Style + Ask The Edit

The Sharper Staffer: It's the Little Things

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing the basics of men’s fashion: buying shoes, proper tailoring, etc.  So today, I thought we might shift gears a little bit and talk about what men, who already have the basics covered, can do to bring some added style to their look.  And sometimes, it’s the little things that count the most.   

The Money Clip. Nothing ruins the line of a perfectly cut suit like a giant ass tumor.  So put your Castanza wallet away and start stowing your essentials in a slim, sophisticated money clip. Your rear end will thank you.

Cufflinks.  Last week’s tutorial on tailoring mentioned that a man’s shirt sleeves should hang just slightly longer than the sleeves of his suit jacket.  This makes a chic pair of cufflinks an essential piece in any man’s wardrobe. Plus, I think cufflinks are really dashing.  They just finish off an outfit with a flourish, and it’s a great way to express your personality in the staid world of business attire.

Tie Bars and Tacks.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when men wear ties without a tie bar or a tie tack.  First off, their utilitarian because they keep your tie from flopping into your food or drink.  And secondly, they provide an opportunity to mix a little Rat Pack chic into your ensemble.

Pocket Squares.  I’ve mentioned the love I hold for these tiny silk handkerchiefs before, but let me say it again.  Pocket squares really lift an outfit.  Your basic navy suit makes you just another staffer in a boring blue blazer.  But add a pocket square in a tie-coordinated color, and you become as close to GQ as any Hill denizen can be. 

If the colors scare you, a basic white or grey pocket square is less intimidating and still suave.  And to add even more swank to your suit, Sam Hober offers a myriad of creative ways to fold your pocket square. 

On a financial note, I think the best place to buy stylish accessories for men is Etsy.  The online shopping site has a great selection of vintage pieces at really low prices.  Plus, if I ever asked a man where he got his tie bar, and he responded with, “It’s vintage,” I’d probably go week in the knees.  (Just something to think about.)

So if you have the basics covered, these little extras are a great way to boost your look and take your suit from boring to breathtaking.  ZZ Top wasn’t lying, every girl is crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.



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  1. Emil says:

    I have a money clip (engraved and given to me by a very dear ex) that I carry with me at all times, but I get the most use out of my J.Crew magic wallet. It's slim, it's easy, it carries credit cards and cash and it's a cheaper alternative to a decent (read: sterling silver) money clip.

    I usually buy them whenever I see the leather models at the Crew and give them away to friends who've developed the Costanza bulge with receipts going back to 2000. Best cheap gift ever.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  2. S says:

    For some reason I associate cuff links with sleeze. Maybe cause I HATE the guy in our office who wears them. They may elevate your look, but they can also make you come off as pretentious IMO.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  3. Ash says:

    I don't often disagree with you Belle, but I feel it necessary to do so here. I think french cuffs and a pocket square on a staffer look like you're trying too hard. I think french cuff shirts, along with pocket squares, are much more fitting on a Member or an older gentleman, but on a young staffer it looks like you are borrowing your dads shirt. I can see how this is an upgrade from not trying at all, but lets not get crazy. I think all you need is a really well fitting suit, think Brooks Brothers, and you'll come across professional and age appropriate, not dated and stuffy.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  4. District Cut says:

    Great tips! I don't think cuff links are associated with sleeziness at all. I would suggest a more simple pair, though. A simple sterling silver pair would be perfect. Same goes for the money clip. Sometimes less is more.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    Ash- The point is well taken on the pocket square, for some offices that might qualify as trying too hard if the Boss dresses more casually. But the cufflinks and tie bar aren't over the top. So maybe save the pocket square for after work.

    As for cufflinks being associated with sleeze, I don't know about that. Though I do agree that a unlikable person can ruin a fashion trend for some people. My brother has an ex-girlfriend that I DESPISE (I mean, I'd like to have her air freighted to a deserted island, hatred) and she always wore headbands, so I CAN NEVER wear a headband or see a headband without feeling like I can need a shower.

