The Pocket Square for me, is perhaps one of the greatest style accessories a man can wear. A Pocket square, in all but the most formal of occasions allows the wearer to add some pizzazz to his outfit.
Worn in the breast pocket of a Suit, Blazer or Sports Coat a pocket square whilst traditionally made of white silk is today the style accessory that the wearer can have the most fun with.
Textured linen, crisp cotton, fine silk or indeed any fabric of choice may be used and much like their colours, the patterns can be simple, plain, muted or outlandish and vibrant.
The advantage a pocket square has over an accessory such as a tie is that only a little of it is on show, which allows for more adventurous designs and colours.
There are some traditions and rules that should be followed, but for the most part, a square can be a great way of expressing your personality.
Some Pocket Square History
The past fifteen to twenty years has seen a resurgence in men's accessory use and this of course also means the pocket square. The history of the pocket square dates back a very long way indeed.
Although its origins are not totally clear, some believe that it stems from the Ancient Greeks carrying a scented cloth, others feel it dates back to the Romans and the tradition of dropping pieces of cloth during Gladiator bouts.
From an etymological point of view the word Kerchief derives from the French words "couvrir" (meaning to cover) and "Chef" (meaning head). During much of the Middle ages, a Kerchief was a piece of cloth worn on the head.
It was in the 16th century that saw a shift with kerchiefs going into peoples pockets, and the term Hand Kerchief arrived. It is believed that the handkerchief was mostly used for two purposes.
Firstly as a scented rag to cover ones nose, due to the overwhelming stench from the poor hygiene practices of the middle ages and secondly the more familiar use of wiping ones nose or sweaty brow.
It wasn't until the rise of the 2 piece suit in the early 1900's that the pocket square as we know it was born and found its way into the breast pocket of men's jackets. Indeed for the first half on the 20th Century men would often carry two handkerchiefs, one in their trouser pocket for personal use and another in their breast pocket to offer to someone in need.
The introduction of the disposable tissue by Kleenex then saw a change in how the Handkerchief was used. No more was it required as a practical accessory it now simply became a fashionable and stylish accessory.
Different Colours, Patterns and Textures
As with any style accessory, the variety is endless. For the most part it is up to you the individual to decide upon what square to wear with what jacket. I myself have about 20 different pocket squares and are chosen to be worn dependent upon a number of things.
Some of the questions to ask yourself would include, How formal is the event or my outfit, What and how many colours are already present in my outfit, What is the sheen of my jacket and simply do any pocket squares clash with what I intend to wear?
The choice of colours are never ending as indeed is the variety of designs. Indeed some high end pocket squares consist of a complete scene more reminiscent of a painting. Paisley, floral or even geometric designs are quite common as are plain solid block colours.
The fabric themselves can vary as well, traditionally a handkerchief would be made from linen, whereas today linen, cotton, synthetic materials and even silk may be used.
Also, the thickness and weave of the material may differ, an example of which would be satin, a type of weave resulting in a glossy appearance.
Another aspect that can vary is the edging on the pocket square, the cotton used may match the material or may in fact supply a contrast to it.
For instance in the photo of the two satin pocket squares, the blue and white striped square utilizes a matching blue thread whilst the white square with icecream designs has a contrasting pink edging. ( The satin Icecream design is currently available in my store along with a few other inexpensive pocket squares )
A Few Basic Rules
There are a few basic rules that should be remembered especially for those new to accessorizing. Whilst most rules are really no more than good pieces of advice there is one hard and fast rule that should always be heeded.
When dressing for a black tie or white tie event the only pocket square to be worn is plain white.
Always take into account the sheen of your jacket, typically a suit jacket has more sheen (i.e. is shinier) than a sports coat or jacket. So naturally a pocket square that works well with your suit jacket may look odd when paired with a tweed sports coat.
Another factor to consider is price. This may seem an odd thing to comment on but whilst inexpensive squares ( such as my own newstartat50 pocket squares) work equally well in many occasions, there are times when paying more for a high end product makes sense.
If for instance you are wearing a $3000 designer suit which is constructed using the best quality suiting material then to wear a square made from a lesser quality fabric would be apparent to even the most casual observer. A fine suit would always warrant a good quality silk pocket square.
When searching online for pocket squares, you will all too frequently come across pocket square sets. My advice is too avoid these at all costs.
A typical set will include a pocket square with a matching tie and in all but one scenario, matching your pocket square to any thing else in your outfit just looks like you have no idea what you are doing. The one exception is if you are the groom or a groomsmen in a wedding party.
The layout test
I find that the simplest way to choose which pocket square to wear is to do what I call "The Layout Test", the beauty of this is that it works for all components of your outfit and ultimately ensures that all pieces work together harmoniously.
