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I found this in this sentence:

He wears collar and tie for work.

If I don't think of this as an idiom, I presume that he wears something that has a collar and a tie separately from it.

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But this is an idiom, it means He wears a suit for work – SmokerAtStadium Mar 26 '13 at 16:31
Wouldn't you generally say "He wears a collar and tie". I think you have to count it as an idiom, because it's left over from the days when collars were detachable. Nowadays, collars are always attached to shirts. – Peter Shor Mar 26 '13 at 16:41
However, while it does mean shirt and tie, it doesn't mean suit. The trousers (and jacket, if any) worn with a shirt and tie need not be a suit. – St John of the Cross Mar 26 '13 at 16:43
Presumably he has a white collar job, to use another idiom. – GEdgar Mar 26 '13 at 16:45
@St John of the Cross Could you please show a reference for that? Of course a shirt and tie can be worn with a sports jacket and jeans, but I assumed it was implied here that collar and tie stand for an actual suit. – SmokerAtStadium Mar 26 '13 at 17:15

In a strict sense wear a collar and tie isn't an idiom.

The most near one is collar and tie men & collar and tie and in loose terms you can refer wearing a collar and tie like a idiom.

collar-and-tie men >> businessmen who wear dress shirts and ties.


  • After Jim graduated from college, he went off to join the collar-and-tie men.
  • Us working folks at the plant have an awful time getting the collar-and-tie men to see our point of view.

You may find a occurrence here:

Don't dress casually tonight. It's going to be a collar and tie occasion.

Note: Wearing a collar and tie /historical edge

A working man often wore his shirt without a collar informally, putting on the collar and tie for a more formal occasion, such as for Church, or going out with his wife. The idiom stems from the days when shirt collars were separate, and came in pairs, two to each shirt, which also saved on laundry, hence another idiom 'be sure to wear a clean collar'.

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I wonder if I could rephrase my sentence as "He wears formal clothes for work". – Dragon Buster Mar 26 '13 at 17:56
@Dragon Buster, ?? – Raghav Mar 26 '13 at 18:03

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