Mark Twain once shrewdly observed, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” The way we dress sends all sorts of signals to those around us, eliciting reactions ranging from amusement to admiration.
Naturally, most men would prefer to fall somewhere in the latter category but, given the amount of space in our brains devoted to sex, alcohol and sports, we often lack the time or energy required to achieve sartorial splendor.
That said you don’t have to be a fashion designer to know that style matters. Placing basic wardrobe challenges aside for the moment, let’s take a look at some of the smaller details that make a big difference. Here, in no particular order, are 5 things you should own.
1. Silk tie — these days’ even traditional white-collar jobs have more relaxed dress codes but, when the situation calls for a tie you want it to count. Knit ties have their place and that place would be the back of your closet. A best quality silk tie, in a solid color is the best bet for elegance and versatility, although geometric patterns gel well, too.
2. Watch — sure, when you want to know the time these days, you probably check your phone, but a watch is more than a timepiece. It’s a fashion statement of your personal style. Digital sport watches are fine, but they look out of place when you’re out for a night in town. Conversely, a watch always looks good whether you’re wearing it to a black tie affair or out for a round of sport.
3. Belt — Make sure you own at least two; one in black and brown leather. (Your belt should always match the color of your shoes.) Make sure it’s about an inch wide. Narrower belts provide less definition at the waist. Wider ones make you look like a gunslinger or a gangster.
4. Sunglasses — a pair of polarized sunglasses is fine, but when you’re out in the crowd you’ll look less like a Fearless Fly in a good pair of designer shades. Look for ones that offer both UV-A and UV-B protection and choose the style of frames that best fits your face (the cheaper kinds are pretty much one-size-fits-all).
5. Leather wallet — Wallets are one of those things we should replace more often than we do. If yours is starting to look like road kill, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Real original leather looks best and lasts longer. Never overload a wallet. A fat wallet in your back pocket looks like a tumor or a boom.