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

Filtering by Tag: accessories

Style in what you carry, not just what you wear

Mark Kwak

Today, let's just assume that you know everything it takes to look good. You've read every menswear blog, magazine, and article in the world, and have developed the perfect wardrobe specifically for you. Well now that you're playing in the big leagues, perhaps it's time to step it up to the next level and focus on the details. Let's talk about not just what you're wearing, but what you're carrying on you!

Sure, most people won't ever get a chance to see the things you carry, like your wallet, phone or keys. But what's important is that you'll see them. Pretty much every single day of your life, actually. So doesn't it make sense to invest a little more in the things you carry? Wouldn't it be nice to crack a smile every time you pull out that awesome-looking handmade leather wallet from Portland, Oregon?

If you feel like we're speaking the same language, here are some tips on how to jazz up your "everyday carries."

1. Keychain: If you live in an apartment/house, drive a car, or even just have a mailbox, then you have keys. Time to put those keys on a half decent keychain. Mostly this is for aesthetic pleasure, but it does make a difference. This one is mine and I'm a huge fan of it. It almost makes carrying around my keys a bit of a pleasure. If you drink beer as well, I'd recommend attaching a nice looking bottle opener to the chain. This one's pretty cool.

2. Phone: I think statistics say that the modern American spends more time on their phone than they do on everything else in their life, combined. Just playing, but you get the point. You use it often, so put a nice case on it to not only protect it, but also make it look better. My favorite materials to case phones in are wood, leather, and metal. I personally use the leather case that Apple carries in-store. It's expensive, but I love it.

3. Wallet: I recommend keeping your wallet slim, it just looks better all around. Minimalism, man! For that reason, card holders like these (I have this one from Everlane) or money clips do the job the best. The days of chunky wallets are over, so do yourself a favor and ask for a nice card holder this Christmas! By the way, you can never go wrong with black or brown leather.

4. Bag: I talk a little bit about it in this previous article, but having a stylish bag is a big plus. I can go into this topic in quite a bit of detail, but I'll keep it simple here. If you're wearing a backpack, simplicity and slimness are the names of the game. A pretty inexpensive option is Herschel. I think Herschel makes some nice looking bags that hold up well over time.  If you're going with a messenger or single strap bag, think about canvas or leather as the primary material. I've preached Filson a million times before, but I'll continue to tout it here. There are so many other makers of good bags out there, so here's a link to someone who's done far more research to help you out (though this is more specifically briefcases).

Upgrade your "everyday carry game" my friends. In the slight chance that someone notices your wallet or keychain, you might even get a compliment or two. Stay awesome and eat plenty of turkey y'all.

Having just one accessory

Mark Kwak

I think too often, we approach accessories as items we can easily interchange. Magazines and fashion blogs are constantly pushing people to buy a variety of different accessories, just so they can wear one color or fabric on a given day, and something completely different the next day.

Think wristbands, or watches. Sunglasses and scarves. Changing between different types day by day.

Well today, I feel the need to say quite the opposite of all these magazines and fashion blogs. Personally, I'm a fan of a person who consistently wears the same accessories, and ultimately, through repetition, really makes them his own.

I'll give you an example. Ever since I was a little kid, my father wore the same wrist watch day in and day out. This accessory of his became a small, but tangible part of who he was to me. If I saw him without his watch anytime our family went out somewhere, something was definitely a little weird.

One of my roommates is another example. He wears one pair of sunglasses, and hasn't even thought about getting another. "I have one that looks and works well, what's the point of getting another one?" I kind of agree.

Anyhow, I think it's refreshing to see a person wear their tried and true accessories over and over again, without making any changes. As long as they're confidently worn, and out of your choice.

Here are the accessories I think make for good "one-only" pieces:

1. Sunglasses. When I think Tom Cruise, I think Ray-Ban aviator. Him wearing another pair (which I'm sure he does) just doesn't seem right.

2. Eyeglasses. One of my buddies alternates between two glasses. However, he used to wear just one type before. I like his image wearing just the original pair.

3. Watches. I personally have two watches I'd like to rotate between, but there's something really cool about someone who just wears one watch everyday. As long as it's relatively conservative in appearance, why not?

4. Wallet. Don't really see the point of alternating between a bunch of wallets since it's in your pocket most of the time.

5. Keychain. Same argument as wallet.

Sure, some people like to rotate between different types out of each of these accessories because it can be boring to have the same one all the time. I don't disagree with you! Nonetheless, I'm saying there is some virtue to just having one.

My suggestion is to get a worthwhile, high quality version of each of these accessories, and stick with just one of them. People will associate the accessory with you, and there will be a sentimental aspect to that said accessory over time.

Plus it makes your life simpler. You'll be a simpler man. Yep I went there.

 

Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Mark Kwak

You know, I started this accessories series several months ago and never really got to finishing it. Man, I'm terrible. Well, here I am to continue it at least.

In case you forgot, I was simply going over all the different accessories that a man can wear. Before I started the series, I had this notion that men simply do not wear accessories (save watches). Turns out there are a ton of accessories guys wear, and I wanted to let you know my thoughts on all of the different types. Today we go over accessories that go around your neck: necklaces, scarves, and ties.

