You might not find yourself needing to wear a suit as much these days, but when the time comes to don your favourite tailored getup, it pays to know what to wear with it.
Tie clips, lapel pins, cuff links, suspenders… there are myriad accessories you can choose from, but knowing when they’re appropriate and which ones to invest in makes things harder than you might first imagine.
From selecting the right watch to finding the right pocket square, here are six classic men’s tailoring accessories you should try.
The Tie Clip
What Is A Tie Clip?
A tie clip is a simple proposition. It’s essentially a piece of metal that attaches your tie to your shirt, keeping it from flapping around. So, if attempting to wear a tie clip, ensure you actually attach the tie to your shirt (we’ve seen this faux pas many times before).
It’s useful if you work in a more hands-on profession where you move around a lot, or if you just want to accessorise your suit and add an understated flash of metal.
When Should You Wear A Tie Clip?
You can wear a tie clip with most suits, shirts and tie combinations. They’re not overly formal and, due to their simplicity, they’re idea for wearing to the office, to a wedding reception or virtually any occasion where a suit is required.
However, you shouldn’t wear it with a three-piece suit. The whole purpose of the tie clip, apart from looking good, is to keep your tie in place. A waistcoat already does that job for you, making a tie clip redundent.
A three-piece suit is already a bolder, more formal look, so a tie clip doesn’t really add anything anyway.
Recommended Men’s Tie Clips
Tie clips are often best when kept simple. Channel your inner Mad Men and go for a simple, stainless steel or silver, plain fronted bar that easily slides over your tie.
Alternatively, given that there’s only so much you can do with a suit, a tie clip gives you the opportunity to inject a bit of personality into a look. Opt for something classic yet with a bit of character – a gold Art Deco tie clip, for example, or one with subtle engravings – and your suit will instantly look a whole lot more interesting.
The Lapel Pin
What Is A Lapel Pin?
Lapel pins are purely ornamental. They serve no function other than to jazz up a suit’s lapel with a flash of silver or gold.
They’re ideal for giving an otherwise minimal suit a bit of an edge though, and, if you happen to pledge allegiance to a specific brand, party or cause, they’re a great way to do that, too.
When Should You Wear A Lapel Pin
Anywhere you want, really. Lapel pins aren’t particularly formal, and they’re not needed for any special occasions, so if you fancy it, go for it.
They can add a bit of flair to a dinner jacket, or make an unstructured blazer look more interesting, such is their versatility.
Recommended Men’s Lapel Pins
The choice is never ending when it comes to lapel pins. There aren’t any rules to adhere to necessarily, although it’s generally advised you don’t go too outlandish with them.
One thing to consider is the colour, as contrasting metals aren’t ideal. Keep things safe, match them up to the rest of your jewellery and combine a silver lapel pin with a silver watch, or a gold one with a gold wedding ring and a bracelet.
What Are Cufflinks?
For the younger generations, there’s a chance many have never had to wear cufflinks. Once an essential part of dressing up, it’s now harder to find double cuff shirts that require cufflinks than it is those with button cuffs.
For said double cuff, aka French cuff shirts, cufflinks ensure they can be done up. Simple in design, they feed through the holes in the cuff, securing them in place and keeping the wearer looking smart.
When Should You Wear Cufflinks?
Double cuff shirts are more formal than button cuff shirts, so cufflinks are generally reserved for only the smartest of occasions.
No longer required for the office with the casualisation of the workplace, cufflinks are most often worn at weddings, funerals, awards evenings and other similarly smart affairs.
Recommended Men’s Cufflinks
Cufflinks largely come down to personal taste. While you could go for a simple, minimally designed version, why not use them as a way of injecting some of your own personality into a look?
Hand-me-downs are always a good shout, while popular styles include vintage coin cufflinks, automotive designs or plain engraved versions.
The Dress Watch
What Is A Dress Watch?
Dress watches are timepieces in their purest form. Designed to be worn with smart tailoring, hence the name, they have simple dials that are usually ‘time only’ – i.e. they don’t have any extraneous features like chronographs or dive bezels.
Usually coming on a leather strap, they’re sharp, sophisticated and wouldn’t look out of place on the wrist of James Bond or Don Draper.
When Should You Wear A Dress Watch?
Wear them any time you wear a suit. It doesn’t matter which style of suit, or the occasion, dress watches always fit the bill.
Their slim cases and minimal designs ensure they’re never in the way or demanding unwanted attention, making them perfect for everything from dates to office wear.
Recommended Men’s Dress Watches
Dress watches are often at their best when kept as simple as possible. That means a dial with no date, minimal hour markers and subtle branding; keep things as classy as possible.
Don’t be afraid to go vintage, either. Look at auction sites for classic watches built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and you’ll find plenty of bargains.
The Pocket Square
What Is A Pocket Square?
A square piece of silk or cotton that goes in your suit jacket or blazer’s front chest pocket. It adds a pop of colour in the form of a patterned version or keeps things clean and minimal with a white sliver peaking out.
When Should You Wear A Pocket Square
When you want to make an impression and really dress your suit up to its full potential. Pocket squares aren’t functional and unlike handkerchiefs aren’t supposed to be used for blowing your nose.
They also smarten up a suit slightly, so bust them out when you want to look your best.
Recommended Men’s Pocket Squares
There are limitless options when it comes to pocket squares. So whether you want something tonal to blend in with your suit, or you want a contrasting pop of colour or flamboyant pattern, the world is your oyster.
If you’re unsure where to start, it’s difficult to go wrong with a navy silk polka dot pocket square, or indeed, one in simple white silk.
When it comes to something more colourful, look for tones and patterns which complement what you’re wearing. Navy, dark green, browns and burnt oranges typically work well together, so use them as a starting point.
What Are Braces/Suspenders?
You know what braces are, you’ve just never had to wear them. Once the only way to hold your trousers up, before belts and side adjusters became more popular, braces button into the waist of your trousers, suspending them and keeping them at a consistent height, ensuring the wearer looks sharp at all times.
When Should You Wear Braces?
There’s no two ways about it, suspenders are a strong look. While they’re immensely practical, they’re not commonly worn, so as soon as you wear them be prepared to make a statement.
They should only worn with certain styles of trousers: those with a mid to high rise so the braces can do their job and suspend the pants properly. The trouser waist shouldn’t be too tight, either, which allows the braces to hold them in place rather than act as merely an adornment.
Recommended Men’s Braces/Suspenders
Forget clip ons, proper suspenders are button on. With leather ends that attach to buttons on your trousers, traditional braces are typically made with silk, but find a pair made from stretch polyester and they’ll do an equally fine job.