Men's Dress Accessories

 It's not our intention to overwhelm you with details, but when it comes to putting together the right image, these things matter. We will try to make this as quick and painless as possible, giving you only the intormation you need.

Jewelry

This is easy: Less is more. None is better. This, of course, does not include the necessary watch, cuff links or wedding hand.

Beyond those, however, man—especially a young one—is better off without jewelry. No bracelets, collar pins, tie tacks, tie clips, visible necklaces, or rings, even college rings. Some signet-type school rings aren’t bad, hut they’re not great, either. Stones, diamonds especially, look showy on young men (older men, too), so nix those. And if we even have to mention that anything pierced should he concealed or, better still, allowed to grow back then we have larger issues than we thought.

The best cuff link is small and unobtrusive. No larger than a dime. Nothing cutesy or obvious. Double-sided links connected by a chain are classic, but they're more difficult to thread than the little flip-bar type.

Compromise by getting a double-link connected with a solid bar. A plain metal knot—gold or silver—is a good choice, and inexpensive Fabric knots in a quiet color to complement shirts are acceptable. A small, plain oval is also tasteful.

 

Socks

Heave a huge sigh of relief. You can get by with nothing but black socks, either over the calf or mid-calf. If you can afford a little variety, match the sock to suit: black with charcoal gray, navy with navy. But you can't go wrong with black socks. The only other thing you need to know is these black socks, also known as "hosiery," should be relatively thin. Not see-through thin, but thin. If you live in a cold climate, wool is fine as long as it's a fine wool (get it?). Otherwise, acrylic, cotton, or a blend is good, nothing shiny.

Make sure they cover the leg well up the calf and have good elasticity to stay up. The subtle ribbing found in many men’s dress socks helps them stay up. That’s good. When they start to wrinkle down over the foot, toss them. Avoid loud patterns. Your socks should be very quiet.

 

Belt

Again, a quality black leather belt with simple, open, thin metal buckle is the ticket. You can get by with lesser quality in a leather belt than you can in, say, shoes.

But if it's glued, rather than stitched, to its lining and materials are really inferior, it may not wear well. Edges should be smooth and even. Leather should not be too glossy or heavily textured. Lizard and crocodile used to he common in men’s dress belts, but price has made that prohibitive. Imitations are everywhere. Steer clear until you can afford authenticity. Your belt should match your dress shoe - black with black, brown with brown when you’re ready. No exceptions.

 

Braces

No, not for your teeth. These hold up men’s pants. Rather, they used to hold up men’s pants. Now braces, aka suspenders, have gone the way of the pocket watch:

still classic, but uncommon. These are not for you, certainly not at this fledgling state of your career. But should you find yourself inexplicably drawn to braces in the future, know that they fasten to special buttons tucked well inside custom-made trousers. They never clip on, and they’re never ever worn with a belt.

 

Wallet

Wallets, like shoes. a wallet can be one of those telltale signs. Because it remains hidden most of the time, some men are apt to scrimp. So when the critical time comes for you to pay For the cab or pick up the check and this ancient, tattered, overstuffed, U-shaped thing held together with duct tape emerges from your pocket, eyebrows will be raised.

Although we all wish you a bulging wallet in the figurative sense, understand that sitting on such a thing can lead to back problems. Whether you choose a hip-pocket or breast-pocket style is immaterial. What’s important is that it be a quality leather and that it demonstrate just how organized you are on every level. Keep only a Few bare essentials in it, so it remains thin and tidy. If you need to carry cash, invest in an unadorned money clip, available at fine jewelry stores everywhere.

 

Hosiery

Like ties, socks are no place for cheer. No clever little candy canes, no cartoon characters, no smiley faces. No one is amused, least of all your clients and boss.

If a part of you embraces such socks. save the chuckles for purely social occasions like watching television with the family.

 

Too much leg

It's bad enough for the hem of a man's pants to hike up way above his ankles when he sits. It's worse for that same view to show bare leg In some countries, it's considered downright offensive, This blunder is easily remedied by purchasing socks that cover the calf, aptly called “over-the-calf hose."

 

Briefcases

The style of briefcase you choose should be driven mostly by its use. If you rely on a laptop, it will be a laptop carrier. If you travel Frequently and need a portable desk, it should be l1:n'd-sllelle(l. If you have to tote mounds of paper, a larger capacity soft side is appropriate. If you're only carrying a few documents, a slim underarm leather envelope is fine, all are acceptable.

