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Men's holiday outfits are all about the tie

It occurred to me after I wrote about holiday outfits for women a couple weeks ago that men don't have it so easy this season either.

Now, most of the time I think you boys make a big fuss about nothing. Your trends last for 10 years, where ours are lucky to last one. Nobody notices if you wear the same outfit two days in a row. And I've never known a man to have "fat pants" or "skinny pants," which must be a positively delightful way to live.

It's normally acceptable for you to wear variations on the same outfit all the time. The issue is that there aren't enough festive variations. Men don't buy an entire new outfit for holiday parties and social events, but at the same time, who wants a Scrooge at their party?

So the plan of attack I've devised is for you to do the opposite of what I tell you to do during the other 11 months of the year. Instead of keeping a standard outfit and switching up the tie, you're going to build the outfit around the tie, thereby spending less than $100 to pepper your wardrobe with a bit of holiday cheer.


When I talk about a festive tie, I don't mean the sartorial equivalent of Clark Griswold's house. A simple red and green plaid or tartan pattern works best -- you're rocking around the Christmas tree without getting run over by a reindeer, if you will. Brooks Brothers' Stewart Slim Tie looks just seasonal enough that you'd feel a little silly wearing it in February.

If you want to go big or go home, a bow tie isn't an everyday piece for most guys, so it's a noticeable touch for special occasions. The Argyle Sutherland Bow Tie, also from Brooks Brothers, doesn't have an overtly Christmas-y pattern. Since it's inherently a little more formal, some red and green weaved in does the trick.


Most of you younger male readers don't wear a suit every day to work. Nevertheless, you should have one in your wardrobe, likely gray or navy as those are more stylish than black right now. Your festive tie will work perfectly with a navy or gray suit, brown dress shoes and a white shirt. If you're really fashion-forward and your pants are tailored to show a hint of sock when you sit down, your socks should obviously be red.

In the absence of a suit, a navy blazer with khaki pants is your next best bet. However, if you have a suit, now's the time to wear it. In the words of Mark Twain, you can never be overdressed or overeducated.


I only have room for one event title, but this is really for holiday concerts, theater productions and anything involving grandparents, especially if they aren't yours. For this look, you'll need a pair of chinos, a nice sweater and a patterned button-down shirt. Again, I like gray or navy for the sweater color. Building around these hues is convenient because no matter what festive tie you choose they'll probably work, and also there's a reasonable expectation that you already have a sweater in one of the two colors. For the patterned shirt, you want something subtle, such as white with a thin, neutral stripe. Pair with loafers or brown dress shoes.


Women love a man who can really own the tie-in-a-casual-setting look. Pair some dark denim jeans with a lighter blue oxford shirt and add the tie. If your tie doesn't have any blue in it, like the Stewart, go for a white shirt with a gray pinstripe instead. Pair the ensemble with brown shoes and a brown belt. And tuck in your shirt -- you're wearing a tie, after all.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)