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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Accessories

Colored shoelaces

Mark Kwak

First off, I want to say sorry for everyone who's wrote into me this last week and a half. Been pretty slow in replying back. I hate to give this generic reasoning, but unfortunately I've been super busy as of late. Anyhow, I did get one question that I wanted to share with you all and elaborate on a bit. It has to do with colored shoelaces:

I've been noticing colored shoelaces on black or brown oxfords from time to time. I've searched your blog for your opinion on the matter, but don't seem to have found anything. What is your take on this trend?  - Jon

Great question Jon. Personally, I am a fan of this colored shoelaces trend. Spices things up a bit, but does it subtly, unlike say... bright yellow chinos. However, I will say that you should reserve contrasting/colored shoe laces only for specific situations (read: more casual situations). In my opinion, wearing hot pink shoelaces on a black oxford shoe at a client meeting is both unprofessional and obnoxious. However, if you're wearing purple shoelaces with your Clarks Desert Boots during a casual night out, then I'm all for it.

When pairing contrasting laces with dress shoes, keep things as casual as you can. Try to avoid wearing green laces with conservative cap toes/plain toes, but instead try them on wingtips, brogued shoes, or other more casual offerings.

When looking at casual leather shoes, go wild. Just make sure the colors work somewhat cohesively. Just because you add some loud color to your black shoes doesn't mean it looks good.

Hope that helps!

Accessories Part 2: Eyeglasses, Cuff Links, Gloves

Mark Kwak

Time for the second installment of my accessories series. Today, we'll be covering eyeglasses, cuff links, and gloves. All accessories that are, in my opinion, usually unnecessary unless you actually need them for functional reasons. What do I mean by this? Well, I think men who have perfect vision, don't own french cuff shirts, and live in warmer climates, do not need any of the above accessories. However, in the case where you have bad vision, own a french cuff shirt, and live in a cold area, you absolutely need all of these accessories. Okay, enough with the obvious.

First, eyeglasses. To be honest, I think this one is especially hard to give any advice on. Mainly because the aesthetics of a pair of glasses differs drastically based on the shape of one's face. Lenscrafters has this interesting recommendation sheet for different face shapes, so check it out if you have the time. Anyway, for this reason, what I'll do is show you a couple types of eyeglasses that I'm a fan of, and different attributes I like.

1. Classic black plastic rims

2. Tortoise for brown haired folk

3. Clubmasters for small or skinny faces.

Next, cuff links. If you wear french cuff shirts, you should definitely own a couple pairs of cuff links. The first pair you get should be relatively conservative, usually in a gold or silver, or whatever matches your other metals (watch, belt buckle, etc.). I generally recommend silver as it will be the most neutral metal color out there.

If you're going to own only one pair, get something relatively plain if you can, like below:

Once you've got your main ones, it's always fun to branch out into other random shapes and designs. Kind of like these:

Source: VictorSF

And if you're in the mood for cheap, casual cufflinks, I'm a fan of knot cufflinks. Here are some by Brooks Brothers in case you don't know what they are. They're simple, fun, and will certainly get the job done.

Lastly, gloves. If we are talking about gloves used for non-outdoorsy purposes, I think that you really need to get a pair of leather or wool (or cashmere) gloves. Cotton, as well as synthetics, do not do a good job of keeping your hands warm or dry. As for color, if you're going leather, brown or black is best. For wool, I'd say it's more flexible, but I'm a fan of grey or brown. Here are a couple that I'm a fan of:

Source: VictorSF

 

Okay, so there are my next three preferences! Again, these are really just my preferences, so don't be offended if your favorite design or brand isn't up here. Watch out for the next set of accessories soon!

 

Accessories Part 1: Socks, Pocket Squares, Tie Bars

Mark Kwak

Today, I want to talk to you about my favorite types of socks, pocket squares, and tie bars, three accessories that I believe every man should have at least one of (definitely way more than one for socks). First let's start with socks. I don't intend to talk about plain black socks or athletic white socks because I want to showcase socks that can help step up your style game a notch. Though there's nothing wrong with white or black socks, there is certainly a loss of creativity with them.

Anyway, I've said it time and time again, but I'm a huge fan of bold colored socks. They can be solid in color, like below:

or they can be patterned. We're talking stripes, argyle, dots, etc.

The main thing is that you have to find socks that work well with the rest of the colors in your outfit. When I wear a blue shirt, I like to have my socks have a hint of blue in it somewhere. Or if my tie is red, I like my socks to have some red in it.

If you're really daring, and every other part of your outfit is impeccable, you can also just follow this rule:

Next, pocket squares. I think a pocket square is a wonderful accessory to help you bring out the most of your style knowledge. Pocket squares add a little pizzazz to boring or conservative outfits, and can make a plain navy or charcoal suit stand out in a sea of other navy or charcoal suits.

When it comes to picking out a pocket square, I must admit that it really depends on the situation. You want to coordinate your pocket square with the rest of your outfit, and make sure that it works seamlessly overall. Linen/cotton is a good fabric for more casual outings, while silk is good for formal situations.

I highly recommend getting at least a clean white pocket square first, as that will be your most used. It's classic, easy, and versatile.

