Accessories Can Spice up Your Sartorial Game

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It seems like girls have all the fun when it comes to accessorizing.  They get necklaces, earrings, piercings, belts, and bracelets.  Most guys are still under the impression that you don’t get to add personality when you get to dress up.  However, I’m here to tell you that this mindset is wrong.  Menswear has a few functional accessories that are definitely able to be used to step up your suit game.  In this article, we’re going to look at some of my picks as my favourite types of menswear accessories.

Before you start packing on the items in this post, it’s important to note that  you don’t need to over accessorize. Don’t just pick things that are on trend, pick things that appeal to you aesthetically and are apart of your character.  Many of the guys here are not beginners; some prefer a minimal look while others prefer to stack on as many as they want.  It appeals to their personalities and for them, its completely natural. I suggest starting with a few simple onesand as you delve deeper into menswear, start adding interesting items that work!   Let’s dive right in with my favourite items and some outfit inspiration on how to rock them.

Shirts, Neckties, and Pocket Squares

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Complementary colors with three different patterns that spice up a solid suit.

Who’s it for:  Everyone (come on now)

This subject warrants its own blog post, but I’ll get into it in due time. Shirts, ties, and pocket squares don’t have to be plain! They can have a variety of patterns, textures, and fabrics.  Mix and match as needed!  When done correctly, they show a true mastery over dressing well.  I’ll upload a guide to this in the future, I promise!

The Tie Bar

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Who’s it for: Guys who are just getting into accessorizing

The tie bar (or clip) is almost like the staple for all guys everywhere.  Available in gold or silver colors, a tie bar is completely functional by holding your tie down and adds some “bling” to your outfit.  Just make sure you follow the correct way of wearing it:  make sure it’s near the midsection, that it isn’t too wide or too small (relative to your tie), and that you fasten it to your shirt placket.  Many guys forget all these rules and end up doing it wrong.  When it looks wrong, you look like you put on the tie bar because you want to hop on the trend rather than wearing it because you like it.

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Now you don’t have to always have to do the typical “straight bar”; there are plenty of options available if you want to get creative with your tie bar.  Rajesh and Spencer are a huge fan of unique tie bars, ranging from anchors to drama masks.  While many companies manufacture cool designs, I always suggest going vintage.  A variety of fun tie bars have existed since the 1930’s and having a cool design with some history is always a big recommendation from me. Here’s some of my favourites that we’ve featured in the past!

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Red Lobster anyone?

 

The Tie Pin

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Who’s it for:  Gentleman who want to appear elegant and rakish

Similar to the tie bar, the tie pin is also used to hold your tie in place.  However, this piece is much more rakish and is usually jeweled and has some sort of ornate design.  Due to these factors, the tie pin is used mostly for decoration rather than function.  Most people don’t pick the tie pin because it actually pierces your tie.  Don’t fret; an good iron will make the hole invisible.  Rajesh has one and it’s a family heirloom.  J.C De Luna also frequents his tie pins often and works with his style of combining different eras in vintage.  In any case, the tie pin is certainly different and will help you stand out, if needed.

Bracelets and Rings 

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Who’s it for:  Guys who want to add a more personality on their body

Man Jewelry?  Why not?  If you like wearing these items, then there’s nothing wrong with incorporating them into your personal style.  A suit shouldn’t be seen as a corporate or formal uniform; just like any other pieces of your wardrobe, a suit can be worn to express yourself.  In the image above, Rajesh wears a golf bracelet, an anchor bracelet, and his vintage watch.  I’d personally suggest using different hands so not make your wrist so cluttery, but to each his own!

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J.C De Luna (The Barrio Dandy) does this look well. Whether its true vintage items or ones he hand crafts himself, he wears his pieces with his suits. People might be turned off by the fact that he’s mixing something seen as more “street” with something formal, but we here at Street x Sprezza stand by the Barrio Dandy.  If it’s a part of your heritage, creativity, or personal style, wear what you like!  Just make sure all the pieces work together.  J. C has a mastery of style and knows that a great fit and silhouette are essential to making sure you can pull off certain items.  If he was in something ill-fitting, it would not have the same effect.

The Hat

A hat is still functional since it gives you some shade in exchange for messing up your hair.  There are plenty of hats available to be worn with a suit, the most common of which are the fedora, the panama, the ballcap, and the newsboy cap.  Again, the subject of headwear should be its own blog post, but I just made a short snapshot here with some inspiration!

Fedora

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Who’s it for:  The classic gentleman who yearns for the past.

Fedoras have been with us since the early 1920’s and have changed in shape many times over the years.  I believe that the key to a fedora is the brim: it should be medium width  (2” minimum) in order to separate it from the trillbys of the neckbeards.   Personally, I prefer to wear mine with true vintage clothing to a period accurate outfit.   Similarly, I suggest pairing your fedora with a classic suit to make a classic look.  Anything too skinny will look like you’re trying to be #menswear; classic fit and proportions are key if you want to don this staple of the Golden Era of Men’s Fashion.

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The Panama Hat

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Who’s it for:  The gentleman who wants fedora vibes but lives in warm weather

The Panama hat can also be used as a warm weather alternative to the fedora. They’re pretty similar in terms of shape.  You can check out my older article for more info and background.    Since they are more casual, you can wear these guys with a more dressed down outfits. Alternatively, you can wear them with dressed up outfits for some cooler vibes!

