Perhaps the best part of wearing a men’s suit is choosing which suit accessory you will add. Think of your suit as the cake, and your best suit accessories are the icing.
You start with the basic, the foundation: a suit. Each suit accessory adds another layer of style.
How you build up from your suit can go in almost any direction. You could wear the same suit every day and switch your accessories up and have a different outfit each time.
A tie is perhaps the most noticeable suit accessory. It certainly is the most common one. Ties are a part of almost every suit ensemble, yet they can vary greatly.
Tie choice is a personal one, reflecting your own tastes and sensibilities. It’s an accessory that adds “you” to your suit without violating any dress code you may be following.
A tie increases the formality of your attire. It’s usually paired best with a dress shirt.
A suit cannot be formal without a tie; it falls into the realm of casual otherwise. It can still look tasteful if you leave off the tie but keep in mind that it’s less dressy.
If you are aiming for a more formal look, you will definitely need a bow tie. A bow tie is generally accompanied by a tuxedo shirt and is best reserved for black-tie events.
A solid tie is the most conservative and often the best suit accessory choice. But subtle patterning can add a little extra pizazz to your ensemble for a change.
Just remember to keep the pattern event appropriate. Perhaps cartoon characters at your sister’s wedding may not be the wisest choice.
Most grown men know how to tie a tie, but do they know more than the classic Windsor knot?
Don’t shy away from experimenting with a few other swift and chic knotting methods. It may really stand out and up your style game by putting a twist on this common suit accessory.
A classic pocket square is a suit accessory that’s a simple way to add a splash of color to your outfit.
Most often, men’s suits are a neutral shade, think grey or tan. If the tie is also a neutral shade, a little color peeking out of the breast pocket may feel like a breath of fresh air.
The most important thing is the color of your pocket square. It should never be matchy-matchy with your tie. It looks unsophisticated, immature.
Instead, focus on finding pocket squares that complement the tones in your suit. It can be used to highlight the colors of your suit jacket, your tie, or even your dress shirt.
It will also be helpful to learn a proper technique for folding your pocket square. There are many, many fold styles out there.
If you are dressing on the more formal side, keep the fold very simple. Black-tie events, for example, require the simplest presidential pocket square fold. Anything else would simply feel overdone.
However, if you add a pocket square to a more casual suit, you can be wild and elaborate. A fancy fold in your pocket square can add a flourish to your casual suit.
One final note: a pocket square is not a handkerchief. Don’t use a handkerchief as a pocket square, and don’t blow your nose in your pocket squares. It isn’t a functional suit accessory.
The watch is one of the best suit accessories that you should always consider wearing. It’s a remarkably functional and stylish detail and powerful and beautiful addition to any men’s suit.
The dressier your suit is, the simpler your watch should be. It should be a subtle addition, not one that draws attention.
That said, you can also choose a watch that has a lightly colored face that will highlight the tones in your suit. A grey or light blue face can be an understated change of pace from a white watch face.
If you aren’t dressing for a fancy event but wearing a regular business suit, you are free to branch out in watch styles.
A stainless-steel band and some added functionalities are great ways to add some flair to your suit. You don’t need to be subtle as with a more formal suit.
Whichever watch you opt for, I suggest you invest in something high quality. People are going to notice your watch, especially when it’s right on your wrist for the world to see.
Also, a good investment will last you longer and make a better impression than a cheap watch.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good affordable watches out there; but the watch is an accessory worth spending a little cash on.
And isn’t a watch so much more elegant than whipping out your cell phone to check the time?
If you are wearing a double cuffed shirt, known as French cuffs, you will need to add this suit accessory. It will hold your cuffs closed instead of them flapping open.
Cufflinks are quite elegant looking and another chance to show off your personal taste.
Cufflinks come in all varieties and types. The most suitable ones for your regular business suit will likely be a basic metal design. For formal outings, you can get fancy with gemstones and silk knots at your wrists.
However, simple and unadorned is better for your standard suit. Understated is typically better than overdone, as with most suit accessories.
Be sure to keep your choice appropriate to the setting. You can find some very fun, novelty cufflinks, but those are best left at home for business meetings. Save the more outrageous ones for fun social events.
It may be tricky to put on your cufflinks, but the effect is well worth it. Your suit will suddenly gain ten points for class with cufflinks.
Nobody likes saggy pants. They don’t look nice, and they don’t feel comfortable wearing them, either. A nice belt can help with that.
The belt may be the one non-negotiable suit accessory; if your pants are falling, you can’t skip this one.
A belt will keep your pants in place around your waist while also preventing your pant hem from hitting the floor. This has the bonus of ensuring that your suit pants will have the proper trouser break, an important part of a suit fit.
The suit pants belt should be leather and as formal as possible. It should be simple, unembellished, and slim.
It also must match the leather of your shoes, so take care in pairing those together with your suit.
Tie Bar / Tie Clip
A tie bar is very similar to a tie clip. Both do exactly that – keep your tie clipped to your shirt.
Tie bars help your tie stay smooth and unwrinkled. It also prevents your tie from hanging askew or swinging around.
This is another area where you get to make a design choice. A tie bar can be a simple strip of plain metal or have a design on them.