Okay, necklaces.

Necklaces used to be huge. Remember those shell necklaces everyone wore in middle school, or perhaps the black laced necklaces with some sort of emblem on it? Well, today, necklaces aren't as big a deal, and in fact, I don't recommend folks wearing one unless it has some sort of sentimental value.

Are you a devout Christian that wears a cross necklace? Or a guy whose mother gave you a pure silver necklace when you graduated college? In these cases, I'm all for wearing necklaces. Otherwise, I'm going to say don't do it. For that reason, I'm not going to even put any recommendations here, sorry.

 

Scarves are one of my favorite accessories. However, they are really only appropriate during one, maybe two seasons a year. For this reason, I wouldn't go too crazy on buying a ton of scarves. Get a couple high quality ones, and you're good to go.

For the one or two you get, I recommend going cashmere. It'll be the warmest and most comfortable option. Also, I recommend going with a fairly conservative color like gray, black, navy, or brown. This will ensure your ability to match it with all different kinds of outfits. I'm particularly a fan of some of these below:

Here's one I own that I'm a big fan of from Black Fleece:

Oh and of course Burberry scarves. They can be a bit pretentious, but getting it in a more muted color like black/gray could be cool:

Either way, get a couple nice scarves and you'll be set for the winter, warm and toasty.

Ties. Ah, this could be a section all on its own. And it probably will be one day. Neck ties are cool, and they show off your character more than you think. If you have the opportunity to wear a tie, make sure to put some thought into it, and try to complement the rest of your outfit.

A couple quick rules to keep in mind:

If you're wearing a jacket, try to match the width of your tie to the width of your lapel at the widest spot. These days, a 2" 3/4 inch tie is a pretty good width to have.

Also, to make your tie look a bit sleeker, wear it with a dimple, perhaps a tie clip when appropriate, and find the right knot for your look (four-in-hand is my favorite).

I think a man will usually end up with a bunch of ties in their life, but here are a couple essentials in my book.

1. The black tie.

2. The wool tie.

3. The striped tie.

4. The pindot tie.

If you want to add a couple more, I'd suggest getting some more solid colored ties outside of the black one, and perhaps a knit tie. Just typing this stuff up, I realize that it may take a couple more posts to really delve into ties.... So that's what I'll do instead.

Anyhow, when people are interacting with you, they're looking at your face, so make sure you keep your neck-wear game up. These accessories should help immensely. Cheers.

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.

Thoughts from a simpler woman: Bold Accessories

Mark Kwak

It's that time again. That time where I disappear for a bit, and bring to you a more important perspective on menswear than my own- a woman's. If you haven't checked out my previous "simpler woman" posts, you should definitely take a look. Here they are for you: 1 , 2 , 3 .

Today, we'll hear from one of my old college friends, Emilie. She's a fashion guru at heart, but also kind of a bonafide genius in pretty much every subject known to man (cough... that one Boston school... cough.... 4.0 galore). Thus, it might be worth it to listen to her advice.

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Bold Accessories

While I cannot quite put my finger on it, there is something about a man who enjoys the simple pleasures in life that catches my gaze.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s that guy at the corner coffee shop who takes his drip coffee in-house, absorbed in a dog-eared copy of the WSJ.  It’s that guy who enjoys a quiet whisky on the rocks after a long night at the office.  There is just something about a man with the confidence to enjoy the small pleasures in life.

Style is no exception. It’s that extra bit of bold execution, shouting adoration for life, that brings a grin to my curious eyes.  What better way to exude this sort of boldness than through tastefully-placed accessories? To me, the unexpected burst of color and whimsy can add so much to any man's outfit.

Audacity

Audacious socks that peek out from beneath an ensemble of dark slacks and a pressed button-up bring a hint of fun to the usual dark getup.  I’ve met my fair share of corporate men and it’s the ones that can make me laugh and bring a little humor that can make or break an evening.  Though you may be fenced behind a corporate lifestyle, a bit of unexpected cotton color hints at your affinity to flirt with life.

BOSS dress socks

boss socks

Simply Bold

A simple, bold watch hints at those nostalgic Calvin and Hobbes days.  Only now, the kid behind that grin is a youthful, twenty-something with a quick wit and an easy laugh.  Not every workday mandates a Patek Philippe dripping from your wrist.  With ease and some confidence, a playful watch will definitely invite a few grins your way.

 

Tic O-Clock Watch  

Foresight

Eyeglasses are a statement piece.  Forget the wire-rimmed spectacles that scream “I was an extra on Office Space.”  The subtle sexiness of a well-read man doesn’t escape us women.  Frame your face with a pair of fun edges.  We won’t be able to stop ourselves from imagining tossing those rims bedside later…if you ever happen to look up from that copy of the WSJ.  Have a little fun with an unconventional pair of specs.

 

Oliver Peoples NDG-1

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Emilie Simpler WomanEmilie, a Bay Area native, and recent convert to whiskey, currently lives in Boston.  In between hitting the books, she loves to get her travel on and restaurant visits in.  She thoroughly misses San Francisco (if anyone is willing to send her some Philz coffee beans, she will forever be delighted).