Knowing how to dress for an occasion is an essential skill every man must learn. Unfortunately, so many guys fall into the trap of dressing to impress without matching their accessories to their outfits.
It's a fact: if you're wearing a field watch with a tuxedo, you're not dressed well. Plain and simple.
As ever, it's my job to keep you guys looking sharp. So in today's article, I'm breaking out some must-own men's accessories for black tie, casual weekends, and everything in between.
We'll be covering:
- Black Tie Accessories
- Business-Formal Accessories
- Business-Casual Accessories
- Casual Accessories
- BONUS: Accessories For All Occasions
#1 Black Tie Accessories
Black tie events are more formal than formal, so you've got to bring your A-game to accessorize your tux.
Bright color, shiny metal, and stand-out patterns won't cut it when an event calls for elegant and classic menswear. If you don't know, the term ‘black tie' was coined in Britain at the end of the 19th Century to describe the most formal clothing a man can wear without putting on a top hat and tails.
You need to carefully consider your choice of accessories when dealing with this level of formality. One wrong move, and you'll ruin your formal style.
For black-tie events, you can't go wrong with the following accessories:
- Black Leather Dress Watch: Put away your chronograph; it's no good here. Black-tie events call for what we call a ‘dress watch.' In short, a watch with a black leather strap, a VERY minimal casing of silver or gold, and a plain white watch face.
- Silver Or Gold Cufflinks: Black-tie usually calls for a french cuff shirt. As such, cufflinks are an essential part of a black-tie wardrobe. Opt for either plain silver or gold or a gemstone cufflink. Either is okay – just don't use those Superman cufflinks you got for father's day!
- A Black Bow Tie: The literal definition of ‘black tie.' A black bow tie is an essential part of a man's formal wardrobe – no other style should be worn with a dinner jacket or full tuxedo! Wear a plain black bowtie with a wing-collar dress shirt – it's a timeless formal combo that will never go out of style.
This article is sponsored by Harry's – creators of high-quality, long-lasting men's razor blades and durable weighted handles. They make a close, comfortable shave quick and enjoyable.
Harry's insists that you shouldn't have to choose between a great shave and a fair price, so they give you both. It's an easy decision – after all, refill blades start as low as 2 bucks!
What's better? New Harry's customers get their Starter Set – which includes a five-blade razor, weighted handle, foaming shave gel with aloe, and a travel cover – for just $3!
Click here and head over to Harry's to get their Starter Set for just $3. 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
#2 Business Formal Accessories
With black tie out of the way, let's take things down a bit and look at the fashionable men's accessories you can pull off in the office.
‘Business Formal' is a pretty self-explanatory term – it defines workwear that is formal in appearance and professional in its message. Guys who work in big city offices will know exactly what I mean – think Don Draper or Harvey Specter.
Compared to black tie, business formal is far more forgiving when it comes to men's accessories. While traditional business attire still restricts your choice of fashionable men's accessories, there's undoubtedly more choice for things like watch styles and tie designs.
For the most part, the previously mentioned black-tie accessories can also work for business formal. However, when wearing a black bowtie, this can come across as too ‘dressy' for an office environment.
To achieve peak business formal style, try out these accessories:
- Dive/Chronograph Timepiece: Both watch styles are acceptable in traditional business environments. I encourage every man to purchase a great-looking Dive watch AND Chronograph to wear to work. It shows good taste, style and can often be a sign of success (after all, Rolex doesn't make cheap watches!)
- Patterned Neckties: When dressing in a suit, it's easy to look plain and unexciting. In a business-formal setting, there's no reason you can't add some vibrancy to your outfit with a bright, patterned necktie. Be it stripes, polka dots, or paisley, you can make one heck of a statement with a carefully styled statement tie.
- Patterned Pocket Squares: Similar to the patterned necktie, a patterned pocket square is all about making a statement. Some guys match their pocket square to their tie; some use it to contrast their tie. Either way, a patterned pocket square says, ‘Yes, I'm a professional, but I'm also a man of great taste.'
- Precious Metal Tie Clip: Nothing says timeless style like a tie clip made from silver, gold, or platinum. Like how women wear diamonds on their rings, ears, and necklaces, a man can splash out on a bit of bling by purchasing a luxury tie pin. It adds the perfect ‘final touch' to an outfit and will set you apart from the pack.
