You throw a rock in any metro area and you’re guaranteed it pinballs off four dudes who don’t know how to properly wear men’s accessories. That same principle applies outside of cities, too, but population density allows for a much funnier mental image of a human version of Full Tilt! Pinball. If you’re one of those dudes, it’s okay. There’s a much shorter leap from style-challenged to well-dressed modern man than you may think.
Let’s Dispel Some Myths
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Myth 1: Don’t Mix Metals
Look, this one is just a lie. Think about it. Could you imagine buying a sick rose gold men’s wedding band and then having to find exclusively rose gold accessories for the rest of your life? That would be a nightmare, and no one would ever buy them. Luckily, you can mix metals. You just have to know how to do it.
As long as you stick to two metals max and have one metal more predominant than the other (i.e., two silver pieces and one gold), you’re off to the races.
Myth 2: All Your Leathers Have to Match
There’s more credence to this than the first myth. However, it’s still a lie. In more conservative style circles, yes, match your leathers as exactly as possible. Outside of that, as long as they’re in the same family and look good together, you’re fine.
Myth 3: Match Your Tie and Pocket Square
We just have a personal vendetta against this one. Hopefully, no one is still spouting this nonsense outside of those tux rental shops around prom season. They shouldn’t be either, but you can’t win ’em all. Like leathers, they should complement each other nicely. However, if we ever see you with a tie and pocket square matching exactly, we’re going to kick you straight in the shin. Okay, probably not. But maybe.
How to Match Accessories
There are actually only a few rules to keep in mind here. A big part of style is trying new things out and bending the rules, so don’t be afraid to stray from the rules and just see if it works out. If it does, awesome. If not, well, you learned your lesson, and now you have new information.
When in Doubt, Match Metals
“But you just said…?” Yeah, yeah, we’re aware. Look, you don’t have to match your metals. However, if you aren’t yet good at artfully mixing metals, it’s best to stick to matching metals. You’ll notice this as a theme in all men’s style. Learn the rules, and once you properly understand them, you can break them deliberately and artfully.
As you leave your style chrysalis and become a fashionable butterfly and all that, you’ll be able to mix metals like a pro. Until you get there, though, there’s no shame in just matching your metals. Even if it isn’t terribly fashion-forward, it looks really classic and put together.
Less Is More
If you take one lesson out of all of these, let it be this one. This is just a good rule in fashion, unless you’re a high-end designer or something. In that case, put all those weird prints together and sell it for an obscene amount of money. We digress. When it comes to accessories, two or three at most is really the ideal place to be. Maybe a watch to match your silver men’s wedding band along with a bracelet or cufflinks at a formal event.
As you get really good at this, you can push the style envelope and add in layers of bracelets and chains and earrings and all manner of things you can think of. Until then, though, keep it at three pieces max.
Watches and Sunglasses Are Your New Best Friends
If you just grab a nice watch and a flattering pair of sunglasses, you elevate an average outfit three levels real quick. Seriously, it’s that easy. Make sure your watch and sunglasses complement each other, of course. Gold watches and brown sunglasses, silver watches and black sunglasses. You get the idea. If you’re ever in doubt, just look up a color wheel and find the colors that flatter the metals you’re wearing.
Start with Your Outfit
Unless you have a really bold piece of jewelry you want to plan an outfit around, it’s in your best interest to just get dressed and figure out what pieces work with what you’re already wearing. As you get good at this, you can start to plan outfits around a watch or ring, but hold off on that one for a while.
There’s no shame in starting small, either. A basic outfit that fits well looks great. You don’t need to reinvent the style wheel here, especially if it’s your first foray into giving a shit about how you look. Few stylish guys spent their whole life caring about how they looked. Most picked it up somewhere along the way.
Know the Difference Between Casual and Formal
Okay, this sounds obvious, but it isn’t. Do you know how to identify a formal versus casual belt? Plenty of dudes don’t, so it’s okay if you’re one of them. It’s usually a lot easier to tell the difference between formal and casual watches than other accessories, but make sure you know which pieces you own are for formal wear and which ones are for casual. Now, of course, dressy casual pieces kind of split the difference, but start with the basics.
Matching men’s accessories is more art than science, but there sure is some science to it. Once you get the basics down, you have a simple, repeatable strategy to make sure you look good every time you leave the house.