As any man who advocates dressing well will know, accessories – when used correctly – are often the difference between a good look and a great look.
When the weather worsens, accessories also serve a practical function as well as their role in style, although it’s imperative the latter is never left out in the cold.
Below we’ve drawn up our definitive list of the five essential accessories – ranging from the practical to the stylish and everything between – which we think are the must-haves of the coming season. So without further delay let’s jump straight in with number one.
1) The Full Sized Umbrella
Stay dry, look good and channel Gene Kelly with this perfect gentleman’s accessory. The umbrella serves a purpose not only in the rain but also once the heavens have closed. A well-chosen piece gives off a real man about town vibe effortlessly when held at your side.
The traditional gentleman’s umbrella looks best when your outfit is of the tailored variety and finishes off a full sartorial effort with aplomb. A plain black, wooden curved handled umbrella is a truly timeless men’s accessory and will serve you through this season and for many winters to come.
How to Wear
As mentioned above a full-sized umbrella is right at home in a tailored look. A grey wool suit is perfect for winter and works great with this seasons tactile trends. Underneath you can utilise a simple white shirt and pair with a tweed tie, the texture of the tie is essential to play off the wool suit; a silk sort would look a little out of place.
Round off with some tan vibram sole brogues, a pocket square and of course your classic black full-size umbrella. Alternatively, you could opt for a gingham check shirt in place of a white one to breathe some colour into the grey of the suit.
2) The Briefcase
It was a close toss-up between the briefcase and his nearest cousin, the document holder. The briefcase just edged it due its versatility above what many men perceive as the male ‘clutch’. First off, banish all negative thoughts of chunky box briefcases (and Will from the Inbetweeners) and let’s proceed.
This season, the briefcase has been slimmed down enough so that, if you so desire, you can clutch it under your arm or carry it via the handles. The lack of a cross-body strap means unsightly creases no longer plight your carefully crafted looks and nothing says, “I mean business” like a quality briefcase.
The briefcase can be carried off successfully in a variety of ways. From preppy collegiate to model professional. Jeans or suit trousers, a blazer or varsity jacket; the briefcase shouldn’t be underestimated as a jack-of-all-trades man-bag.
How to Wear
For our example outfit, we’re going to err on the side of preppy. A dark blue double-breasted blazer layered over a burgundy fine-knit roll neck and beige chinos pull together a classic complimentary colour combination. Loafers and burgundy socks add to the preppy feel and the chocolate brown briefcase is the perfect colour as to not offset the rest of the chosen hues.
3) Leather Gloves
Taking up the number three spot on our list is leather gloves. Another gentry’s classic, this accessory works great with current trends as well as with classic timeless looks. Leather gloves, by nature, also prove more durable than a knitted equivalent. A coloured pair will serve as a great statement piece if you’re looking for something different and a bit of individuality.
Leather gloves can occasionally throw up a slight conundrum when other leather pieces such as belts and shoes are worn. It’s not vital that you match your gloves to your shoes and even less so to your belt. In fact, they can break up your outfit and take away the uniformity if they aren’t of the same hue.
How to Wear
Leather gloves are perfect professional ‘go-tos’ but can also be used in a more playful setting. Following on from this week’s MAN series on winter colour, the look below shows how versatile leather gloves can be by placing them in a brighter situation.
A coloured peacoat is a two-for-one deal – it cashes in on two big trends this season. Layer a white shirt and red crew knit underneath and compliment the colours already present with a pair of wardrobe-essential navy trousers. Sand coloured desert boots finish it all off – choose a pair in suede for a stand out tactile.
4) Winter Ties
As this season’s materials turn to the thicker and more textured, it is vital your ties don’t get left behind. Wool, tweed and knitted neckwear have enough texture and thickness to keep up with the rest of your winter wardrobe.
Plaid ties recently made Matt Allinson’s top ten list, and for good cause too. Plaid, check and tartan work best on a textured tie. Knitted ties are also up to the task of holding up a tweed or wool suit.
How to Wear
A plaid tie can be utilised to great effect in both the office and in a casual setting. The look below shows just how to create an outfit straddling the smart-casual barrier.
A check shirt is the definition of the smart casual oxymoron and made a brief appearance in Will’s article on styling the style overloads. A red and white shirt paired with a grey plaid tie; the pattern is sparse and subtle enough as so to not look to busy. Tuck the shirt into a pair of beige chinos and don a navy V-neck over the top.
Depending on your preference some hiking boots or brogues are more than adequate for footwear; a gilet could easily be thrown on top for a little more casual and that extra layer to stave off the chill.
5) The Patterned Scarf
Last, but by no means least, is number five and the patterned scarf. By patterned I mean anything other than block colour. Be it trusty Fair Isle, jacquard checks, dots or even blocked stripes – all will suffice to brighten up any neutral overcoat.
There are a number of ways to pull off a patterned scarf. Firstly, familiarise yourself with the different knots with Matt’s basics guide to scarves.
The easiest way is to drape the scarf around your neck and let it hang loose. This places the scarf as the focal point and works exceptionally well with silk blend scarves as they play off the heavier material of the overcoat.
Alternatively, you could use the scarf in a more practical fashion to keep out the cold by opting for your knot of choice.
How to Wear
For outfit inspiration we’ve gone for a standout burgundy and black leopard print scarf. Drape the scarf nonchalantly under the lapels of this grey double-breasted overcoat; leave the bottom button undone, naturally.
Underneath, pair a crisp white shirt with a navy polka-dot bowtie for a bit of urban dandy ilk. Finally, keep it simple down below with some navy suit trousers and tan shoes. Leather gloves and a full-size umbrella would be the perfect compliments to really finish off this look – no wonder they made our list!
So there it is. Our go to guide for autumn/winter essentiality. All five are great investment pieces as they will never be seen as unstylish. From one to five, they will all serve you well for years if bought wisely. What we want to know is…
- Do you own any of the above? If so which?
- Are there any you’d like to add to the list?
- Or are there any you’d like to see taken away?
Let us know in the comments below.