Snap, Crackle, POP! Menswear Accessories
Written by Vander Harris
Photographed by Sydney Maples
Modeled by Vander Harris
What makes what a guy wears pop? We all know that fit is king in menswear (nothing beats a well-tailored suit), but what is second in command? Accessories. Accessories can set an outfit from being just “nice” to getting that ultimate compliment (“where do you shop?”).
Placing so much emphasis on accessories in menswear may not seem intuitive since the fashion industry concentrates so much on women’s accessories—from purses to shoes to jewelry—as key aspects of women’s outfits. Even youthful, prêt-à-porter brands like Forever 21 perpetuate the idea that accessories are just for women; their online catalog has only a handful of accessories in its men’s section compared to the hundreds of options in its women’s section. But I’d like to think that, because men’s clothing traditionally has less accessories to work with, it makes the accessories you do wear speak even louder.
While there is less accessorizing in menswear than womenswear, the idea that menswear doesn’t have a wide range of accessories to utilize is actually an illusion. There are many accessories that can be used in menswear, including: earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, belts, backpacks, satchels, pen, wallets, belt hooks, socks, money clip, glasses, phone cases, rings, and ankle bracelets. (This does not even include the accessories that are at your disposal when the temperature drops.) A fair amount of energy does need to be put into finding accessories that fit your style and your budget. Since it does take time and thought to find and define which accessories to incorporate, once the careful choice is made, these thoughtful additions really make a menswear outfit pop.
When shopping for accessories, one should consider quality and style over price. Some of the best accessory finds are discovered by accident at places like clearance racks, liquidation sales, and thrift stores. It is important to note that for many accessories, an expensive price tag does not mean it will make an outfit pop any better.
When selecting which accessories to pair with an outfit, wearing fewer accessories—as opposed to layering too many at once—will come off as defining your style rather than senselessly accentuating it. I like the idea of three’s; sticking to three, well-defined accessories and adding them to garments (with an excellent fit, of course) will make for a smashing outfit. For example, a pair of sharp Ray Ban glasses, a sleek money clip hooked into a shirt pocket, and a leather satchel can work strongly together.
For each accessory, it takes time to figure out the styles you like and on which types of occasions you like to wear them. Maybe you enjoy the looks you receive when people catch a glimpse of your gold chain under your shirt while out at a bar, or perhaps you’re more of a freshly pressed pocket square kind of fellow. Whatever it is, it takes time to get comfortable with the accessories that fit you. But once you find your signature accessory-induced pop, you will start to think an outfit is naked without it.