trifecta of a shirt, tie, and a jacket has been the standard for men for centuries and it’s still the default in most people’s minds. Even though things are getting less and less formal these days, subconsciously, having all three of those elements is still seen as the standard. Therefore, if you remove one of these three key elements, your outfit isn’t going to just be less formal, it’s also going to feel lacking.”

Suit, shirt and tie combinations go together in fashion. We’ve been trained to see this as the standard. In fact, men have been wearing this look for decades. Go online and look at any old movie from the 1930s to the 1970s and you will see all the men wearing a suit, shirt and tie. When even one of these elements is missing, your brain automatically decides that this is incorrect.

Only great style can make it all look good again. It’s not about whether you have a perfect silk tie, whether or not you fit into the business casual dress code, whether or not you have on the right dress pants, not even about whether or not you’re pairing it all with the proper dress shoes. It’s about the overall vibe you’re creating with your look. Capture that and you’ve mastered the art of style.

Making It Hot

To make this look work, the fit of the shirt is absolutely crucial. The Gentlemanual from Ties says that “if your bicep is muscular enough to fill the aperture of the arm, wear a short sleeve. This will show off the muscle and the work you have put in. If your arms do not fill the aperture, wear a long sleeve shirt with roll sleeves instead – this will add mass around the bicep making you look stronger.”

A great-fitting shirt is the essential element to pulling off the short sleeve and tie combination. The shirt must not be baggy or loose. Rather, you want it to fit close enough to the skin to show off your body shape and the shape of your arms. The long sleeved shirt can be a bit roomier. For your short sleeve looks, it’s all about letting your natural shape show.

Get a great shirt by getting accurate measurements of your own body. Take your sleeve measurement by measuring the line from the top of your shoulder to the base of your hand, the bottom of your wrist. Get a collar measurement and always wear shirts in this collar size. Going even half an inch up or down will greatly change the way your shirt looks and feels.

The short sleeve shirt and tie combination works but it only works when your overall look is very well tailored and quite carefully put together. Do this and you will absolutely nail your personal style, turn heads everywhere you go and prove that all those so-called fashion experts are just plain wrong.

What is that they say? The man makes the clothes? When it comes to making this combination work, that’s very true. So find out how to style this look perfectly and make this outfit totally freaking hot.

Picking the Perfect Tie

You should definitely think about the overall vibe you want to capture, find a shirt that fits you great and think about the type of pants and shoes that you want to pair with your shirt and tie combination. But let’s face it, the real star of this look is the tie. Whether you want it to stand out as the essential element or you have to work to make it blend in, this entire outfit hinges on the tie. That puts a heck of a lot of pressure on you to choose a good one. So…do you know how to do that?

Ties are one of the most common men’s fashion items and yet, they are also much newer than you might think. It feels like ties have been around for ever and it seems that no man can get to age 25 without owning at least one tie. But the truth is, the modern tie as you know it is really only about a century old. Since it appeared on the fashion scene, however, it has become a superstar. Today, ties are made with every single material you can think of, from the finest silks and wools to plastic.

As a general rule of fashion, you should always splurge a little on your tie. A high-quality tie is something that just can’t be substituted, no matter how great everything else you’re wearing might be. Choose ties that are well-made and crafted out of good materials, such as silk, satin, fine cotton, linen and wool. Plastic ties may be fun as a novelty but you shouldn’t wear them seriously. Acrylic can be used to mimic many other materials, including silk. Choose a good acrylic tie and it will look and feel almost as good as the more fine fabrics. Pick a tie in a color or color combination that is flattering to your natural color and to the rest of your clothing. Get ties in a wide range of colors, patterns and styles so you always have the right finishing element for any style you want to create.

Geek Chic

To make up for the lack of a jacket and what this does to your brain when you see the short shirt and tie combo, add something extra to the outfit. Make up for the lack of a jacket by adding in an accessory that is best displayed without a jacket: suspenders.

Add suspenders to a short sleeve shirt with a tie and suddenly, this look becomes really hot. With a fitted shirt and a tie and suspenders that match, this is an amazing look that can go on a date, to the office or to any daytime semi-formal event. This is a great wedding look when it’s too hot or too casual for a jacket. You can even get away with this look as cocktail attire if you’re having an after-work drink.

This look says that you’re a guy who’s got it all together. You’re probably a professional man, one who cares about his image. And let’s face it: suspenders are hot.