What I do is to lay out my outfit on the bed and place a selection of squares on or about my jacket. Then upon seeing how they all work together with the Jacket , my Shirt, Trousers etc I then select two or three options and then try each one of them in my breast pocket.
The point is to not worry about having ironed your clothes, whether or not you have a coat hangers in place, but simply to ascertain the best overall combination. Of course once you have decided, it is time to press your clothes,and ensure they are smart and ready to wear etc.
How to Fold a Pocket Square
There are numerous ways to fold a pocket square however I will show you the 9 most basic ways.
The Presidential Fold
The crispest and most formal is the Presidential (or Square Fold). Not only is this a simple fold but it is the only fold to be used on your white pocket square for Black or White tie events. It is an understated yet ultimately classy fold.
Laying your pressed square flat and fold to the width of your jacket pocket, then fold up to form a rectangle about 10-15mm longer than your pocket is deep. Tuck the folded edge into your pocket which should allow about 1 cm protruding neatly from your breast pocket. Ensure there is no visible overlap as everything must be very neat and sharp.
The Casual Fluff
This is one of my favourite folds, but partially because it requires no folding or any real precision. Of course as such it is a very casual look that pairs well with Jeans and a Casual Sports Coat with a T shirt.
It is so simple I didn't ask my son to draw an infographic. Simply place your index finger in the middle of the underside of your square and use your other hand to draw the fabric over your finger.
Place the pointed end in your square in your pocket and use your fingers to fluff up and adjust to your liking.
The One Point Fold
This is a nice neat fold, suitable for both business and casual attire. Lay your pressed square flat with a corner facing up like a diamond, then fold in half to create a triangle.
Next fold the corners on the base inwards so to create a width the same as your pocket. Now just tuck into your breast pocket leaving only the triangular part exposed.
The Two Point Fold
The Two Point Fold is almost exactly the same as the One Point Fold except when making the first fold, by folding in half upwards towards the point you do so slightly off centre allowing the second point behind to also show.
This works better with a square made from material that is the same both sides. It is simply a step up from the one point fold.
The Three Point Fold
Now we are starting to get into some more complicated folds. The three point fold is a classier and more advanced fold.
Start with a neatly pressed square place flat like a diamond and again fold in half upwards , however you then have to skew your fold slightly so that the fold itself does not run point to point.
Now bring the bottom left corner up to the top to create your three points. Now finally fold the remaining corner inwards and neatly place in your breast pocket.
The Four Point or Cagney Fold
Another advanced fold, but one that is far simpler than it looks at first. Again fold upwards and slightly askew allowing two corners to show.Fold the left corner up followed by the right corner in such a way as to have 4 evenly spaced peaks.
Now simply fold the left and right sides in together and turn up the bottom to allow you to put it neatly into your pocket. ( The orange pocket square in the photo below is available in my store)
The Puff Fold
This is quite a quick and easy fold and is pretty much a reverse of The Fluff. Patterned squares will look better with this fold, so think paisley, dots, pictures etc.
To make the Puff Fold pinch the centre of your square and lift it up allowing the edges to hang. Now carefully roll the bottom up until the correct length for your pocket has been achieved and insert into your breast pocket.
The next step is to spend a little time gently tugging on the square to achieve a 3 dimension and good looking puff. It is crucial to note that The Puff Fold will have some dimples and creases, this is part of its organic looking appeal.
The Winged Puff Fold
A versatile fold with the wings giving it a touch of added style. You will need a pocket square that is as close to being a genuine square shape as possible for this one.
Simply lay your square out like a Diamond and this time folding down and towards yourself joining the top and bottom corners. Now fold the two top corners in to form a smaller diamond shape.
Now with the exception of the top winged peak, fold the remaining 3 corners in. Your next step is to tuck it in to your pocket and gently puff it out a bit, being mindful that a crisp peak is not required and that a domed peak will give it its natural puff look.
The Scallop Fold
This is a fold that certainly has a sense of class and style about it. Begin with a pressed square flat in a square shape as opposed to a diamond this time. Now you need to fold in half to form a triangle and then do so again to form another smaller triangle.
Your next step is the tricky part, rolling each of the two top down and across, it is vital that you don't fold but carefully roll the fabric to create a smooth curl reminiscent of a scarf around your neck.
Poke the pointed end into your pocket and tidy up the scallop so it has a soft and organic look.
Hopefully now I have inspired you to start your own collection of pocket squares and that you are no longer daunted by the prospect of folding them.
Pocket Squares are a simple way to personalize any outfit when wearing a jacket. So feel free to pop by my store where I have a few inexpensive handmade squares for sale
Dictionary.com describes style as "a mode of fashion, as in dress, especially good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness". Whereas, for me, a persons sense of style, is the way a person chooses to portray themselves aesthetically.
