The art of style is not found in an expensive suit or sport coat, but the way your attitude and accessories complement the clothes you wear. This is the main ingredient in personal style. The tie you choose says more about your personality than you think. Your watch speaks volumes about the life you lead. Imagine what could be said about a gentleman who chooses not to wear a watch at all.
Here is a crash course on the soul of accessorizing, which is essentially the heart of the anatomy of style. For starters, unless you are the most eccentric cat on the boulevard, don't overdo it. Subtlety is truly the key. The tie enhances the shirt, the sock complements the shoes, and your belt and shoes should be first cousins (in the same color family).
Regardless of your personality, there are three categories of style that you will fall within. Only the most unconventional chap will stand outside the following categories as a true style connoisseur:
The Dapper Don: This guy is always neat and everything is in place. Often wears accessories like a pocket square or cufflinks. He wears his clothes well and with ease.
The Conservative Cat: This guy either doesn't want his clothing to overshadow his ego or doesn't like too much attention. He dresses well and appreciates quality fabrics and tailoring, but will not bother accessorizing his outfit.
The Simple Sam: This guy doesn't know, doesn't show, and downright doesn't care what he wears. He can often be quoted as saying "Clothes don't make the man". This poor soul doesn't know any better. His style is not worth mentioning, but often can clean up well with a bit of effort.
If you feel you do not fit into one of the categories, think again. Regardless of your nature, here is the express route to enhancing your wardrobe and supercharging your style without buying a big ticket item like a suit, shoes or overcoat. Let's start from the bottom up.
Socks (a.k.a. hosiery in finer men's shops) serve many different purposes, one being to keep the feet warm, so always choose the appropriate thickness in accordance to the weather. The simple rule of thumb (or in this case, big toe) is, your socks should coordinate with either your shoes or trousers, but not both. Once you understand this basic rule, now you can have fun. Finding unique hosiery should be an ongoing venture, whether traveling or shopping for other garments. Always shop in the hosiery section to find a unique pair that can be added to your current wardrobe. Your socks can easily become a conversation piece and show a different side of your style and personality.
A belt also has a very simple rule: it should color-coordinate with your shoes. The beauty of this rule is you can explore many different kinds of skins, from a simple calfskin to an exotic alligator or snake. Once you have chosen the skin you prefer to sport, consider the best place to wear it. Alligator skin, for example, is probably a bit over the top for everyday wear, although some snake skin belts are very fine and can be worn daily with a suit.
A tie varies in size, width, fabric, and patterns so there is no limit to what you can do, but there are rules to this important piece as well. Once you get past some basics, like not pairing stripes with polka dots, or creating dizzy patterns with a vertically striped shirt and horizontal stripes on the tie, you can have some fun. The new rule of thumb is to let the tie speak for the shirt. So, if you are a modern, stylish fellow who wears patterns and blue shirts as opposed to the basic white collar of days gone by, then you can really explore new ideas and options with your shirt/tie combination. For example, if you have a windowpane shirt in blue with red lines, find a tie that complements the red lines in the shirt, not a tie that matches the blue shirt itself. By accentuating the detail in the shirt, not the shirt itself, your tie will bring out the subtlety of your style. Regardless of the suit color, your shirt and tie should be able to stand alone when you remove your jacket.
Silk scarves are reserved for the most dapperly of the dappers. This is the one accessory that can single-handedly transform your outfit from informal to formal in a snap. As with your socks, you want to find the most unique silk scarf you can find. This piece does not need to coordinate with any other garment you are wearing because the entire purpose of the scarf is to stand out. There is a difference between an everyday scarf and one you might wear to a formal event, but you'll be able to discern the difference once you start browsing the men's boutiques.
Don't be afraid to explore these fashion tips. Next time you spot a men's shop or find yourself in a fine department store, check out the scarves, socks and belts and think about how you can incorporate them into your wardrobe. You will find that any one of these accessories, chosen correctly, can make a five year old suit look brand new and make you feel like a style superstar. Now go and make us proud, Sam!