Fun Guy

You can also dress the entire look way down and play up your casual style. First, don’t tuck your shirt in. Pair the short sleeve shirt with shorts and a bow tie. This is an amazing summer look that’s fun and stylish. It’s a strictly casual look, but with a touch of style that will make you stand out and look well-dressed even in the most informal settings.

A striped shirt is a perfect choice for this look, though it can work well with a solid color dress shirt as well. This look is great for day or nighttime events during the summer, though only as a casual look.

This look definitely shows a little bit of quirkiness because you’re having fun with fashion by wearing a collared shirt with a bow tie instead of a more basic tee. This is a much more stylish look than a more standard summer fashion choice, the lightweight polo shirt.

So Stylish

What really makes this look work is to make the tie totally blend in. Choose a shirt and tie in exactly the same color and the two will fit together perfectly. Add depth to the look with fabric. Choose a shirt in silk, satin or another material that has a little more personality than the standard fabrics. Get a tie in the exact same color shade to make the two blend together.

This is a very stylish look that is perfect for evening events, business meetings and any time you want to make an impression. You want to stick to solid shirts and ties for this look, as a patterned shirt will be much harder to match with a tie.

This matched look will work with just about any pant style, depending on how much more casual or how much less casual you want your outfit to look. As a general rule, choose a dark color shirt and tie combination for evening and nighttime wear. Stick to lighter and bright colors for daytime looks.

The Professional

Sometimes, wearing a jacket is too hot or too formal for the style you want to wear. You can still look professional in short sleeves, even without a jacket. The trick is to choose a more formal shirt with a contrast collar. This adds a little bit of a layered look and a little bit of polish to the overall outfit. Nicely-tailored pants, a belt and a watch complete this look very well. Choose a tie with a classic pinstripe or plaid pattern to make it stand out. And remember, don’t wear a white shirt. A classic light blue shirt works perfectly for any professional look.

Complete this outfit with tailored trousers and dress shoes, like oxfords, to show that you are at the top of your game. For a professional look, you want to stick to a shirt in a solid color. Save the checked shirt and other casual shirt styles for more dressed-down looks. At the same time, you don’t want to go too formal. There’s no need to wear a tuxedo shirt to the office, after all. A simple contrast collar with sharp collar points and a striped tie will look totally amazing. The lack of a suit jacket will show that you’re a man who isn’t afraid to work hard but you’re still a man with a whole lot of style.

Rock and Roll

There’s a way to make a short sleeve shirt and tie combination look cool and edgy. That’s by making it punk rock. Pair the shirt with plaid pants, a black belt and black boots or tennis shoes. Don’t tuck in the shirt and add a tie. Now, you’ve got a totally punk look that’s cool and stylish and suited to any nighttime casual event or occasion. 

This style works great with any type of bottoms you might want to wear, though it does work great with plaid pants and it’s ready-made for skinny jean looks.

Illustration of a shirt and tie combo with a vest

Use a Vest

If you feel, as many do, that a short sleeve shirt and tie combination is lacking, add a vest. A vest that fits well will add a touch of sexiness and a bit of a professional vibe. You will definitely look well-styled and ready for whatever your day may bring. This is a great look for business meetings, lunch dates and semi-formal day events. Wear it with blue jeans and you’re good for any casual events you’ve got going on, day or night. 

Add a matching pocket square to the vest, a belt and a pair of suit pants and you will have a semi-formal or professional look that will look totally hot. You can wear this look to just about anything except for super casual occasions and strict formal events. This look will work great for even conservative office environments, which often have strict dress codes.

Short Sleeves and Style

See? There are many different ways to wear a short sleeve shirt and a tie, whether it’s a standard necktie or a bow tie. There’s no reason not to play around with this combination, even though the style experts like to say you shouldn’t even try it. There is no such thing as the word “never” in the fashion world. This is actually a very hot look when you style it the right way. 

Short sleeves show off your arms and pulling off this tricky combination shows your swagger and style. Remember that with confidence, you can always make anything work. Know that this is a great combination and know that you can wear it well and you’re going to look sensational. A short sleeve shirt and tie can not only work, it can look totally amazing.

Can you wear a tie with a short sleeve shirt? Not only can it be done to create any kind of loo for just about any occasion, but you should also wear this look because now, you know exactly what you need to do to wear it well. 


Ella Bing – How to Wear a Bow Tie Casually

GQ – Should You Wear a Tie Without a Jacket?

Ties – 16 Menswear Style Rules Broken by the Experts