A persons style should reflect who they are, who they wish to be and how they would like others to view them. So how then with all these subtle complexities, do we discover our own sense of style?
In truth, the answer to that is to say "Over Time". A personal sense of style is something that evolves, something that begins as a foggy haze of influences and likes and which over time begins to come in to focus, resulting in a your own unique look and a sense of self confidence and worth.
On the surface, one would imagine that any search for a personal sense of style would begin simply in buying clothes you like, but starting here will see you waste money and slow down your style discovery.
Sure, most of us have an idea of what we like and what we don't like, some even have a concept of how they wish to look. However, to truly discover your own personal style means first to discover who you really are, or at the very least, begin that journey.
Know yourself first
I maintain that very few people have any real concept of themselves until they are thirty and it is not until you turn forty that you are really getting a handle on who you really are.
In your twenties, you tend to be swayed by your interpretations of what society expects of you, social media, peer pressure and the wish to impress others (Usually those of the opposite sex that have sent your hormones racing). This does not mean that someone in their twenties cannot dress in style, it means that he is unlikely to have discovered his own unique sense of style.
Knowing who you innately are, will help you define what you want from your attire, what environments you are likely to be in and your overall lifestyle. For instance should you regularly attend Gala's and Gallery Openings a regular outfit comprising of blue jeans and a crisp T-shirt may not be the best look for you.
Of course I cannot tell you who you are, that is something that only you can know. I do however know that being divorced and nearly Fifty, I had to go on a journey of self discovery myself and have blogged about discovering your single self after divorce, although the advice within is relevant to all, divorced or not.
So once you have a concept of who you really are, the next step is to begin building your wardrobe. My piece of advice here is to do so slowly and allow it to grow.
If you go out and buy an entire wardrobe full of outfits, you may find that whilst they are good outfits and you look great in them that they may not fit your evolving style. The best way is to first of all edit your current wardrobe. Remove everything and only put back that which you would want to wear now that you are focusing on a sense of style.
Now you need to look at what you have and what is missing, thinking primarily of the current season. If it is Summer, no point in worrying that you no longer have heavy jackets and jumpers, that can wait until it is indeed cold and wet.
Regardless of the season, I always find that long is best, long pants look far smarter than shorts and a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up is always a better look than a short sleeved shirt. Again, no need to rush out and purchase bulk outfits, looking at your edited wardrobe should tell you if you have any complete outfits and what you lack.
Do you lack pants, shirts or footwear? If this is the case, then go and make a few small purchases to plug the gaps. Just remember we are talking essentials at the moment, as your sense of style evolves you will add more items and no doubt retire many more too.
For many, you will be surprised to see that you still possess a complete wardrobe, this would suggest that you already dress well even though you are yet to fully develop your own personal style.
Do your research
Now comes the fun part, developing your unique style sense. I would suggest, if you haven't already, getting on social media, start following some style influencers, men's wear lines and bloggers, maybe subscribe to a men's fashion magazine (most are available in a digital e-format) and simply get a concept of current fashion trends.
I personally follow many of my favourite menswear stores/producers on social media such as Tarocash, Gordon Rush, Blazer, David Jones and Dapperscene. Magazines like GQ, The Journal and Men's Style are an invaluable source of style trends.
However the best source of information is from fashion influencers and bloggers such as The Stylish Man, The Sartorialist, Inspiration Style, The Art of Manliness and my personal favourites Gents Lounge and Blake Scott. Become (within reason) immersed in the world of men's fashion and gauge what you like.
One at a time
Your next step is to start with one purchase at a time and begin refining your look. There are two ways to approach what to start with, the first and most logical, is to identify an item of clothing you wish to upgrade.
I would recommend a larger statement piece such as a sports coat or shoes. Get a specific idea of what you are looking for, i.e. tan double monkstrap shoes and go and seek them out, don't rush the purchase, buy quality and shop around.
The second and less logical way is the way I went about things. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entitled Red Suede Shoes and a Blue velvet Jacket, my journey began with seeing a pair of red suede shoes in a store window.
I fell in love with them, but did not buy them at first, waiting about two weeks before doing so. In other words, you can start with an item you find that you cannot get out of your head and desire really badly. Of course I would recommend against pure impulse buying and suggest you allow yourself a cool down period before actually purchasing.
Once you have your first item that is a step up from your usual purchases, bit by bit start adding more. Making single, considered purchases is the key here. In my case I purchased my red shoes and next was the blue velvet jacket.
But I certainly was in no hurry to buy , buy , buy. You need time with each new item, time to wear them, see how you feel in them, gauge peoples responses and in essence get an idea of if they are part of your burgeoning personal style.
