Tips for clothing accessories – don’t try too hard

Q My husband and I read your column regularly, and almost every week you help him add another thoughtful element to his morning dress selections. But I feel like it maybe looks too planned out or too coordinated with too many special touches. We both like to be well dressed, but can you explain to her what’s too much?

A As much as I think it’s important for men to be careful and careful about what they wear, but there are few men who try too hard. Recently, on a commuter train platform, I noticed a man with beautiful silver hair; I noticed the elan with which he carried his gray felt hat. Like most women who like to see a man with a hat, I thought, “Now there’s a man with style.” He wore a raincoat the same color as his hat. But then he draped the coat over his shoulders in a magazine model pose and glanced – a bit too lovingly – at his reflection in a nearby window. A real change of scenery! Although women, by their own admission, admire a man who knows one of two things about style, there is a risk of looking too closely.

Some men avoid dressing like the plague. For example, the Old School, Eastern Establishment type cares about their appearance and is always well trimmed and groomed. However, anything that borders on dandyism is anathema. He doesn’t need or want his clothes to stand out, make a statement, or draw attention to him. But other men have strong anti-clone attitudes and are always looking for something a little special to set them apart. Many small points of difference present themselves as options.

To avoid looking “too perfect”, I tell men to focus on the main elements and then be a bit more laid back on the extras – the accessories. Specifically, get yourself a really good quality suit, tie (if you’re wearing one) and shoes, then relax a bit with the rest – the shirt, the belt, the pocket square, the socks.

The shirt should be of good quality, but it doesn’t need to be French dress, especially for work. Forget fancy belt buckles. Socks should be the right color and length (long enough that no skin is visible when sitting cross-legged), but don’t overdo it with precisely matched materials or colors. Avoid adding too many fine stitches, such as a silk pocket square, waistcoat, well-tied tie, tie clasp, cufflinks, maybe a pair of intricately patterned socks; too many of them can make you seem way too involved. That’s not to say you can’t and shouldn’t have some nice quality features in your wetsuit, but most of your concerns should be about big purchases, with much less emphasis on “extras”. Unfortunately, “looking too good” is not a widespread problem.

Here is a useful formula to follow:

• Choose quality clothing, especially for your large items;

• All elements of good grooming must be followed, including a good haircut (regularly groomed), neatly groomed hands with short, neat fingernails (without even a hint of polish);

• Adopt only some of the special keys. Don’t overdo it. Since it can be difficult to have everything spotless and new, you can insert a little break from perfection by carrying, for example, a not-so-new briefcase or wearing an old favorite scarf. Perhaps the best advice is to not overdo it!

Please send your questions and comments about men’s dress and grooming to MALE CALL:

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