During our last brief (Feb. 4), we covered wardrobe building blocks, style basics and some fit guidelines. Keep those in mind as we begin to navigate the minefield of men’s accessories, which can be tricky. It is best to use the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach when it comes to selecting your hardware. Remember, less is more—unless we’re talking style, in which case more is definitely more.
A necktie is a yard of silk that, when expertly crafted, could double as a noose—and sometimes does, especially when you can’t get the knot right and the dimple to stay in place. The most important aspect of the tie-tying process is practice. I recommend going through the steps while wearing a favorite dress shirt and dress pants so that you can experiment with different knots and see which one works best as far as length and collar type. After the knot, the other half of the battle is color and style. Since there are a million tie patterns, there are a gazillion shirt-tie combinations, which can be overwhelming. Simple solution: One pops, the other doesn’t. With a loud shirt, wear a muted tie or vice versa. For a busy tie, wear a subdued shirt. You’ve probably seen those cool Tom Ford ads with pattern-on-pattern combos, but trust me: That’s some Delta Force shit you aren’t ready for.
Belts are pretty straightforward. Generally, match the belt to the shoes; it doesn’t have to be an identical match, but it should be close. If the shoes are an odd color (red, gray, etc.), wear a belt that blends with the pants. The middle eye should be buckled to give a balanced appearance and leave room for expansion or contraction. Stitched belts, no matter how expensive, won’t last as long as a hand-fussed three-piece belt. Invest a bit more up front and the belt will last longer than you do.
Start simple. Gold or silver solid links or knots are great foundation pieces. A rule of thumb is to match hardware: Belt buckle and links should be of the same color; if you’re wearing colored links, then that color must be somewhere else in the look. Cuff links range from conservative to all-out funky—I’ll leave it up to you to determine where you fit in.
Once you drop some serious coin on a watch, it gets complicated. So let’s stick with the every-dude watch: classic, metal and versatile. You want your watch to be something that looks good with a suit, while wearing a T-shirt and jeans, or even lounging in board shorts by the pool. The standard metal-banded military watch is the perfect mix of style and substance for almost any occasion.
It’s pretty simple if you follow tradition and match socks to pants, though some guys insist on wearing socks that would make Elton John proud. I don’t care whether you go crazy of stay conservative; just don’t wear white socks with your dress shoes. It’s bad—very bad. Regardless of how you decide to cover your ankles, buy good socks that are made mainly of wool or cotton and come above the calf. Natural fibers help wick away moisture, which protects feet as well as your footwear.
Nothing pains me more than seeing a well-dressed fellow rocking a great suit wearing the same sunglasses as Dog the Bounty Hunter. Now, there is nothing wrong with wearing plastic frames since one of the most popular sunglass styles is the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, but the multicolored face shield look is no bueno unless you are actually hunting fugitives or fielding fly balls for the Dodgers. Stick to black or tortoise. Face shape plays a critical role in sunglasses looking right on your mug, but most people can wear either aviators, wayfarers or a good pair of black plastic chunk sunglasses. Try on a variety of makes and models, but keep within the boundaries of classic or a modern twist on classic.
Until next month gentlemen, shoot straight and look sharp.