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The Globe and Mail

Can you respectably rock a short-sleeve shirt and tie?

The question

What do you think of a short-sleeve dress shirt with a tie?

The answer

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First, "short-sleeve dress shirt" is an oxymoron. A short-sleeved shirt, with buttons or without, is resolutely casualwear, for hot weather only. Dress it up with a tie and you are either a science-teacher in a 1950s educational film or the most pretentious kind of waiter – you might as well add a beard, heavy glasses, a cardigan, shorts and a sign saying you know a lot about charcuterie and hilarious Japanese pop bands. And, actually, don't even wear a regular tie – it has to be a bow-tie. Needless to explain, this columnist does not approve of ironic dressing. Now, you can cheat these guidelines (in a serious way) if you want to go from office to patio: You may wear a short-sleeved shirt under a jacket with a tie and no one will notice your lack of cuffs. But when you take the jacket off, take the tie off, too.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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