“Fashion fades, style is eternal,” said Yves Saint Laurent… and real style lies in the little things, says Sonali Kokra
￼From the pen you carry to the wallet in your pocket, it’s all in the details. and no it’s not about high sounding brand names
Yves Saint Laurent sure was on to something. Being well – dressed and looking sharp isn’t rocket science anymore, especially with the explosion of information on the must-dos, must-haves and never-ever-pair- togethers. All men can be equal, with all the sartorial help available on demand to those who care to seek it.
But even among the well-dressed, there are men who stand out, to be noticed and appreciated by the more discerning eye. They’re the men who are more equal, or rather, the first amongst equals. God really is in the details.Its all about expressing your individuality but in a subtle way.
It’s about leaving a mark but not in a way that makes people stare. And there’s more to men’s accessories than a gold wedding band though this is only for the experimental.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here are the finishing touches that will help you take a great outfit to the next level: personal and perfect.
There is simply no way to overstate the importance and appeal of a good watch. It is the single most important investment you can make for your wardrobe, and the good thing is that quality watches don’t ever really go out of fashion. The right watch has the potential to become a family heirloom or something that gets passed on.
Even if that’s not the goal, I’d strongly recommend investing in the best possible timepiece your money can buy. If you’re short on funds, buy one good watch instead of several different varieties. A cheap- looking watch is the easiest way to sabotage what could easily have been a great outfit. Besides, there is something about a man who flicks his wrist to check the time on a sturdy watch, instead of constantly looking down at the cellphone like a teenager! (Check Date Diary.)
WHERE THE MONEY’S AT
Picture this. It’s the end of a date. You dressed well, charmed her socks off with your wit and conversational skill. The meal’s over, the cheque’s arrived. You pick up the tab before she can. And then you take out a tacky looking wallet! You just undid all the good you did through the evening. Would you have ever imagined that your purse would be your undoing? But it could. It doesn’t even require too much thought. If you’re not into experimenting, just pick one up in plain black or brown leather.
For those looking to move away from the regular, opt fora crocodile leather one in a dark colour. Pro tip: No matter what wallet you’re using, never carry a wad of cash in it, bulking up the wallet and your pocket. No wallet can save you if your trouser pockets are sagging due to its weight! Just a few notes and plastic money, please! If you’re not into wallets, make sure you own a metal money clip. Digging into your pockets every time you need cash is seriously uncool. A money clip makes you look organised and classy.
Be style safe: Pick a black or brown wallet
TIE UP THE LOOSE ENDS
You can have many ties or you can have a few ties, just make sure that whatever you have, they’re not in a cheap rayon fabric, because even though it only plays peek-a-boo from under the jacket, a cheap tie can take down a really expensive suit or shirt.
Buy a couple of good ties instead of a bunch of cheap ones. Every man needs a navy blue tie, one that contrasts with the colour he’s partial to in shirts and one that stands out: polka-dotted, striped or checkered. Avoid very thick or very slim ties if you intend to use yours for a long time. A half-width tie bar is your best bet.
PICK THE CRAVAT
A throwback to the 17th century – when it was a piece of lace or soft fabric trimmed with lace worn by men around their necks – this little ‘piece of cloth’ translates to a touch of old world charm that the contemporary man of style may aspire to.
TIP: If keen to soften a conservative look as you see in this well cut arvind ensemble, play with the cravat and the pocket
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE
There’s something very old-worldly and charming about pocket squares. And it takes a very confident man to wear one without looking self-conscious. If you’re looking to get over your inhibitions about pocket squares, start small by wearing one that’s within the same colour family as your suit.A light blue for a navy jacket, a grey one for a charcoal suit… You get the drift.
Once your confidence builds, you may add variety. Try a polka- dotted one or one in a contrasting colour once you get comfortable with the look. An important thing to remember is to never go overboard with clashing colours. That’s a no-no. Keep your tie and pocket square in the same colour family.
A pocket square can add serious sophistication to a suit when done right but can look like a handkerchief peeking out of a pocket if it doesn’t complement the tie. These are the types of details you just cannot overlook.
