Given that men's clothes tend to be plainer, accessories for us chaps are often all the more important. It is widely acknowledged that some well-chosen details can not only make an outfit look more expensive, they can also bring it bang up-to-date. And that’s why you’ll need to select yours with great care.
Whatever your budget, or your style, the following quintet are some of the most desirable accessories for any man. After all, it’s the little things that really count.
1. THE POCKET SQUARE
Mad Men’s iconic Don Draper and that defining flash of silk on his jacket – as white as his teeth and straight as his jaw – has at a stroke reclaimed that most dashing element of a man’s wardrobe: the pocket square.
The dapper creative director on the cult TV show could have been mistaken for any other high-ranking executive were it not for that glimpse of white silk – there for no other reason than effect. A useless, but essential, accessory, it’s not there to blow his nose on, but to announce to the world that, when it comes to style, he cares.
HOW TO PICK ONE
There's no steadfast rule for choosing a pocket square. Whether you're a businessman, a style-savvy student or a fashion peacock, it should simply complement your shirt and tie, not match them. If it looks right and feels right, walk out the door.
Sure, you can, like Mad Men’s Don Draper, wear a classic white pocket square. But if you want to be noticed, you might like to get some colour and texture going on. And remember: there's no such thing as a dressy or a casual hankie—it'll take on the personality of what you're wearing. That means a gingham one works with your dressiest business suit or a weekend blazer. Remember: It's just a pocket square. Don't overthink it.
Cufflinks were historically the mark of a gentleman since they were only worn with shirts sporting double cuffs, which traditionally were only paired with suits. These days that all feels a bit last century and plenty of men now wear their double-cuffed shirts with trousers and a jacket.
Whether it’s Beckham or Bond, men have, once again, started to use cufflinks not solely for their function but in order to express their individuality and personal style. On one end of the spectrum, you have the inexpensive designs, and on the other, the meticulously handcrafted pieces. But, thankfully, whatever your taste, and whatever the depth of your pockets, there’s bound to be a cufflink to suit.
HOW TO PICK THEM
There are many ways to go about choosing cufflinks, but the general idea is that your cufflinks should speak about you. When everyone is dressed in a suit with buttoned cuffs, your racket-and-tennis-ball cufflinks peeking under your jacket will subtly signal that, well, you love tennis. If finances permit, you can, of course, also pick intricately designed cufflinks of precious metals and gemstones, although discreet is usually preferable to bling.
3. THE EVERYDAY BAG
No matter how far the young urban male may have come from his 90s alpha male counterpart, bags for us gents remain a tricky business. They need to be functional – easy to carry, big enough for business essentials, gym kit and a fresh shirt or top for the evening – and not so fey that you would be embarrassed in front of your boss.
HOW TO PICK ONE
Lugging your daily haul has never looked better as numerous manufacturers have brought their accessory A-game this season, giving you a wealth of choice.
A few key tips will help you separate the wheat from the chaff, and help you bag a design that will get you noticed for the right reasons.
Avoid overly elaborate decoration and extraneous bells and buckles, etc. Despite what some people may think, it's not a handbag, so functions should always come first. If organisation is not your strong point, a cavernous tote is probably not ideal as you’ll inevitably find yourself rooting around frantically trying to locate your phone charger, house keys and wallet.
And think practically about its size and weight – your bag should be sufficiently light and compact to carry without incurring a rotator cuff injury. Remember: bigger is not always better.
We understand perfectly well that the phone in your pocket tells the time. And yet, a watch remains the undisputable daddy of men’s accessories.
Not only does it punctuate an outfit; it also says something about who you are—or, at least, who you aspire to be. So forget about technological advances for a moment. Think of a watch as you would a tie: Who cares if it's not purely functional? It still plays an integral role in what it means to be a man.
HOW TO PICK ONE
Spending on a premium quality timepiece may seem indulgent but it can also be an investment. Purchase prudently and you can make your money back and then some. Think of it as an endowment policy. The right watch will always sell at auction – something that rarely happens with other pricy accessories like a handbag or shoes.
That’s not to say, of course, that you need to spend a month’s salary on your timepiece – it’s easy to find some wrist candy that ticks the boxes without breaking the bank.
Our tips? Steer clear of those huge vulgar affairs, beloved by blinged-up rappers and Premier League footballers. After all, do you really need a 50mm-wide, diamond encrusted, water-resistant watch that can tell the time on the moon? Probably not.
Opt, instead, for something sleek, sophisticated and simple, a watch that you won’t tire of and can wear both at work and at the weekend. Whatever your style, please, pick with the utmost of care. After all, a wrist is a terrible thing to waste.
5. THE WALLET
Whether you're an accessories expert or not, a wallet is the one thing every man will own in his lifetime. And it's worth getting a decent one, too.
Regardless of whether it’s housing platinum cards or loyalty cards, your wallet says way more about you than where you bank, so invest in it wisely.
HOW TO PICK ONE
What wallet you choose really comes down to your needs – if you’re often lugging around a pocketful of change, look to one with a coin holder. If you’re more of a cards and notes man, it’s hard to look beyond a sleek zip-around or an understated bi-fold.
Your choice of wallet should also chime with your personal style. A jeans and T-shirt man? A light leather or even a fabric wallet is functional yet casual. Suited and booted? Look to a darker finish for a more sophisticated style.
With so many designs on the market, it’s tricky to whittle the options down. But, for what it’s worth, we’d recommend a leather bi-fold. Discreet and classy, it always fits the bill!