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The Cap

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Who’s it for:  Ivy enthusiasts, varsity players, normcore fans

The ball cap isn’t for tees anymore! A simple 5 or 6 panel cap with a minimal logo (like a team or print) can also look killer with a suit or blazer.  It reminds me of college students back in the old days!  If you wear one because of school, a sport, or because you’re into normcore, try combining it with your suits. It does a fantastic job of dressing down something formal into something comfortable.
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The Newsboy Cap

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Who’s it for:  The gentleman who wants that extra vintage look.

A nice flat or newsboy cap can also be used with your more formal looks. Like the fedora, it gives off some vintage vibes, so keep that in mind when crafting your outfit. Personally, I can’t see people wearing this item without dressing up for it.  The hats mentioned previously stated here can definitely be dressed down but the newsboy cap simply calls for classic menswear.  Monsivais Caps is the goto brand if you want Made-to-order caps with actual vintage fabrics!  They even even have summer weight ones!

 

The Belt

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Who’s it for:  The man who wants to accessorize how he holds up his pants

Belts don’t always have to be plain; there is opportunity here for some subtle personality!  There are always alternatives to black or brown leather.  You could go with suede from some texture or you could go full prep and try a ribbon belt (as seen above)!  The best thing about a ribbon belt is that it allows for some extra adjustment.  You can definitely experiment with the different aspects of the belt, like color, fabric, or even belt buckle.  Rajesh’s favourite piece is an aztec print one that we found at a local goodwill.

Suspenders 

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Who’s it for: Guys who want true pant drape and more room in the waist

Suspenders (or more accurately braces) aren’t really accessories.  Just like belts, they serve to simply hold our pants up!  Unlike belts, they don’t constrict the waist and allow the pants to simply drape down; it is for this reason that I prefer to wear suspenders.  This subject warrants its own article, but thanks to the patterns on the strap and fabrics of the fastening part, you can definitely add some cool personality.  There a multitude of patterns available for the elastic, as well as either fabric or leather to be used as the fastener.

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Silk suspenders with a fun print.

There is a “rule” that suspenders are technically underwear and shouldn’t be worn by themselves. I personally adhere to this statement, but who said that you can’t look cool when you decide to take off the jacket?

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Now suspenders are a bit dandy since no one really wears them anymore.  Personally, I don’t like clip suspenders since that takes them into “useless accessory” territory.  If you want to rock suspenders, I say get a nice pair that utilizes buttons and install these buttons on your pants!  Say good bye to belts!

The Collar Bar

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Who’s it for:  Rakish gents who exude a classy 1930 or ivy-trad style.

The collar bar is my favorite accessory because it is still one of the rare items that you’ll see.  Most guys will stop at the tie bar, but I always like to add this extra touch of expression.   In terms of functionality, it is most similar to the tie pin; a collar bar simply pushes together your shirt collar to make a more pronounced shape and to make your tie have an arch as opposed to draping straight down.  The collar bar is pretty rakish (though not as much as the tie pin) and is my preferred accessory out of the others mentioned.

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This was widely used in the 1920s-1940s, first with club collar shirts and later with spearpoint collars.   The only way to make sure you can wear this piece is that your collar is large enough.  Many modern shirts lack significant length in their collar, which will not work with the collar bar (since the bar will not be able to attach to the collars).

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Note the rounded collar of the shirt.  The collar is close together which works with a tie bar.

Want to go even further?  You can wear your collar bar with a button-down collar shirt or combine it with a tie bar.  Yes, I realize that the former has buttons already, but wear the bar without fastening the collar down.  This practice is favored by many ivy-trad dressers and has seen resurgence in Ralph Lauren advertisements. Heck even style-god Fred Astaire did it. It is a bit redundant and is the mark of personal style rather than function, a balance that is up to you to find!

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Collar bar and tie bar in action together.

Where to get them

You’re probably wondering “great, I like these items and now I have to spend a lot of money on accessories”.  You’re wrong about that!  As always, I always suggest checking thrift stores, antique malls, or eBay to find some cool stuff.  Remember, buying vintage is always better than buying new; I’d only suggest buying new if you have a specific vision for your accessories and you’ve found a brand that can supply it for you.  But if you want a cool tie bar, don’t go to J. Crew or Banana republic; just go peruse listings on eBay and get a quality piece!  Alternatively, check out dedicated vintage stores. They are definitely more expensive than the other places, but at least you know that it is a curated and true vintage item.

Your Vibes and Pulling Them Off

Yes its true, each of these pieces has their own vibes that they give off thanks to social cues and expectations.  For example, it’s hard to rock a fedora now without being called a neckbeard, regardless of the size of brim.  It will take a long time for people to come around to these new ideas, but that shouldn’t matter to you.  Sprezzatura is all about expressing yourself through what you like and wearing it with nonchalance; what others think or perceive doesn’t matter.  As long as everything else fits and is “dressed intentionally” (borrowing a phrase from Tanner Guzy), you can pull off anything you want.  The items listed here are certainly not the only accessories available to men and are simply the ones that I prefer and have seen done well.

Let me know by commenting below on which ones are your favourites, which ones you wear yourself, and how you like to wear your own!

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Ethan W., Vince H., Gabrielle U. 

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