    D. Cut- I think a plain pair would be nice too. I chose the mercury dimes because my Great Grandma left my Mom a set of dimes and I have an emotional attachment to them.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  6. garethforshort says:

    I think in a contemporary context tie bars generally work better with narrow ties. Pairing them with standard width or wider ties looks too early 90s. As much as I enjoyed Boyz II Men and their style in 1992, I don't want to look like them now. And I would never advocate for a tie tack. I can't fathom investing in a nice tie only to poke a hole in it.

    I agree about ditching the large wallet in the back pocket look. However unlike women, we don't have purses in which to stash our things. Everything has to go in a pocket somewhere. And so if you simply must carry too much to fit reasonably in a money clip, then there are alternatives such as a smaller front pocket wallet or the magic wallet suggested above. Also, if you're wearing a suit you should be carrying your wallet in your inside breast pocket anyway. So unless your suit is spandex tight it shouldn't mess with the lines too much.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  7. prosecutordc says:

    I don't think I saw an members wearing pocket squares at the state of the union. Maybe I missed it. It seems a bit too yuppie to me. There is professional and then there is over the top. I think a guy in his mid twenties to early thirties wearing a pocket square would come across as trying to hard/overly yuppie/cheesy. I do like cufflinks however.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  8. ehh ... says:

    Tie ornaments are great for septuagenarian Veterans who wear matching hats at parades and such, but that's about it. And there's an ironclad rule for pocket squares: they're only for the committed; if you wear it once, you gotta wear it every day, otherwise you're trying too hard one day and not trying the next. Cuff links are always worth the extra effort, but only with spread collared shirts.

    January 27, 2011/Reply
  9. Belle says:

    I've never heard such a large group of people with such a wide variety of judgements built off the same accessories. No wonder men don't get dressed up. I'd never stray from navy suit/red tie if everyone was this critical of my adornments.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  10. Lauren says:

    Belle can you provide a link to the cufflinks? My boyfriend is an avid coin collector and those would be the perfect addition to a birthday present.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  11. Belle says:

    They're David Donahue available at Nordstrom.

    If those are too pricey, these ones are nice too.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  12. Rory says:

    I love a man in a suit! Personally, I'd love to see a hat with this, too. I love hats (NOT baseball caps) on men.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  13. Katy says:

    I am a real fan of Belle's post.

    These are all great suggestions that can't warrant complaint because their only catch is that you need to be aware of when/how to wear them.

    Pocket squares, I think, add a look of both sophistication and pizazz. Wearing them doesn't mean you need to go whole-hog with a pinstripe suit and a wild color tie + matching pocket square like Charlie Rangel to fit in. A simple, sleek, silver or grey pocket square can look great with a subtle textured tie.

    Cuff-links are universally applicable, simply because they come in so many variations. If you're not feeling so hot about the ones Belle posted, you can try a simple black stone or sterling silver. My boyfriend gets away with wearing all types of cufflinks because, when asked, he says there's a story behind each one. It's true: set A he got from me, set B was given to him by a Chinese diplomat, set C was inherited from his dad, etc.

    Just remember that cufflinks and pocket-squares (the latter more than the former) denote a tad bit of casualness that, while appropriate and snazzy for the workplace, can be upgraded for evening affairs.

    If I were a man, I know I'd use each one of these accessories to my advantage to stand out to the crowd. Contrary to popular belief, being ill-fuiting-suit-clad-man #502 on the metro does nothing to help you stand out to women.

    In any case, though, if men don't want to accessorize, they can at least update their current wardrobes. This goes back to Belle's point of a suit THAT FITS. I would also like to point out another huge pet peeve of mine and that is shoes. Some polished, pointed shoes complement a suit perfectly, whereas boxy, extremely round-toed, dull, scratched, etc. shoes look terrible.
    Personally, I look to Santoni as the brand-symbol of men's shoe perfection.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  14. Ashley says:

    I work for a state legislator and there is a guy in my office that always wears pockets squares even though the member does not. It works. I look at it this way – we are reflections of our boss. And like it or not, human nature is to judge based on appearance. Therefore, if I can help my member by looking good, then so be it.

    January 28, 2011/Reply
  15. K says:

    These things all seem over-the-top and old fashioned to me.

    January 28, 2011/Reply