That old saying that "Clothes Maketh The Man" may have an element of truth to it but your sense of style should go beyond just your garments and footwear. Accessories play an important part and provide the perfect opportunity to individualize your look, whilst adding highlights of texture and/or colour.
Accessories include, ties, watches, jewellery and much more and I have discussed there use and impact in a previous two part post dedicated solely to their use, Accessories: Style items that add pop Pt1! and Accessories: Style items that add pop Pt2!
Lets too, not forget that your hairstyle is an vital part of your look, so once you begin to develop your sense of style with your attire, I would recommend talking with your Hairdresser about styles that may suit you better.
So how do I know if I'm on the right track?
The simple answer to this is that only you will know. Remember that this is your own personal style. If you like it, then ultimately it is right.
Of course it is always best to ask yourself a few questions every now and then. Do I look good? Do I feel good? Does what I'm wearing give me confidence? and perhaps most importantly, Do I feel like myself and comfortable? This is all about you, so it really is only your opinion that matters.
It is important to remember that style should also be an evolving creature. Fashions can change at an alarming rate and you will need to change with them. For instance the current sockless trend is likely to disappear within the next few years and anyone sporting the sockless look then will look quite ridiculous.
So keep up with your trends on social media. Other things to remember are style basics, buy quality items, ensure you have a good fit by getting your clothes altered to fit, look after your wardrobe by keeping your clothes ironed and your shoes polished. Ensure your outfit is clean and fresh and should it start to get a bit tatty, either replace it or get it repaired.
So I have discussed the easier and more basic accessories in part 1 of this blog post, so now it is time to step up your game. All the best dressed and most stylish men know how to incorporate the more advanced accessories into their look. These items are the ones that really add that pop of colour, that contrast of texture and most importantly allows you to express your individuality with the subtlety needed to remain stylish. Each and everyone one of these accessories, has the ability to step up your style game from smartly dressed to the sharpest dressed man in the room.
Aside from having your clothes tailored or at least altered to suit, very few subtle things can impact your style game as much as the advanced accessories. But beware, such items as these need to be worn with an editing mindset, in other words, its not just the actual items that create the impact but how you wear them. It is all too easy when first delving into using these types of accessories to go over the top and wear them all. This instantly takes you from stylish to try hard, a look that impresses no one. I speak from experience, as, like many who are delving into the world of accessories, I wanted to wear all my favourite new pieces at once. Remember, these really are the accent pieces.
So what type of pieces am I talking about? Well, there are larger pieces like hats and scarves, small pieces like tie bars and bracelets and those accessories like pocket squares that can be used to add vibrant pops of colour or contrast.
Hats. Like many of the advanced accessories, the wearing of hats by men can have the effect of having you look like a fool. Myself, I like to wear flatcaps with my casual dress and own a few different ones. I have lightweight ones suited better for the warmer summer months and thicker woolen ones that work well in winter. I have tried other hat styles but for the most part, I find that they don't suit me that well.
So lets look at some of the hat styles available without going into too much detail, or we will be here for days. I've already mention the Flat Cap which I feel to be so much classier than caps like Flat Caps, Golf Caps and Trucker Caps. They can be worn with smart casual attire and suits but pulling that look of can be difficult. The most well known of the wide brimmed hats are the Fedora,Trilby and Panama, there is also the more formal Homburg but this is rarely worn today. The Fedora and Trilby have become the hat of choice for many a 20 something festival goer, the result of which is the proliferation of cheap Fedoras everywhere. This in turn means that for the most part, wearing a Fedora or Trilby is associated more with 20 somethings and are no more considered stylish accessory for the 50 year old gent. However, a good quality or vintage Fedora can rise above the mediocrity and can be a great addition to your wardrobe. Add to the list styles like Western/Cowboy, Newsboy, Pork Pie and Stingy Brim and there is a vast array of styles to choose from. My advice though is to buy quality and try every hat on before buying, as you need to find a hat that suits you.
Scarves. Scarves are a wonderful way of adding both texture and colour to your outfit. Obviously the primary reason for scarves are warmth, but they can also be used to add an extra something to your attire. Scarves can be quite thick or very lightweight and may come in vibrant colours or neutral tones. As a general rule, choose scarves that do not have long tassels on the ends as they look more feminine. There is quite a few ways to wear a scarf, The blog Real Men Real Style has a wonderful infographic on tying a scarf. It is well worth checking out their blog.
Jewellery items. So what do I mean by Jewellery items? Well this includes things like rings,cuff links, tie bars, necklaces and bracelets. I myself at the moment, am not a big wearer of jewellery beyond bracelets, the last ring I wore was my wedding band.
Cuff links and Tie Bars, really only belong with a suit, I have both but rarely wear a suit. The things to remember with tie bars is to never wear a bar that is wider than your tie and that its main purpose is to pin your tie to your shirt.
