Unless you work in a creative field – designer, artist, musician – your outfits probably look more like a uniform: collared shirt and dress pants during the week, t-shirt and jeans on the weekend.
While there’s nothing wrong with having some go-to looks to streamline your morning routine (Steve Jobs famously wore black turtlenecks and jeans every day so he didn’t have to think about what to wear), you don’t have to dress like an eccentric CEO unless you want to. And if you want to express yourself a little more, there’s a way to break out of your style rut without breaking the bank: accessories.
Compared to women, men don’t have as many opportunities for changing up their look. And a lot of guys worry that deviating from the expected formula will make them stand out from the crowd – and not in a good way.
This is where accessories shine. These small personal touches are simply adding interesting details here and there. The goal is to put a finishing touch on your outfit. And while you can certainly choose items that hint at your sense of humor, the goal is to look put-together, not silly or cartoonish.
A wristwatch is the ultimate men’s accessory. Some collectors drool over investment models, but you don’t have to drop several months’ rent to acquire a stylish timepiece. Many guys are opting for stylish (and affordable) casual watches for everyday wear.
Socks are a great place to start playing with color and pattern – the entry level offbeat accessory, if you will. At the most, you’ll flash an inch or two of ankle, offering just a glimpse of a bright color or unexpected print. And even in more conservative companies, fun socks are (usually) tolerated. You can try out some more subtle options first, or jump right into bold prints and patterns.
Even though socks can be less noticeable than other accessories, keep your overall outfit in mind. If you have a more colorful shirt, choose a patterned sock rather than a brightly colored one. If you go for a strong color, keep the rest of your outfit a little more neutral – both so the socks get the attention and to avoid looking like a kids’ TV show host. Unless that’s your job. In that case, wear the silliest socks you can find.
The graphic stripes and hearts on this two-pack of Scotch & Soda socks aren’t too far out in left field, but they have more visual appeal than a solid color.
Variegated stripes and geometric patterns pop in bright colors in these Stance socks (or try them in neutral grays for a more formal feel).
Big, bold and bright, these polka dot Happy Socks are a little in-your-face, but the black and white color palette is minimalist enough to read as whimsical without edging into goofy.
While “the rules” that get repeated dictate matching your belt to your shoes, save the shiny leather for dressier occasions. You can add some color and texture with a cloth or braided leather belt, or choose a classic leather belt with an interesting buckle to straddle the casual-formal divide.
At first glance, tie bars look like more fashion than function. But if you’ve ever dipped your tie in your soup or had it slap you in the face on a windy day, a tie bar is a lifesaver. This slim piece of metal holds your tie to the button placket of your shirt (usually attached between the third and fourth shirt buttons).
You can find them in just about every color, shape, and design, from classic silver to fashion-forward neons, and representing every interest, hobby, and pastime you can imagine.
If you want to keep your tie bar as an accent vs, stealing the show, try an interesting shape in a neutral tone, or a more subtle color. One important note: the tie bar should never be wider than your tie.
The cufflink is a decorative element that feels formal (but doesn’t have to be). Again, there are a wealth of design options to choose from. You could wear a simple pair with a collared shirt and sports jacket, or a more modern style with a plaid collared shirt. And you don’t have to buy special shirts – if you have a shirt you’d like to wear with cufflinks, a tailor can easily convert the cuffs for you.
More than a humble handkerchief, a pocket square is an eye-catching accent. We placed this one last because it takes a little more attitude, a little more confidence to pull off. Stuffing a little square of patterned cloth into the pocket of your blazer doesn’t seem like it would have a big impact. But that small bit of fabric breaks up the solid expanse of your navy/black/charcoal jacket and adds a little panache to an otherwise plain suit.
Many stores sell pocket square and ties in sets, but you want your accessories to play off each other, not match exactly. Skip the sets and pick out a single color in a patterned tie with a solid pocket square, or vice versa. Don’t be afraid to try out some pattern mixing once you really get comfortable. Choosing a square with an unexpected pattern takes this accessory from stuffy to sharp.
There are many ways to fold a pocket square, so choose one and practice it a few times until it’s second nature.
Pirate skulls have a bit of a tough edge, without being too serious.
We didn’t want to include glasses as an “accessory” since they serve a function for a specific group of people, and we don’t encourage the trend of glasses without lenses in them. It feels a bit like wearing a broken watch.
But for those gents whose vision needs a bit of enhancement, having different styles, sizes, and colors of frames is one of the most dramatic ways of influencing how you look.
Not too long ago a pair of glasses was like a smartphone: They were very expensive, you had one, took utmost care of it, and used it till it didn’t work anymore. And if you broke them? Whew – tape on the bridge for weeks.