As mentioned in Back to the Game 1 - dress to impress not distress, when it comes to men’s fashion and style, less is always more.
When it comes to accessories, the same applies because, if you keep things simple and tasteful you can’t really go wrong – it’s when you wear too many accessories or wear cheap or inappropriate pieces that things begin to take a bad turn.
We’ll take a look at all the different accessories you could sport when out on date and how you can use them to enhance your look and send a powerful message. We’ll also pay attention to the don’ts, wherever necessary. You can use these tips as general guidelines that are universally applicable however; styles vary from one country to the next, one area to the next and, obviously depend on personal style. Keeping this in mind, if you’re a cowboy boots, belt-buckle and embellished ring kind of person – that’s what you should wear because nothing you choose to wear (or not to wear) can ever be as powerful as self-confidence and a great overall character and personality.
The wrist watch
One of the most important accessories that any man can wear is a wrist watch. This is the most common male accessory and suits absolutely anyone because it’s easy to pull off. Psychologically, wearing a watch will give you a stronger presence and make you look more important, successful and capable. It also sends a subconscious message that you are responsible in managing both your time and commitments. Women will automatically notice a man’s watch – even if they don’t know much about brands. I would say in most cases the look of the watch is more important than the brand although every man should look to make a decent investment in at least this one accessory – if nothing else. When it comes to a wearing a timepiece, you can’t really go wrong – unless you’re wearing a piece that looks more like a child’s toy than a man’s watch. Size is important because an oversized watch that you can’t even fit your cuff over is neither attractive nor functional and a watch that is too small simply will not look good on a man’s wrist, particularly if he has large hands. The good news is that almost all of the famous brands in the world make watches that are of a decent size – you just have to pick one that matches your taste. Watches can say a lot about a person’s personality – active people tend to wear sportsmen’s watches which are usually more bulky because of the multiple functions they serve. If you're an outdoor’s type of person who is highly active and adventurous this is the watch that you need but, do note that wearing a visibly sporty watch with a suit doesn’t work – ever. If you're looking to make only one single purchase, you must ensure it’s one where there is a good balance between the sportsmen’s watch functionality and a refined look. The Timex, Citizen and Fossil brands are popular amongst sportsmen because they are durable, functional and quality brands. There are certain pieces that are listed in the sport watch category yet they have a classic design that isn’t bulky or over-bearing and this is the type you need to look at. For those who are successful, corporate or executive types than naturally a sleek, classic style of watch will send off a message of success, refined taste and class. The most popular brands for executive types include Omega (the old pieces), Seiko, Pulsar, Timex, Citizen and Tissot, among many others such as Tag Heuer and Bulova. All these brands have classic collections available that are sure to make an impression and can be considered a good investment since they last a long time and can even be sold if you no longer fancy it. There are some pieces that are out of reach for most but certainly deserve a mention because every man should at least know they exist. These include the Rolex, Cartier, Grand Seiko and Philippe Dufour brands – the latter which are so rare only about 10 pieces are produced per year.
Now, let’s get to the shoes – although many would argue that shoes are not accessories since they cannot be “easily” removed and serve a sincere purpose, we’ll include them here because they have to coordinate with your clothes and are a very important part of your overall look. A watch must be paired with shoes that match but, I’m not referring to color co-ordination. So basically, if you're wearing a classic timepiece there is no way that you can wear sneakers or slippers and vice versa. On a first date most men either wear smart suit pans with a collar shirt that’s open at the neck and smart shoes or a polo shirt with jeans and sneakers if the date is either activity based, casual or happening earlier in the day. If you're going for a smart look you’ll need a quality pair of smart shoes. When it comes to shoes, prices can vary so much that there is no point on commenting on it. As a rule, you need to look for shoes that are made from natural materials like leather because synthetic materials look bad and they won’t last either – so consider making an investment in at least one pair of high-quality shoes. A general rule is that a high quality pair of shoes will always have their soles stitched onto the shoe – never, ever glued. Black shoes are the most popular for most men but, if you're not going to be wearing black suit pants and plan on pairing the shoes with jeans you may want to consider buying brown shoes. There are 5 main types of shoe styles that you’ll want to look at; the first and most popular is the oxford style which is an all-purpose, laced dress shoe which is not bulky or overdone in any way. You can certainly wear them on a first date, to work or wherever else you want. If you're only going to invest in one pair of good shoes, this should probably be it. For formal occasions, only shiny, polished oxfords will do. A classic more formal version of the oxfords are the cap toes which are also laced shoes but usually come in shiny leather and are more decorated with a contrasting leather band sown across the toe portion of the shoe. In general, this shoe cannot really be paired with jeans as it will look awkward and inappropriately matched. Another option are the less common loafers which are always best for semi-formal occasions. Since loafers do not have laces or buckles, they can be paired well with jeans too. The monk strap shoes are very close to the loafer in that there are no laces and their basic design is similar. Monk strap shoes will have a metal buckle on the top potion and likewise, work really well with jeans. The last shoe you should consider is the versatile dress boot – as the name suggests it’s a mix between a boot and classic dress shoe that is ankle-high. As mentioned, if you're not sure which style to go for, the oxfords are the best option, after which come loafers.