Like all jewellery, rings and necklaces need to be worn using the KISS principle, do not over do it. The Mr T look was ridiculous in the 80's, so do not try to emulate it now. Think of the size and chunkiness of your jewellery pieces in comparison to your own size. A thick , chunky gold chain will look ridiculous on someone with finer features.
Bracelets. Bracelets are one of my favourite style accessories and come in a variety of styles both hard and soft. I will be honest here, I have not spent much money on my bracelets, there are many sites online where cheaper bracelets can be purchased. However, bare in mind that I am not going for a high end look of luxury. There is 4 types of bracelet that I wear and I will generally mix and match them. There are the softer Rope and Anchor/Hook, Braided Leather, Stainless Steel and finally Stone Beads. One point to keep in mind, is to not overload your wrist, a good rule of thumb would be to wear bracelets together no wider than your watch, if you are wearing a bracelet against your watch then keep your other wrist free.
Pocket Squares. Often referred to as hankies or handkerchiefs, pocket squares are small squares of material worn in the top pocket of your suit jacket or sports coat. I like them as they are very much an accessory you can have a lot of fun with. I purchase mine online for less than $10 each, often as little as $2. The only real rule would be to not wear a matching tie and pocket square set together, rather use your square as a contrast.There are many ways to fold a pocket square, some more formal than others, I myself push my finger up through the centre, then invert it so that all four corners are poking out of the top of my pocket( As can been seen in the photo in the pocket of the jacket on the right) . Once again Real Men Real Style have a wonderful infographic on folding pocket squares.
Wearing accessories can take confidence, do it well and nail your style and confidence will come naturally. Feel free to experiment and develop your own style. Start small, buying inexpensive pieces before you know fully what works for you, but most of all enjoy.
Using accessories to add pop to your outfit is a great way to personalise your attire. But knowing what accessories to wear, without going over the top can be tricky for a beginner. So what do I count as accessories? Well a good basic description would be your accent pieces. Think along the lines of the brightwork on a car, the chrome pieces certainly add to the look of the car without necessarily any other function, the same can be said for style accessories. Some are functional, whilst some are simply there to add subtle detail.
For many, the idea of adding accessories to your outfit may seem confronting, confusing or leave you feeling like a Christmas tree. But what if I was to tell you that in all likelihood, you have already worn accessories and that there is a good chance you are doing so now? A watch, a belt or a tie are among the most common of fashion accessories for men and I count them as the Basic Accessories. The ones that are a good starting point and are familiar and easy to use. A second group is the non wearables, which includes items like your wallet and phone. Items that a smart dresser never overlooks. So what then of the others, the more Advanced Accessories? These are the types of accessories that can make a huge difference to your style but must be worn with a less is more approach. These include, tie bars, cufflinks and pocket squares, items that used with restraint can turn a nicely dressed man into a Stylish and Sharp Dressed Man, (Cue the ZZ Top song. ) and will be discussed in Part 2 of this blog.
These are the accessories that you will already be familiar with and no doubt wear already. That doesn't mean that you can't step your game up a bit. Unlike the more advanced accessories, these basics can be worn at the same time. As a general rule these are everyday accessories, which means that you should have multiple options for each, at the very least, a casual and dressier option.
Watches. Watches are no longer the necessary timepiece they once were, our use of the smartphone has seen us use them as the most common way to know the time. Watches, whilst still a wonderfully usefully timepiece are often more of a style item now. (Although I do hesitate to include the ubiquitous fitness tracker as an item of style.) Watches of course come in a variety of styles and the prices can be the same as that of a family house. The world of watches is a complex one and best left for a latter blog. The rudimentary thing to remember with watches as style accessories is that they match your outfit. An informal fabric banded watch will not work with a suit just as a formal watch will look silly when worn with shorts and t-shirt at the beach. For this reason it is best to have at the very least, a formal and informal watch option. As you evolve your accessory and watch collection you will develop a feel for specific watches for specific situations.
Belts. Every man should have a variety of belts in their wardrobe. Much like watches their are formal and informal styles. A general rule of thumb is that formal belts have smaller buckles and tend to be narrower than casual belts. The finish on formal belts will be better too with the edges often stitched. There are other rules for wearing belts, match your belt to your shoes, this applies mostly to leather belts and shoes. A black belt with Brown shoes and vice versa is a definite style No-No and doing so will mark you out as someone with no dress sense whatsoever. Have a look at your pants, if there are belt loops, you must wear a belt to do otherwise will make any outfit look scruffy.