#3 Business Casual Accessories
Business casual (or smart casual) is becoming more and more popular in today's workplace. In many cities, wearing a formal suit and tie to work can make you look out of place in an office where slacks and sports jackets reign supreme.
Business casual is a godsend for those who want to wear different fashionable men's accessories to work. It's arguably the most versatile formality level on this list, as you can take elements from both ends of the formality spectrum and still look well put together.
All of the accessories mentioned above can be worn as part of a business casual outfit! That's right, even the bow tie – just make sure to pick a funky pattern and bright color to make it more of a statement piece.
Those looking to accessorize their business casual outfits should consider investing in the following items:
- Nato Watch Straps: The perfect way to reduce the formality of a chronograph/dive watch. If possible, swap your professional timepiece's metal or leather strap with a fabric Nato strap. It's a great way to inject a bit of casual charm into an otherwise formal watch style. Nato straps come in all sorts of colors and cost only a few dollars, so why not buy a different one for every day of the week?
- Patterned, Short Sleeve Shirts: A statement shirt can be a perfect addition to any man's business casual wardrobe. In an office environment where ties aren't the norm, creating an impact with a short-sleeve patterned shirt is a great way to show your individuality while still suiting up. Wear with chinos and a blazer for a more casual office look, or even a full suit and sneakers. The choice is yours!
- White Dress Sneakers: The best thing about business casual is the ability to wear sneakers to work – talk about comfort! However, you can't just wear any sneakers with your workwear. Opt for leather, minimalist dress sneakers at the office – preferably white without big logos or patterns.
#4 Casual Accessories
Finally, we have your everyday accessories – the ones you'd wear at the weekend or when taking your kids to the park. Nothing too expensive and no stand-out pieces; casual accessories are all about being laid back and dressed down.
The biggest benefit of a casual dress code is the lack of expectation from others. While this doesn't mean you should just throw caution to the wind and wear sweatpants, it does mean that most casual clothing items and fashionable men's accessories are fair game.
- Field Watch: The field watch is a timeless accessory that men have worn for years. They're rugged in appearance and often feature a fabric/Nato strap. These watches aren't about being flashy or high-class; they're about the practicalities of everyday life. Originally used during WW1, field watches are designed to tell the time and survive the trenches – nothing more, nothing less.
- Digital Watch: Like the field watch, digital watches are a great option for guys who enjoy the outdoors but need a watch that will last. Casio and G-Shock manufacture versatile and hard-wearing digital timepieces for the outgoing man. They don't look great, but you can be confident they will withstand anything your kids can throw at you … literally!
- Bracelets: Realistically, you can only wear braces when dressing in casual clothes. They don't suit the work environment and look out of place with a suit. However, there's no reason you can't pull off a leather bracelet at the weekend! With bracelets, I always think less is more. A classy woven leather bracelet looks far better than one that resembles the belt around your waist.
#5 Bonus: Accessories For Any Occasions
There are some accessories that a man just can't live without – regardless of formality and lifestyle.
Not all of these items are worn on the body, but they all play a significant role in preparing a man for his day and keeping his A1 style up to scratch. I like to call these the unsung heroes of men's style – they work behind the scenes to create a solid foundation for any man's stylish wardrobe.
No man can be stylish without owning:
- Quality Hair Products: Every hairstyle needs some kind of product to keep it looking clean and well presented. Men have been using products in their hair for hundreds of years, and in the 21st Century, we've got more choices than ever before. Check out my guide on hair products to discover which is best for you.
- A Reliable Shaving Razor: Whether you opt for a multi-blade cartridge razor or the ol' reliable safety razor, every man on the planet needs to invest in a quality razor for shaving his face. To present yourself as well put together and styled, shaving every few days is essential to maintain either a clean-shaven look or a well-groomed beard.
- Natural Skincare Products: To maintain a handsome and breakout-free complexion, every man must create a consistent skincare routine of natural skincare products. Why natural? Simple – it's all about avoiding harmful chemicals and fragrance agents. To look younger for longer, find a quality skincare brand that suits your skin's needs, and stick with it! When it comes to skincare – consistency is key!
So you've started to figure out the difference between formal and informal fashionable men's accessories – but there's always more to learn. Click here to discover my list of formal and casual men's leather shoes.