Belts are also one of those things that really depend on personal style but a simple leather belt that matches your shoes will always work for formal and semi-formal occasions. It will also work well with those who want to wear dressy jeans with shoes. Bright colors and buckles what are oversized or embellished should be avoided.
Ties are also great accessories that should be part of any mans wardrobe but we aren’t really going to discuss them in much detail as there are rarely any dates you’d ever go on that really warrant a tie – even if you’re wearing a suit. It’s now by far more commonplace for a tie to be worn in the workplace or for formal occasions.
Let’s talks about scarves – during winter months, a scarf can be worn to warm you up and give your look a bit of flair. Almost all women will say that a scarf is one of the sexiest accessories a man can wear. Black, navy, brown and grey are the colors you want to stick with, particularly if the scarf has a pattern with a mixture of these. A scarf can be worn just as well with jeans as it can with semi-formal attire but it has to be paired well. The unfortunate truth is that most men struggle to pull the scarf look off and, if you're really uncertain, it’s best to go without it. Remember that the fabric of the scarf matters a lot; wooly scarves work best with casual outfits while sleeker fabrics like satin and cotton work well across the board. Whatever you do, avoid bright, inappropriate colors, over bulky scarves and shiny fabrics. We’ve seen many celebrities sporting scarves with names like P-Diddy, Brad Pitt and Jude Law topping the list because they always seem to pull it off flawlessly. Try different styles to see which looks best with your outfit – from a classic knot to a wrap around or simply worn hanging down naturally – a scarf can be a great accessory.
Sunglasses are also a very important accessory for the day time and don’t need much explaining since it’s quite obvious that a classic, simple pair can be worn in all semi-formal and casual occasions. Pilot styles and beach glasses should only be worn in informal situations and sports sunglasses only if you’re going to be doing something sporty or are wearing a sporty outfit.
When looking for the right pair of sunglasses – there are certain rules that every man should know. Firstly, they are absolutely one of the most noticeable accessories since they’re on your face and covering one of the most important communication tools you have – your eyes. If you're planning on going out on an outdoor lunch date, afternoon stroll or any outdoor activity, sunglasses can certainly boost your presence and add some flair to your look. Firstly, mirror specs are out of the question – unless you’re a sportsmen or teenager stay way clear. Brightly colored lenses and frames are not particularly masculine and can make you look immature and unrefined, unless they are prescribed for medical reasons, in which case they will be perfectly acceptable. Don’t ever wear sunglasses at night or indoors – this will definitely sound the weirdo bell. Make sure your sunglasses match your outfit and remember that when it comes to sunglasses getting a pair that compliment your face is far more important than the latest trends – which can always be pushed aside by a classic look. Size is important and you need to ensure they are neither too big, nor too small which will make it quite obvious that they’re there for aesthetic reasons only.
Bracelets are not as common as wrist watches for men but they are certainly an accessory that can refine any man’s look. Silver, platinum and white gold are perhaps better options than gold in most cases. Precious stones must be kept to a minimum to avoid looking a tad bit too feminine. It’s a bad idea to wear a watch and bracelet on the same wrist – especially if the metal tones differ as it will draw attention and is a sign of poor style, not to mention the fact that it may be noisy and scratch both your watch and bracelet.
Rings are a difficult piece of jewelry. Obviously if you're married you’ll be wearing a wedding band and there is nothing wrong with that but be careful if you decide on wearing a ring for aesthetic purposes. People interpret rings in three major ways, first with the married man, second with wealth or power and third with organized crime. If you don’t fall into any of these categories you may want to leave your ring at home. Or, make sure it’s a non-wedding ring on the opposite hand and is fairly simple.
Necklaces are easy since they will be worn underneath clothing – so whether you choose to wear a cross for religious purposes or your dog tags from your military days – old or silver, this is a completely up to you. If you're going to be wearing more than one necklace over your clothing and are not a rapper or artist this may sound some alarm bells for women that you may not intend to ring.
Earrings are a big no, no in most situations and occasions. If this is your personal style whether you choose to wear one earring or two - nothing can be said just make sure you keep other jewelry pieces to a minimum to avoid looking over embezzled. I don’t think there is any reason that a man should wear earrings but, as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, personal style varies and if you're a professional athlete or artist, there isn’t any reason that you should wear earrings.
Cufflinks and tie bars are totally acceptable for formal and even some semi-formal occasions just ensure that the metals tones match with one another – and with the other jewelry you intend to wear – a gold watch with silver cufflinks will not generally look good. All men need a good pair of cufflinks because they are timeless and can really give a trendy, sophisticated look to any shirt. As a general rule, the simpler, the better – because you can’t go wrong with simple.
Lastly, let’s talk about perhaps the most controversial accessory – hats. I doubt that there is any particular reason that any man should wear a hat on a first date, unless he’s trying to pull off an artistic look. If you're a painter or a musician and want to deliver that without a single word - a hat is the way to go. In all other cases, unless you're going out in below 0 degree conditions or are going golfing - leave the hat at home.