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What’s a suit without a shirt? Chic

Wearing a smart, tailored suit with nothing underneath is the new red carpet normal. Leading stylists and designers tell you how you can pull off the look as well  

Timothee Chalamet at the Oscars ceremony earlier this year in a Louis Vuitton suit sans shirt
Timothee Chalamet at the Oscars ceremony earlier this year in a Louis Vuitton suit sans shirt

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Who wears a suit with a shirt or a tee underneath anymore? Looks like all the cool dudes have ditched the shirt in favour of going bare-chested. All you need is a sharp lapelled, well-tailored blazer and some nifty jewellery and you're ready to break the internet.

Timothee Chalamet's Louis Vuitton suit worn sans shirt and with Cartier necklaces at the Oscars comes to mind instantly. What started as a key gender-fluid trend three years ago at Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Rick Owens, Gucci and Balmain has grown stronger and more mainstream. At Coachella, Harry Styles opted for a custom look by Gucci — a pink-and-silver trouser-and-vest set worn bare-chested.

From the runway: A Gucci show
From the runway: A Gucci show

There are variations here: For some, wearing the suit jacket next to the the skin might be a bit much and they have opted for an inner garment in a mesh or a sheer fabric. Just take a look at Jared Leto's dotted mesh top worn under an animal print jacket at the screening of Morbius.

Jared Leto at the screening of Morbius 
Jared Leto at the screening of Morbius 

Stylist Isha Bhansali traces the trend back to the Mafia-inspired history of menswear: Bare, brash and badass. While you embrace the sartorial norms, you're nonchalant about styling. “Today no actor would be caught dead in a mundane tuxedo look on the red carpet. The cropped jacket version seen on Chalamet totally worked for him and brought the focus to his lean chest. Being an experimental dresser, he has always picked the most offbeat pieces for his red carpet outings. Having said that, this trend is for everyone and makes one look sharp even in this oppressive heat. All you need is a sharp-shoulder blazer and tux and you're good to go,” says Bhansali.

Who needs excessive layering in this heat when you can flash your taught physique with a well-cut trouser suit? Superimpose a cool attitude with comfort and you've got a winning ensemble. Designer Rachit Khanna observes that the edgy trend was initially seen hitting the runways in 2019 and is now followed by almost every celebrity who hits the gym. “It is an off-kilter style but at the same time so fun. The suits are not fitted, they are in soft or sequinned fabrics. So those '90s and Y2K era stuffy suits are passé. Though the first shirtless man in India was Salman Khan with a chiseled body. I think this trend has taken over the world for good,” he says.

Designer Nitish Arora of label Alter-X notes that going shirtless with a tailored suit is the perfect example of being dapper and rebellious at the same time. “You are making a visual impact. Also, one should always wear a suit but make it one's own, be it by removing the waistcoat or the shirt or even the pants for that matter (trousers being replaced by a man skirt or a kilt!) depending upon one's personal style,” he says.

Designer Ranjit Rodrick of label Juice observes that Chalamet's outing at the 2022 Oscar Awards ceremony felt like a defining moment. “When the global style icon and Hollywood heartthrob strode nonchalantly onto the red carpet wearing a jacket and trousers but no shirt, it was a moment of reckoning. Shirtless tailoring has always been around – at least for women at Yves Saint Laurent. The late reclusive designer had many avatars of his famed Le Smoking suit, which saw his female models wearing only a jacket with trousers and no blouse. So it's interesting to see modern stylish men borrow this visionary and iconic look and make it their own. Since fashion trends tend to come full circle every couple of decades, it's not surprising that Chalamet, Harry Styles and other androgynous men are experimenting with a look that was clearly designed to enhance and bolster a women's sexiness,” says Rodrick.

Here are some practical ways to adopt the look: Arora suggests that for a day look, opt for a relaxed unstructured jacket and pair it with loose straight fit pants with some length dripping on three-inch Cuban heels. “To beat the heat, pick a hue like a powder pink or an ice blue and accessorise with a pearl necklace. For a shirtless night look, go for a more slim-fitted look with a structured cropped jacket with sharp shoulders,” he recommends, adding that playing with the shoulder shape is the best way to accentuate your figure. The sharper they are, the broader it makes you feel. “A good padded shoulder goes a long way. Finish it off with a pair of high-waist trousers with a straight fit. Accessorise it with a cummerbund and a pair of croc leather patent narrow tip chelsea boots. Don’t forget the Swarovski cuban-link chain necklace for the after party look,” he adds.

Rodrick says that the best way to rock the shirtless tailoring look is to flaunt your most important accessories – your chiseled chest and abs. “A nipple ring or a belly button ring would add that dash of sexiness to the look. The androgynous man could even experiment with wearing a leather corset around his waist for a truly dramatic twist,” he adds.

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