Belts come in a wide array of styles and materials, for the most part however there are 5 styles that should comprise your minimum collection of belts. Leather belts in both formal and casual styles in both Black and Brown and a casual canvas or woven belt. If however your need for formal belts is occasional at best, a good quality leather reversible belt can cover both black and brown. My advice is to buy quality leather belts, never skimp and be tempted to buy cheap vinyl or bonded leather belts, not only do they look cheap but will appear tatty and frayed after one or two wears. Look to spend between 50-80% of the price of a good pair of jeans and your belt will outlive all the pants in your wardrobe. The other thing to remember about leather belts, is to maintain them. A good quality leather treatment or polish regularly will keep them smart and fresh.
Socks. At the moment, socks ( or lack there of) are very much an on trend item. Socks are an interesting item to put in the Basics category. Loud socks with very bright colours can make a huge difference to your outfit, but are perhaps not for someone beginning to experiment with colours and style. My advice is to start with a more classic approach. The rule of thumb is to match your socks to your pants.This allows the lines of your footwear to not look deformed and the lines of your pants to flow. So this should be your default if you are unsure.
The current trend however is for more vibrant colours to act as a contrast between your shoes and pants. I would avoid novelty socks and stick with striped, argyle patterns or block colours. Novelty socks tend to look more juvenile and so not very becoming of someone in their fifties. Feel free to experiment but remember you are trying to look stylish and not look like Crusty the Clown.
Another trend at this point in time is the sockless look. A couple of points to keep in mind if you wish to try to pull this look off. Firstly, have a look at the cut of the pants you intend to be wearing, to achieve this look without looking ridiculous you need to have either skinny or slim cut pants. ( Personally, I think skinny cut looks ridiculous on most people anyway). If the diameter of your cuffs are too large then the sockless approach just looks sloppy. Secondly, keep hygiene matters in your mind, your feet will sweat and without your socks to absorb it, your shoes and feet will smell. There are a few ways to combat this. The best way in my opinion is to find invisible socks, socks that are so low cut that they cannot be seen when wearing shoes. Invisible socks come in a range of cuts and are not suitable for every shoe type. Another option is to rotate your shoes, if you have enough pairs of shoes to do so. For every day you wear a pair of shoes sockless, don't wear them for 2 or 3 days. The third option is to use foot powders or sprays to keep your shoes and feet smelling fresh.
Ties I myself rarely wear ties, I feel my lifestyle is more casual than the look that is reflected by wearing a tie. Having said as such, I do have some ties and wear them on occasions. So not being a tie expert, I will only briefly mention a few pieces of advice. The first thing is that ties go out of fashion, that tie you wore to a wedding 10 years ago will not do you any favours wearing it now. Stay away from those hideous novelty ties, as, much like socks, just make you seem immature. The last thing I will say is about quality, to the uninitiated a cheap tie looks OK, but to those in the know, they look cheap and nasty especially when paired with an expensive suit. A moderately priced off the rack suit or jacket can work with a moderately priced tie, but if you have invested in a quality suit or jacket its best to buy a similar quality tie.
I should also mention the bow tie. Yes a bow tie can be seen as a bold piece of attire. But, as an accent piece they can work very well. I have on a number of occasions worn a bow tie, but be mindful not to wear too many statement pieces at once, as it will come across as trying to hard and look rather silly. I will mention more about statement pieces in part 2 of the blog.
Sunglasses. Nothing says I don't really care about my appearance more than generic sunglasses bought when refueling your car. Look after a quality pair of sunnies and they will last a lifetime. Some Style bloggers will suggest that you have multiple pairs for different occasions, but as I wear prescription glasses, my sunglasses are a prescription pair and therefore a bit pricier it is not a school of thought I subscribe too. A quality pair of sunnies will certainly compliment your look.
The Non Wearables
For many, when talking about style accessories, the mind only thinks of items that are worn. However, ensuring that your non wearable accessories are up to scratch can make a big difference in your appearance. Remember, accessories are about the finer details and so if something seemingly minor is tatty, all the effort made becomes irrelevant.
Wallet. Your wallet is something that you will carry with you at all times and as such usually cops quite a beating. I myself, prefer the use of a micro wallet, in my case a small credit card sized aluminium wallet with an inbuilt money clip, called The Ridge Wallet. However, before I started to use a micro wallet I had two wallets. The idea being I had an everyday wallet which contained all my cards and money and was usually found bulging and misshapen( with loyalty cards not money) and a quality leather wallet that I used when going out. When heading out I would transfer my drivers license, credit card and cash to my "good" wallet, so as to keep a slim line appearance.
Mobile/Cell Phone. Another forgotten item that is usually in full view by all and sundry is your mobile phone. Again, I find the best approach is to have at least two cases for your phone. An everyday one and one that is used for better occasions. In fact I would recommend having a few options on hand dependent upon the occasion and what you are wearing. i.e. having a case that has a more formal appearance reserved for more formal occasions.
