American financier Sanford Weill once proclaimed that ‘details create the big picture’. Now, Sanford may have been talking about pounds and pence (or dollars and cents), but the same holds true for your wardrobe. The details – your accessories – are vitally important to your overall picture. Applied well, they contribute to the creation of a coherent whole, adding colour, texture and individuality. Worn badly, they can wreak havoc with your look and render elegance an elusive pipe dream.
Accessories add much-needed colour, texture and personality to otherwise conservative clothing. I would go so far as to assert that adding carefully chosen accessories to a gentleman’s business or casual look can have more of an impact for a man than for his female counterparts, as he has fewer overall outfit options. At first glance, you may think that there are limited accessories to choose from. I would disagree. Let’s take a closer look.
Watches are an obvious starting point. Even in these days of gadgetry, an elegant watch speaks volumes about a man. It’s worthwhile having more than one: a watch for daily business wear, a dress watch and a sporty version for weekends.
Socks (plain, striped or spotted) are an easy way to add colour and fun without undermining your professional credentials. Braces are another way to add interest – but you must be comfortable wearing them or you will not be able to pull off this look successfully !
The cufflinks market has exploded, and there are so many designs and materials to choose from. You can choose cufflinks that reflect your personal interests, hobbies and passions: horses, anchors, propellors, playing cards, etc.
When considering ties and belts, it’s always best to go for contrast, so that at least one element stands out. If you’re wearing a striped shirt, go for a completely contrasting tie (a solid colour, or even a contrasting pattern). The stronger the contrast, the greater the impact. Newsreader Jon Snow lifts his overall look with bright ties and socks; they have become his immediately identifiable ‘trademark’.
I spent the morning at Simon Clarke’s Brighton boutique recently, and the team there told me that tie clips are also big sellers. They are another small way to add an element of individuality (and old-school elegance) to your overall look.
Wallets, although not often on display, can add pizzazz as you pay for your morning latte. Paul Smith and Aspinal of London make leather wallets with iconic British designs – union jacks and classic Minis – to liven things up a bit.
When selecting your accessories, choose carefully. Remember: invest in a few simple pieces that work with a number of items in your wardrobe.
Thanks to Simon Clarke Brighton for the images.