Tie bars don’t generally have much pizzazz to them. They aren’t meant to be a grand centerpiece of your suit, just a subtle touch of elegance.
A tie bar is a far better solution than the tie tack. A tie tack pins the tie to your dress shirt. It often ends up ruining the fabric of your tie because it leaves a tiny hole.
And nobody likes accessories that leave a mark.
A lapel pin is not a very common suit accessory these days, though they are gaining in popularity. Once upon a time, they were simply used to identify with a group or an organization.
Today, though, decorative lapel pins are now popping up all over. That’s because these suit accessories are a great way to represent the individual style of any modern man.
If you are choosing a decorative lapel pin, you can even coordinate it with your pocket square. They may have similar designs or colors; sometimes, they may even be sold as a set.
The lapel pin is, of course, worn on the lapel of the suit jacket and can be worn on the same side as your pocket square.
Suspenders are not as popular of a suit accessory as they once were but deserve a lot more attention. They add an old-fashioned charm to any men’s suit.
Just a peek of a suspender strap under the jacket tells a person that this man takes pride in dressing.
Suspenders can be attached to a pair of suit trousers by either buttoning or clipping them on. When possible, try to avoid clips. Clips are not terribly secure, and they aren’t at all classy.
If your pants don’t have buttons inside the waistband to hold the suspenders, you can easily sew some in. Or ask your tailor to.
Suspenders are fantastic because they help your pants to hang the proper way on your body, unlike a belt. Because a belt cinches the fabric around the waist, it interferes with the drape of the cloth.
Tuxedo, for example, isn’t intended for use with belts; belts break the continuous line of the tuxedo, with even its tiny bulge.
Suit Accessories Should Boost Your Confidence
Do you know who you most need to keep in mind as you put your suit and suit accessories together? Yourself!
If you aren’t feeling good about the way you look, that will carry over throughout your day. Be sure you have the correct fit for your suit. An ill-fitting suit will make you self-conscious.
Your suit and all the suit accessories should make you feel good about how you look. When you feel good in your clothing choices, you can’t help but exude confidence.
A good-fitting suit can almost feel like you’ve put on a suit of armor, and you are ready to battle the day. A well-chosen suit accessory or two are the final weapons you’ll need to complete the look.
No matter how much you hear that certain suit accessories will make your outfit complete, if it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t add it. It will only make you self-conscious.
But Don’t Over-Accessorize
Less really is more. Some of these accessories are fantastic and necessary. Others are icing on the cake.
Suit accessories can be great fun and a perfect way to show off more of your immaculate taste. But it’s best if they are kept understated.
Put them all together, and you end up looking as if you are trying too hard and risk looking like a 5-star general.
You’ll only draw focus to all those suit accessories and not your carefully chosen high-quality suit. A suit accessory is only meant to add a little splash of style, not a tsunami of fashion.
Match Suit Accessories Properly
It’s important to ensure that your suit accessories match with each other we well as your suit.
You need to pick and choose which accessories go with the look you are trying to create. You also need to make sure that they all work with each other, none clashing with the others.
For example, never, ever wear a belt with suspenders. It would feel repetitive. Both serve the same function, so clearly, only one or the other is needed.
Don’t mix your fabrics. Certain fabrics set extremely different moods, so it would feel jarring to see them paired with other drastic fabrics.
One should never wear a wool jacket with a silk tie. A wool jacket lends a sense of heaviness and seriousness to your outfit. A silk tie, on the other hand, is light and airy; it feels somewhat luxurious. The two sensibilities would be in opposition to each other.
Likewise, don’t mix different types of metals or leathers. If your shoes are brown, your belt should be brown. Wearing silver cufflinks? Be sure that your belt buckle is silver.
Suit Accessories Do’s and Don’ts
They say the devil is in the details. But whoever “they” are, they aren’t wrong. If your suit accessory is the detail to your outfit, be sure to get all the details just right.
- Do have more than one good belt. One black leather and one brown leather.
- Do feel empowered to put a bit of color in your suspenders when you are wearing them at social events. A hidden dash of color will add some flair to your duds.
- Don’t get the wrong size pocket square. If your pocket square is a thin, silky material, it can be larger since it will take up less room. However, thicker material pocket squares like cotton need to be smaller so it doesn’t create a lump in your breast pocket.
- Do feel free to fall back on a white pocket square. You can hardly go wrong with a classic.
- Going with a bow tie? Do get one that you tie yourself.
- Do have a couple of watches to match your suit. A nice dress watch is a must; a diver watch is a great alternative to keep around for less formal suits.
- Do pay attention to your socks. They are likely to peek out when you are seated, so be sure they are appropriate. Thin, dark socks that cover your calf are ideal for dressier suits. If you are dressing for a less formal social event, you can play a bit with color and patterns.
- Don’t forget your cufflinks if you are wearing a shirt with French cuffs! Going without or just rolling up your sleeves looks sloppy. Cufflinks are a great opportunity for some style.
- Don’t tuck your tie into your belt. It should be long enough to reach your waistband, but please leave it out.
- Do cultivate your own look. What type of fashion appeals to you? Retro or mod, pick a direction and lean into it!
- Do keep your look simple. You don’t need to try too hard. Stick with the basics, and you are golden.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.