Another thing to add when it comes to your phone case is that many phone case incorporate slots to hold cards. So take your credit card and license out of your daily wallet , put them in your phone cover and use a money clip for your cash.
Keys. We all carry keys, be they car keys, house keys or both. Keys can be a really bulky item and keeping them in your pants pocket can result in an unattractive bulge. I myself use a metal key holder that has a much simpler and more stylish appearance. The thing to remember is that you are after a stylish and streamlined appearance, something that a loose set of keys will never be.
Grooming products for your face? Yes Guys, you need to establish a grooming regime and one that will at the very least incorporate these five essential products. By the age of 50, the signs of ageing will have started to become apparent, but I can assure you, that it is never too late to start a skincare routine.
In an ideal world we all would have started our routines in our early 20's, but for most of us, myself included, it was never exactly high on our list of priorities. We are all aware of the simple fact that our skin ages, this ageing process generally begins in our early 20's, a time in which our bodies slowly start a decrease in the natural production of things like Co-Enzyme Q10.
Having a few lines on your face at the age of 50, is not only to be expected but adds a certain amount of character and charm to our appearance, but a basic grooming routine enables us to slow down the degeneration of our skin, projects an air of someone who whilst comfortable with natural ageing, takes pride in himself , as well as makes us feel better about ourselves.
A couple of points before you raid your girlfriend's/wife's bathroom cabinet. The first thing to understand is that men's skin, differs from that of women. The first and most obvious difference is facial hair and our need for regular shaving.
However, as men, we produce more testosterone and this results in our skin being tougher and up to 25% thicker. So, rule number 1 is to use products designed for Men, the added bonus of course is that any fragrances used will be more masculine and wont leave you smelling like your Grandmothers garden.
The men's skincare Industry is growing exponentially and offers a great variety in both quality and pricing, but most women will tell you, don't automatically assume that the more expensive the product the better. Quite often the benefits of a product 5 times or even 10 times the price of another are so negligible that the value is simply not there.
Many of the products I myself use are what I shall call supermarket brands and as such are significantly cheaper in price than the high end brands. Of course you are free to spend as much as you wish, but if you are only starting your grooming regime, you may see the prices on some of the products and wonder how you can justify the expense and so simply give up on the idea of a skin care regime altogether.
The following product types are what I consider the basics,the products every man should be using. I will likely discuss additional products that I recommend using, in a future blog. But for now lets start with the basics, a starter pack if you will.
So lets begin with something that unless you posses a fully hirsute face, you will be familiar with. Shaving. I will begin by saying that I hate shaving, and generally only do so a couple of times a week. I can get away with this because one, I am single two, I quite like how I look with a few days growth and lastly, my job is not one whereby appearances are important.
I myself have sensitive skin and suffered for many years with regular and rather bad shaving rash. I would often have to apply a cortisone based cream just to eliminate the red raw rash and inflammation on my neck. This continued, until I discovered that using a shave oil, as well as a shave cream/gel provided the extra lubrication needed to eliminate shaving rash.
The issue with using a shave oil is that by its very nature it is oily. My neck was always oily, and my bathroom sink was always left with a thick oily residue, however as I no longer was suffering from an appalling shaving rash, I tolerated these inconveniences.
So what is the purpose of Shaving Cream/Gel? For the most part there are two tasks that it performs. The first is to hydrate the facial hair, which has the effect of softening it and therefore making it much easier for your razor to cut.
The second reason is to provide a cushion of lubrication to protect the skin against the friction of your razor blades. The end result is a closer and more comfortable shave,with less complications from shaving rash, ingrown hairs and infection.
With the exception of a few products on the market like shaving soap, this lubrication is done with either a shaving foam , a shave gel or a cream. All perform the same basic role and so it really does come down to a personal preference.
I personally prefer a gel as I find that the thick white foam does not allow me to see how well I'm shaving unlike the more transparent and thinner gels. After years of either shaving rash or oiled up bathroom sinks, I have discovered an Australian Premium Men's range that has a shaving gel that leaves me with no rash even without the use of oil.
Black Leopard Skin Boosting 2 in 1 Shave Gel Cleanser, is a premium product and so more expensive to buy than a supermarket brand, however I feel this to be one product where paying the extra for a premium product is worth it.
If you are anything like most men, you will either think using a Facial Cleanser is too girly or you have no idea at all what it is. A facial cleanser is exactly what it sounds like, a product specifically designed to clean your face.
So why use a specialist face cleaner rather than just soap? Well to be honest, you are better of removing that bar of soap all together, but for now I am talking about your face.