Style of briefcase matters less than quality. Whatever the style, it should be leather, as fine a grade as you can afford. Its color should match the shoes and belt you wear most often, which for now is black. Don’t ignore wear and tear: If the briefcase looks beaten up, you may, too. As important as what’s on the outside is what’s inside. The briefcase is much like the wallet in this way. What is or isn’t inside says a lot about the man carrying it. It it’s overloaded, disorganized, or badly in need of a good cleaning out, its carrier is probably similarly guilty. Neat, organized, focused on the essentials? Ditto. Whatever you do, don’t go into meetings outside the office carrying a naked legal pad, loose papers, or whatever it is you require. Nor should you haul a big briefcase around with only three ballpoint pens and a notebook in it. The first appears unprofessional, the second self-important. Invest in a slim leather envelope or notebook and use it.

 

Pens

Most men don’t think of a pen as an accessory, l)ut it’s one of those little touches that can make a great impression. We don’t suggest you rush out and spend your first paycheck on a fine Waterman or Mont Blane. We do suggest you purchase a supply of quality, unadorned, capped ink pens in a non-plastic-looking finish, black ink only. This way you won’t wind up taking notes with some funky free pen featuring a competitor’s corporate logo, nor will you risk irritating anyone by mindlessly clicking a ballpoint during meetings. Keep two of your pens on you at all times. Be prepared to offer one to your client, your boss, the woman wanting to share her phone number. Tell them to keep it. People remember these things.

 

Cellphone

Ha gotcha! Irrespective of the fact the cell phone have become an appendage as common as the nose, it is not, nor should it ever be, an accessory. In public, the cell phone should be neither seen not heard - and most certainly not worn. No nifty leather cases attached to belts, no clips to pants pockets, no strange wires dangling from ears, and no headsets. If you must be in touch constantly, tuck the phone discreetly in a pocket and switch it to "vibrate."

 

Umbrella

Wanted: One quality folded sturdy black umbrella. Must be willing to travel. Nothing cheap. This baby has to take wind, weather, and revolving doors in stride. No logos, no patterns, no slogans, no mult1'colorezl golf varieties. Polished solid wood handle, hooked to hang on the back of a chair. Standard manual opening mechanism (no one needs malfunction in a downpour). Carry it always, especially on suspicious days. You may be someone‘s hero.

 

Dress hats

There’s an old saying about how you never forget a woman in a hat. Be careh.il the same doesn't apply to you. lf it’s certifiably frigid outside, a dark felt or wool fedora is acceptable, as long as you park it as soon as you get inside the office.

 

Scarves

Wool scarves can be very handsome not to mention toasty, tucked in the neck of an overcoat. But they are not to be worn without an overcoat. They should never be a suit accessory. That is for women only. Resist loud patterns, overly long proportions, dangly fringe, and bulky, itchy wools. Choose quietly contrasting solids (deep reds) and subtle tone-on-tone dark plaids that are soft to the touch. Cashmere is the best. But if you can’t afford it, some inexpensive acrylics do a reasonable imitation.

The silk scarf is best avoided. Although some silks add an elegant touch with a topcoat, beware the color and shine. White is out of the question unless with a tuxedo. You don’t want to come off as some wannabe opera singer.

 

Gloves

A leather glove for cold weather adds both elegance and warmth. Black is the first choice, assuming your overcoat is navy, charcoal gray, or black. Chocolate brown is also viable with navy and is preferred with a camel or khaki top coat. Gloves can be lined or unlined, depending on the climate. But they should be real leather with nice, fight seams and no obvious decoration. Note that gloves should only be worn with an overcoat. Wearing gloves with just a suit looks like you’re out to commit a crime.

 

Eyeglasses

Contact lenses and advanced surgery have erased this dilemma for many men. But those whose vision challenges can’t be solved thusly need to be extremely careful about selecting frames. We can’t resist saying it’s easy to make a spectacle of yourself with frames that are too large, too small, or ill-shaped for your face and head. Too large and you’re Mr. Peepers. Too small and you look like John Lennon in the Yoko years. You get the idea. The best advice is to seek out a frame shop with professionals who will give you yes/no advice. Ask the salesperson to tell you the shape of your face (this is a test) and if the answer is right, he or she gets to make recommendations.

In general, pupils should he in the center of the frame and eyebrows should he close to the top of the frame. Stay away from bold shiny metal rims, as they look like jewelry. Small metal frames, however, can be elegant. Black plastic frames look Elvis Costello—strange. High-fashion extremes are out, as is anything bearing a designers logo. Gravitate towards classics like rimless or some variation of tortoiseshell. For good measure, wear your suit when trying on glasses. Always have two pairs in your current prescription that look good. They can even be identical, if that makes you happy. If one pair breaks or gets lost, resorting to some funky old pair or—dare we even say it?—performing a paper-clip/safety-pin temporary fix-it is not an option.

A word of caution on lenses: Never tint them for indoor wear. Don’t even go for those gradient indoor/outdoor lenses. Shading makes you look shady. Be equally mindful of sensible style when picking out sunglasses. Subdued, dude. The UV resistance provides essential protection for your eyes, but whip shades off the minute—the minute—you enter a building. Your future is not that bright.

 

 

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