After you've gotten that one, venture out into other patterns and colors. Blues, pinks, greys, and creams are good if you want to play it safe, while purples, greens, and reds work to help make a statement. Here's an example of a pocket square I like:

Lastly, tie bars (or tie clips). To be truthful, I don't necessarily think a tie bar is an accessory that you should have a ton of. I personally have two, but think that I might have one too many. Now, I've seen some really cool tie clips out there, and perhaps it's an accessory you can collect, but to me, the only tie clip you'll ever need is a simple plain silver 1 inch (or 1.5 inch) tie clip, kind of like what you see below.

So there you have it, my preferences for socks, pocket squares, and tie bars. Watch out for the next three accessories soon!

 

Men's Accessories

Mark Kwak

I didn't realize how much guys cared about accessories until I started writing this blog. Questions around ties, wristbands, pocket squares, etc. have been filling my inbox, and I feel like I need to address these issues head on, as it looks like the topic of accessories is more important than I once believed.

I used to think that we, as men, didn't really wear accessories. Maybe just a watch? I used to look at women, and the plethora of accessories they wear, and thank God that I didn't have to go through the drudgery of picking out those types of accessories for myself. Turns out I may have been wrong, and that men wear almost as many accessories as women on a daily basis, all without realizing it.

Let me list them out for you:

1. Sunglasses

2. Watches

3. Bracelets

4. Pocket Squares

5. Ties

6. Belts

7. Bags

8. Cuff Links

9. Tie Bars

10. Eyeglasses

11. Scarves

12. Necklaces

13. Wallets

14. Hats

15. Gloves

16. Maybe Even Socks?

I'll tell you right now, I own almost every one of those accessories, and so starting tomorrow, I want to delve into my personal preferences for some of these categories. They'll be quick posts, just showcasing what I personally like to see/own, but hopefully (fingers crossed) they'll be interesting nevertheless. Keep a watch out.

Chester Mox card holders

Mark Kwak

Recently, I've been pretty interested in card holders and money clips. What's not to like about them? They reduce the bulk in your pockets, keep you from carrying unnecessary things, and can help you keep your wallet in your front pocket, away from any imminent danger.

Anyhow, talking specifically about card holders, one company that has caught my eye is Chester Mox. I think the blog "Put This On" talks about this company quite often, but after checking through some of their products myself, I have to say that they have piqued my interest.

Not only do they use some really fine leathers from Horween (the same guys who offer leather to Alden, C&J, Allen Edmonds, etc.), but they also handcraft everything here in the states. The designs are simple yet elegant, the prices are not insane (though they aren't necessarily cheap), and you can even personalize them so that your name or initials can replace the Chester Mox logo!

Personalization costs only $10, and their wallets start at around $39. They can go up in price to the hundreds, but one of my personal favorites is this gem at only $60. [Edit: Looks like they completely changed up their site and jacked up prices after I posted this. This one is similar to the one I was looking at before, but it's $65] These things can easily hold your cash, maybe 4-5 cards, and still remain compact enough for you to slip into your denim front pockets.

I'm looking at getting one myself in the next couple days. Perhaps I'll follow up with a review if things go well (or poorly).

A simple case for better sunglasses

Mark Kwak

On the left are my tried and true Oliver Peoples sunglasses; the one you've seen on this blog probably far too much. On the right is a pair of free sunglasses that I think I got from a swag day at my company. They look similar, but let me tell you why I think it's worth it to go with the sunglasses on the left over the ones on the right. DSC_0083

Okay, I'm going to throw a little bit of a curveball at you. Instead of focusing on style, quality, longevity, durability, and other very important benefits to having premium sunglasses, I'm going to focus instead on a reason that people often overlook when deciding between crappy sunglasses, and a pair of, let's say, Ray-Bans.

Generally when you pay the extra buck or two for sunglasses, and this doesn't have to be some outrageous amount (like $450 for Prada glasses), you will end up caring about your sunglasses exponentially more than if they were some cheap $15 glasses you found at a flea market in Brooklyn.

Before I started spending more than $25 for a pair of sunglasses, I probably replaced about 20-30 pairs, and each had a maximum lifespan of about 5-6 months. I may have left them on a table somewhere, or accidentally crushed them in my pocket, but in either case, I didn't really pay attention to the glasses because they were so cheap and replaceable.

Then I bought a pair of Ray-Ban wayfarers on sale for $75. The moment I got those, not only did the glasses look and feel much better than my previous pairs, but I also cared about them far more. I took care of them when I could, I made 100% sure not to lose them or put them in some compromising situation, and also incorporated them into my outfits much more thoughtfully. I would assume this all happened because psychologically, I just couldn't accept losing a pair of $75 Ray-Bans due to some in-the-moment stupidity on my part.

So my recommendation is to try a nice pair of sunglasses out sometime if you don't already own a pair. You'll find that the fear you have about losing them or crushing them and wasting your money will actually help you do just the opposite.

My essentials

Mark Kwak

Though my outfits change from day to day, some key items always stay the same. You can call them my everyday carries, or perhaps my essentials. I almost never leave the house without them, and in case you're curious, here they are. Geez, didn't realize I always carry so much. edc1

1. iPhone 5

2. Hugo Boss bi-fold leather wallet

3. Oliver Peoples Daddy-B sunglasses

4. Vaseline Lip Therapy

5. Apolis transit issue key chain + keys + bottle opener

6. Klipsch X10 earphones

7. Omega Seamaster Professional Planet Ocean

My sunglasses and watch will change out from time to time, but this is basically it! I'm also considering swapping out the wallet as well since it's a bit bigger than I'd ideally prefer.

I'm curious, what are your everyday essentials? Do you carry more or less than me?