By: PEYTON MAYS
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 and professional sports, we often lack the time or energy required to achieve sartorial splendor.
That said, you don’t have to be an editor at GQ to know that style matters. (If you have any lingering doubts about that, it’s time to watch the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate again.) 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 10 things you should own with links to where you can find and buy them without wasting a lot of time actually shopping.
Proper 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. Proper Ties Have Their place, and that place is the back of your closet. A top quality silk tie in a solid color is your best bet for elegance and versatility, although geometric and foulard patterns work well, too. Experiment with different knots. Dress shirt collar shapes and size vary and a four-in-hand might look fine with one while another might look sharper with a Pratt knot.
Dress Watch: Sure, when you want to know the time, you probably check your cell phone. But a watch is more than a timepiece: It’s a statement of your personal style. Digital sport watches are fine, but they look out of place when you’re decked out for a night on the town. Conversely, a dress watch always looks good whether you’re wearing it to a black tie affair or out for a round of golf. You don’t have to spring for a Rolex or a TAG Heuer, but find yourself something with a little class.
Cufflinks:While it’s true that 99 percent of your shirts don’t need them, every guy should own at least one pair for those times when only French cuffs will do. Avoid the novelty kind (dice, cocktail glasses, etc.) and forget about rhinestones and gems. Think Monte Carlo, not Vegas.
Belt: Make sure you own two–one each 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.
Sunglasses: A pair of polarized drugstore sunglasses are fine for tucking above your sun visor in the car, but when you’re out in the crowd you’ll look less like 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).
A Decent Bathrobe: Most of us seldom bother with a robe at home since we’re usually either dressed or not, but when you’re visiting family or friends, or hosting same, you should have something to slip on between bedroom and bath that won’t scare the kids. Terrycloth tends to get ratty faster. Velour, silk and kimono styles try too hard to be Hef. A solid color in light, knee-length cotton or flannel is your best bet.
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. Top grain leather looks best and usually lasts longer. Never overload it. A fat wallet in your back pocket looks like a tumor. You also could opt for a slimmer credit card holder for your driver’s license, ATM and main cards and just use a money clip for your cash.
Valet Tray: At the end of the day, you empty your pockets and dump all that stuff on the top of your dresser. At the end of the month, the top of your dresser looks like a cross between a coin collection, a desk drawer and a pawn shop. No wonder you can never find your car keys. The solution? Get yourself a dresser-top valet box or tray.
Scarf: This is an essential seasonal accessory. It not only will keep wintry blasts from finding their way down through your collar, but it also dresses up your topcoat. Save the fleece for the ski slopes. You’ll want to find something soft and stylish in cashmere or merino wool.
Leather Travel Kit: The Transportation Security Administration may require us to flash our liquid, aerosol and gel stash in a zip-lock bag, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a more elegant solution for the rest of your toiletry gear. These kits come in everything from nylon to canvas, which is fine for the kids, but for us more genteel hombres, leather is the only choice.