In today’s bling obsessed culture, men have lost their way when it comes to accessorizing. Rappers who wear gold rings on every finger, long gold rope chains and gold grills are doing it wrong. You don’t have to be like Tony Montana to portray a successful aura. In fact, it appears tacky and ostentatious.
Accessories are items you wear for two purposes:
- For utility; such as a belt or a watch
- To enhance your style; such as a ring or a bracelet.
With so many ways to accessorize your wardrobe, let’s stick with the basics – accessories 101 if you will.
Belts are optional these days. If your trousers fit, it is perfectly acceptable to go beltless. However, if you want or need to wear a belt make sure it matches your shoes. Black belt – black shoes, brown belt – brown shoes.
Cufflinks are a choice, not a necessity unless you only wear French cuff shirts. When choosing cufflinks, don’t be too “blingy” and novelty cufflinks are just plain tacky. Stick with simple designs that are eye catching, but not flashy. Cufflinks with inlays, such as wood, are always a tasteful choice.
Sunglasses do much more than protecting your eyes from the sun. They also make a statement about your personal style and your economic status. Expect to pay at least $75 on a pair of shades. I personally love my Tom Ford Aviators and if you think there is no difference between a pair of cheap sunglasses and a pair of expensive ones, go try on a pair of designer shades. There is a huge difference.
Watches too say a lot about your style as well as your economic status. While Timex makes a perfectly fine watch, they are made for men who don’t care what impression they give off. Don’t go too flashy, maybe a Tissot or Movado. Rolex is reserved for the top 1 % and unless you are part of that, you won’t be fooling anyone.
Pocket Squares are another accessory that is optional but will make your suit or sports jacket pop. While you can buy matching ties and pocket squares, try mixing it up. A clean white cotton or a silk plaid pocket square makes a bigger statement than if you are too “matchy”. There are several ways to fold a pocket square, just make sure the tag isn’t showing.
Braces or suspenders are making a comeback. If braces still seem too dated for your taste and always remind you of Gordon Gecko from the 1980s classic Wall Street, then you might want to think twice about investing in them. Still, if you want to wear them, don’t wear the clip on type. Invest some money and have brace buttons sewn into your slacks.
Rings are a nice touch for anyone, just keep it classy. Only one ring per hand – you’re not a member of the mafia so don’t try and emulate them. And, yes, your wedding band counts. Nothing too flashy and don’t try and pull off ostentatious bling rings that are made from cubic zirconium. A nice onyx or a cluster of small diamonds would be a tasteful choice.
Ties should be either 100% silk or 100% wool – no polyester! Choose classic patterns such as stripes, polka dots or solids. Never wear a novelty tie or cartoon ties. Width is up to you, but currently, the slim tie is popular.
The tie bar is back and is arguably a utility accessory. When choosing a tie bar, stick with a simple silver and make sure the bar is not too big or too small for the tie. Same rules as cufflinks apply nothing too “blingy” and nothing with a theme.
The manbag is big these days and I don’t just mean in size. That’s right, a shoulder bag has all but replaced those stuffy brief cases. This is definitely a utility accessory because you can carry everything from a laptop to a fresh shirt in them. These should always be made of leather, not pleather.
The scarf can be either a utility or a fashion accessory. On the one hand, it is made to keep you warm. On the other hand, it is very European looking. When choosing a scarf, be bold and select a pattern such as plaid and no acrylic. A scarf should be made of wool, no exceptions.
Socks are not often thought of as an accessory, but they are. Whether argyle or fun color combinations, patterned socks can make even the drabbest wingtips come to life. Match your socks to shirt for an understated detail that will surely be noticed.