Part of your skins defense, is it's natural pH level of about 5.5. Which makes it slightly acidic, now regular soap is slightly alkali, which means using soap on your skin, especially your on face will change the pH level of your skin resulting in a neutral or worse still an alkaline pH, allowing bacteria and disease to take hold. We see the results of this with at best, minor blemishes and acne.
Your skin produces a natural oily substance called Sebum, which does a number of different things, it helps to maintain your skins pH, controls moisture flow both in and out of the skin, it aids in moisturizing your skin and it also acts as a protection against bacteria and disease. Soap however is too harsh a cleaner, ridding the skin of its Sebum.
Ironically, by riding your skin of this natural oil you are increasing the likelihood of blackheads and pimples. A Facial Cleanser on the other hand is pH balanced to match your skin and whilst it does a great job of eliminating dirt, grime and oils, it leaves behind an ideal amount of sebum, ensuring your skins natural defense is still intact.
Unlike my recommendation in Shave Gel, I have found the cheaper supermarket brands to be more than adequate and just as good as the premium branded cleansers. I have tried a number of different brands and including Primal Earth, Bulldog and Nivea Men.
Primal Earth is a New Zealand based company that produces a range of inexpensive Men's skincare products that use plant based ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals and artificial colours, they also proudly do not utilize animal testing.
Post Shave Balm
As a guy with sensitive skin, I know first hand the benefits of using a Post Shave Balm. However, don't get Post Shave Balms and Aftershave confused.
Aftershave is an alcohol based fragrance that will dry and inflame your skin whereas a Balm will soothe and moisturize your skin. Lets be honest, dragging a razor across your skin may well cut your facial hair but it aggravates your soft facial skin,leaving it exposed to bacteria and disease.
Most balms contain ingredients like Aloe Vera which helps to soothe and calm the skin as well as mild moisturizers and cleansers to clean and replenish your skins moisture levels. My sensitive skin has a tendency to flare up with shaving rash if I don't use a balm afterwards , even when using a great shave gel like Black Leopard.
Again my own experience has seen me using one of two products, Black Leopard After Shave Balm or the less expensive Nivea Post Shave Balm Sensitive.
Whilst the very act of shaving with a razor has an exfoliating effect, it is still recommended that we as men regularly exfoliate. Now it is important to note, that it is crucial that you use the correct type of product, that is a Facial Exfoliate designed for men.
You see that there are many exfoliates on the market that are designed for the body and hands, great products and the use of which I recommend, but not for your face. Exfoliates contain small sand like particles that act a bit like sand paper.
Products designed for the tougher skin on your hands and chest tend to contain larger particles often made from things like ground nut shells, whereas for your more delicate facial skin the particles are far smaller, smoother and much less abrasive. Think of them like car polish, instead of using a harsh Cut and Polish compound, use instead a light polishing cream. Both contain a fine grit but one is far more aggressive and damaging if used wrong.
Again, much like car polish, the job of an exfoliate is to remove dead skin cells ( or dead paint in the case of your car). By doing so, not only does your skin look fresher and healthier, but it is removing pore clogging dead skin and encourage new skin growth.
It is also important to note that this is not a daily routine, once or twice a week is all you need, any more than that and you risk doing damage to your skin. Because of its harsh nature, I would recommend buying a better quality product here, as they tend to contain a finer and smoother grit compound. A product like Black Leopard Hydrating Face Scrub is a good example of a premier quality scrub.
Some would say the key to maintaining your skins health and vitality is the daily use of moisturiser. Ideally you should be using 3 separate moisturisers, a moisturiser with a sunscreen after your morning shower, a heavier moisturiser at night before bed accompanied with an eye cream. The reality is most guys are not even going to consider doing that. I personally only use an eyecream and one type of facial moisturiser
A daily moisturising routine will obviously supply much needed moisture to your skin, the results of which are, smoother and softer skin, less obvious wrinkles and a slowing down of visible ageing. To be honest, you would be amazed at just how much better you will feel after a only a month or two, your face will feel less tight and you will look more alert. I can honestly say that you will be glad to add this to your daily routine.
As for what to get? first of all find a product you like, most cheaper moisturisers work primarily by using oils to prevent moisture loss, whereby most of the premiere products use ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera, which whilst expensive, help to draw moisture into the skin itself.
My moisturiser of choice is yet again a Black Leopard product. I do like their Anti Shine Moisturiser. However, I did not start out using it but began with a simple supermarket product. I found the Loreal Men's range to be quite good but like many moisturiser ranges there is quite a choice.
Moisturisers are often tailor made for differing skin types and ages. As a man rapidly approaching his 50's, look for products that say things like " age defying", it is not just marketing hype, but rather the products are designed with the differing needs of ageing skin.
The single most important thing to remember about moisturisers, is to use them on a daily basis, after washing your face with a good Facial Cleanser.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.