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The Approach to Mens’ Accessories Part II

Back in October I gave a good starting point for accessories. We talked about Ties, Pocket Squares and Tie Bars but there are still some major things missing from the list that I want to talk about too.

Regarding mens’ accessories, we aren’t fortunate enough to have those key pieces that women have that seem to go with anything. In my opinion, variety is what gets the job done for us. No one thing will go with every outfit. Sometimes you don’t have a breast pocket for a pocket square. Sometimes the weather won’t permit for scarves. And sometimes you just don’t feel like wearing a tie. But the more you have the better your options will be.

Now I understand budget is often an issue and I’m not telling you to go out immediately and spend three hundred dollars on accessories. I’ve built my collection to where it is now over two years. Let the environments you frequent shape your accessory choices. Consider your comfort. Buy only a few things at a time so you can experiment and get a feel for them and then build from there. No part of a wardrobe needs to be rushed and it’s never ever about how much money you spend, it’s about what you are spending it on.

So let’s take a look at some accessories inspired by the Christmas season.

Scarves

(Forgive the photo. These are all darker in person.)

The scarf is a really old accessory. It was first put to use in ancient Rome during hot weather to wipe up sweat. Finer materials came about and women picked up on the concept and made it into one of the most versatile pieces of clothing around today.

The basics on a scarf are the material and the patterning.

As far as material goes there are two camps: Cashmere and everything else. The Cashmere crowd is pretty insistent on what their scarf needs to be made out of and nothing else will do. They typically have the same requirement for a lot of garments like sweaters.

As far as I’m concerned Cashmere is nice, real nice. The feel is great, it sheds less from what I’ve noticed and the feel is amazing. That being said, the price for Cashmere anything never justifies the pros of buying 100% Cashmere. Especially considering that anything Cashmere is typically a seasonal item. I could buy one of Macy’s eighty five dollar Cashmere scarves and only get three or four months of use out of it. That’s a lot of money for a seasonal accessory. Not only that but you’re likely not going to have it on except while outside. I’ve bought Cashmere items before, back in the beginning of my style overhaul when I thought cost equated to how “good” something was, but now I avoid it.

Get a Cashmere blend or whatever feels good to you. I recently bought three scarves for ten dollars each from a kiosk in my local mall. The feel is incredibly soft. The quality is good enough to get me through winter. They shed some but I can live with it considering the cost was a third of the cost of a single Cashmere.

As for the patterning, it’s usually either solids or Tartan. I like solids better because I don’t have to worry about the patterning of my other exposed layer clashing with the pattern on the scarf. That being said, Tartan is probably the more popular choice. Tartan looks great too. It’s one of the most basic fundamental clothing patterns in the world. Hell, a Tartan ribbon was the first thing every photographed in color so it’s pretty important. Nothing wrong with Tartan.

Now when it comes time to pick a scarf the first thing I consider is if I’m wearing a jacket and whether that jacket will be open or closed. Basically, if your under layers aren’t showing you can get away with just about any scarf color and pattern. If the layers under the jacket are going to be seen then you need to treat the scarf like a tie and match the colors in your outfit the right way.

I wouldn’t wear a scarf without a jacket of some kind. To me, it’s mismatched bulk around your neck without the jacket.

Tying up the scarf is another matter of opinion. I prefer a looser look with my scarves. A little bit of billowing in the wind makes you feel like kind of a big deal. Which you are.

Socks

(Just some of my Argyles and Stripes)

Socks, Dads’ most common Christmas gift, as an accessory you say? Why not, people see them frequently and we spend so much time trying to have the right shoe so why wouldn’t we want the right socks? Think of socks as both a functional item and as an accessory for your ankles.

Argyle is another one of those patterns that deserves our attention. It’s flashy, it demands your attention. It’s color and it’s pattern and since most pants and shoes are solid you won’t have to worry about a blowing peoples’ eyeballs up with clashing designs. Trust me, people will notice and they will compliment you. Don’t be afraid to be noticed. Payne Stewart knew how to rock Argyle. People noticed and he loved the attention.

Stripped is a fine pattern too but Argyle is the way to go for me. If it has more than one visible color on it then i’m happy.

As far as where to get them, Target will have lots of color and pattern options in their Merona line. They’re generally about 2.50$ each and the variety is good. Trouble is the stitching at the toe is pretty weak and I’ve busted a lot of them. But for 2.50$ I got some use out of them and can’t complain. Macy’s has their Club Room versions which they sell three pairs for about 12.00$. So for a little less than double the price you get, in my opinion, better variety and socks that last much longer.

When picking a pair of socks to wear there are a few ways to go. First of all, ignore everything you’ve heard about shoes determining what sock color you can wear. It’s not the shoes that dictate what socks you can wear; it’s your overall outfit. I generally try to match the majority color of the sock to the color of the pants for a seamless transition between my ankles and my leg. Then I pick a sock with whatever color is most prominent in the rest of my outfit.

And gentlemen, athletic socks be they white or black, have only one place and that’s being worn with your gym shoes. And your gym shoes are only every being worn where? At the gym right?

So until next time that’s my approach to men’s accessories. Have anything to share, please feel free.

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