With the last of the basic suit articles done and dusted I thought we should just go over a few of the accessories that can go with the new suits that you have just acquired. Now there’s nothing wrong with heading out to the office or restaurant in your grey, navy, black or plaid suit with your shirt and shoes of choice. In fact, in the right circumstances a truly stripped down, understated suit and shirt combination can look extremely modern, stylish and practical. But outside of a relaxed date or maybe informal work outing, those instances are few and far between.
So what are the options available for you then? Well, aside from the obvious arrangement of ties, there are plenty of accessories you can add to a suit to either dress it up/down or express your own sense of style and personality. The important thing is knowing when and where to wear them and the basic rules to follow.
The easiest male accessory to add to a suit and by far the most quintessential item of men’s fashion today. With a tie the important thing to remember is the width of your suit’s lapels. If you’re wearing a Tom Ford-esque peak lapel you want to have a tie that is going to reflect the grand and 80’s inspired nature of the suit. Likewise for all you guys that enjoy wearing Top Man suits, a skinny tie will be the perfect complement to it.
Also remember what kind of shirt you’re wearing. If the shirt is patterned or colourful keep the tie dark and solid and the same goes vice versa. For ideas on what shirt and tie combinations to wear have a look at this GQ article for some great formal and casual options.
The great thing about the ties found in the link above (or just ties in general) is they allow you to bring shots of colour, pattern and personality into an otherwise conservative suit OR allow you to anchor a strong striped/plaid/coloured one. And they move from the office to the evening without any problems. But consider loosening that knot and top button when you do.
Hats & Shoes
The reason I’ve put both these items under the same heading is for one simple reason. They both are influenced by the material of the suit you’re wearing. And this is ultimately decided upon the weather outside and dressing seasonally. So if the weather outside really is frightful then I’m hoping you’d be wearing a wool or tweed blend when outside. When it comes to a heavy suit like that, a heavier type of shoe is required. So I’m talking Brogues, Oxfords or Military boots all with thick, heavy and even lug soles. The same applies to your head gear; that straw trilby you’ve still got from the summer festivals just will not cut it. Instead, go for a trilby in a thick felt in a dark neutral colour to compliment the suit, or maybe even a tweed drivers cap. With a lot of modern slim suits that are out there you can even wear a slouch beanie with them.
Obviously the same goes for the summer months. Once the wool and tweed have been retired and replaced with cotton and linen do the same with your shoes and headgear. Boat shoes, lighter leather and canvas desert boots are all available to buy at the moment and really do work when paired with a suit. Similarly, straw or canvas trilby’s and driver caps will help you remain shaded but still stylish.
Pocket Squares & Tie Bars
It’s the details that make the gentleman as you all know and when it comes to your suit what better way to make it truly unique (in other words your own) than by adding accessories to it. Now I could go into great length about obscure pieces such as pocket watches, cravats and collar pins but they are hard to come across and difficult to pull off without seeming pretentious. Instead, I’ll cover the two most readily available and widely used accessories for the suits you have.
The first is the pocket square (or handkerchief if you like). It’s been gaining popularity through the rise of such TV programmes as Mad Men and designers like Tom Ford, Simon Spurr and Scott Sternberg backing them and it really is a great way to add a pop of colour into your outfit. The simplest way to pulling them off is by picking up the white cotton ones that can be found in anywhere from Burton to Paul Smith, folding it into a square and putting it in your breast pocket. I find this works best with any dark coloured suit and white shirt/black tie combination.
But you can do so much more. Why not have it match the colour of the tie you’re wearing? Or even reach for some of the great gingham print ones that are out there and use it to add a pattern as well as colour into the suit? My personal favourite at the moment are the plaid varieties that can be found in dark earthy tones. When paired with a navy coloured suit this can look really cool regardless of the shirt or tie. Have a go and see what you think.
A tie bar first and foremost is functional. It allows you to clip part of your tie to your shirt so that when you do bend down to reach for things or are walking in a strong wind it doesn’t end up in your face. The fact it can be a great little detail and stylish item is a bonus. The width of your tie will determine the size of you tie bar. The colour of the tie bar may also determine the kind of colour suit you’d wear it with. But ultimately the tie bar should be worn with confidence… and always with your tie.
So that’s about it guys. Hopefully there are a few ideas there for you so you can go out start thinking about how you want to start bringing your suit to life. Just remember as always, the jacket and trousers do separate. If you like one item in particular then wear the hell out of it, might as well get value for your money right? And lastly, my 101 rule for dressing down a suit so that you can wear it where ever you go this – loosen the tie & top button, lose the belt and wear a darker shirt.