LOCK, SOCK AND BARREL
Socks are a great place to let your love of quirk show. There’s something very cheeky about vibrant, fun socks peeking out from under what is otherwise a serious-looking outfit. The only rules are: they must never be smelly, holed or with stains. Even when you think they’re invisible, there will come a moment when you will forget there’s a hole and kick off your shoes and end up feeling massively embarrassed. And not just socks, nothing you EVER wear must be smelly.
LINK IT UP
They can say a lot about you without saying anything at all. Cufflinks are the perfect go-tos when you want to look formal but not so much that you put on a jacket.A well-fitted, pristine white shirt, a good tie and a pair of smart cufflinks can work wonders to add class and sophistication to your look. While intriguing designs will make you stand out, I would seriously discourage anyone from letting their love of superheroes or comic books manifest itself in the form of cufflinks. Cufflinks are for grown men, not boys.
Getting a monogram is daring but it can be very impressive when done right. A monogram instantly takes even the most staple items in a wardrobe and converts them into a personalised piece. The bad news is that there are so many ways to go horribly wrong, mostly because most men tend to get carried away with the idea. Keep a monogram simple, discreet and subtle. A small one with your initials or the name in tiny font on your collar or cuff is sophisticated. An elaborate design emblazoned across the pocket of your chest is guaranteed to make you the butt of some very snide jokes. You might think you can do it on your own but getting a designer to create one is a safer bet.
While bracelets aren’t exactly associated with men, they can make a strong statement when worn right. The trick is not to overwhelm your wrist with it. And for the love of God, stay away from bright metals like gold. Also, make sure you don’t wear one that is too thick, or it might end up looking like a woman’s cuff. My personal favourite is a slim black titanium band worn along with the watch or a black metal band. A leather thong or a string of beads in muted colours along with the watch also works very well. If you’re not sure whether you can work bracelets, don’t venture to the other side, stick to the wrist with the watch.
NO NEED TO SHOOT THIS MESSENGER (BAG)
Let’s get one thing clear, messenger bags are NOT purses. And they’re a hell of a lot more attractive than looking like a circus juggler, trying to balance your gadgets, files, notepad, keys, wallet, etc., etc. in your hands, pockets and under the arm. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a leather messenger bag in a colour and size that works for you so you can walk around confidently without leaving behind a trail of dropped items. Steer clear of cheap materials, though, as they can make you look like a college kid on a budget instead of a successful professional.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
There are no blanket dos and don’ts for glasses, except this one perhaps – avoid funky frames in bright colours unless you’re very, very sure that the occasion and the setting allows for them. What can look fun and adventurous for a few moments at the store may end up looking immature and cartoonish after the novelty value wears off. While different styles and frames work for different faces, I find that rimless and half-rimmed work for almost all face types and last the longest, style-wise.
Wood accents are the latest rugged trend in optics, highly recommended. Make sure you get one that fits snugly, not so loose that you’re constantly pushing them up your nose, but not so tight that they cut into the sides of your forehead either. Try several to get this just right.
All these rules hold true for sunglasses as well. If you’re looking to buy a pair you won’t have to replace for really, really long and will still look stylish, go no further than aviators. They’ve been sexy for forever, with no sign of them going out of fashion anytime soon. Great investment.
Try a hint of colour but don’t go overboard
TIGHTEN THE BELT
Like watches, shoes and wallets, good quality leather belts can last a really long time, so there’s your incentive for investing in a couple of good pairs instead of a dozen interchangeable ones. Every man should own at least two belts. A slim one in black or brown tan leather for trousers and a thicker one for denims. Unless there’s a very good reason you’re opting for a bulky, novelty buckle, I suggest that you keep it fuss-free with a simple metal one. Large bulky buckles can draw the eye towards your mid-section and one might be forgiven for wondering why you insist on drawing someone’s gaze towards your crotch!
NO HANKY PANKY
Not so long ago, all good boys were taught to always, always carry a fresh handkerchief when they step out. This was the mark of a gentleman. Today, while not many men follow the rule, etiquette still demands that the well-groomed man always carry a freshly laundered and perfectly folded kerchief in his pocket. Pristine white with small stripes, reflecting the colour of one’s ensemble is fine or just plain white will do too. This is where a subtle monogram works very well – especially when gallantry demands you whip it out to present it to a lady in distress!