5 accessories that will make you look like a million bucks

Accessories can make or break an outfit. A perfect fit can be elevated simply by having one additional element of interest introduced by a well-chosen accessory. But on the other hand, accessories can ruin an otherwise fine fit by being overdone, ostentatious or in conflict with one another. “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Keep that advice from Coco Chanel in mind as I share five accessories that will, in the right contexts and done tastefully, make you look like a million bucks.

Okay, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Swiss, but it should be tastefully designed, and small. Giant diameters ruin what might be otherwise great watches these days. And unless you have Chris Hemsworth’s arms, they don’t really look at home on your wrist (though if you’ve got Chris Hemsworth arms, by all means, wear something proportionally small on your wrist!). When you’re wearing coat and tie, and want to look refined—whether it’s for a wedding, evening out with your significant other, or even just at the office—a small watch looks far more elegant. My personal favorites are Omega’s from the 1960s. My brother generously bought me a 1966 DeVille for my 30th birthday last year, with an off-white face that comes in at 34.5mm across. It’s magnificent.

I realize calling a product meaningful sounds like the worst marketing language, but I only say that because the guys wearing bracelets well are those doing it for a reason and not just because it’s the cool thing to do. When done well, a bracelet communicates a sense of refinement that no other accessory does in exactly the same way (when done poorly, it usually communicates that the wearer is trying too hard).

The ideal bracelet can lend style to an outfit because it’s carefully chosen, and the wearer knows when to wear it. I don’t typically wear a bracelet, but my dad does—and he absolutely nails it. He owns a couple, though one is far and away my favorite; it’s a heavy, solid sterling silver piece with decorative Navajo carvings made by Darin Bill. My dad has loved New Mexico since he was a boy, and Navajo blankets, art, and jewelry have been mainstays for decades in my family. I’d borrow it from time to time, but my wrists are much smaller than his.

Years ago I got a fairly inexpensive belt in snuff suede from Meermin and it changed my life. It sounds like a hyperbole, but seriously, suede as a belt material was a revelation to me. I wear that belt 90% of the time to this day. It looks particularly great with white pants and denim, but I’ll wear it with wool trousers as well. It doesn’t have to be suede, but a belt in a subtly different texture can bring your outfit together in a way you might not immediately think of. Something like alligator leather can improve a dressier fit, while canvas looks great with madras in the summer.

Brooks BrothersGustav Von Aschenbach

Besides just the belt material itself, you can also look for a cool buckle. For instance, I’ve always liked machined flat plaque buckles on a narrow dress belt—they feel very mid-century, and they make me think of my grandpa. I have no meaningful memories of him because he died when I was young, but I know, from what my dad has told me, that he was a very skilled craftsman. He had a fine attention to detail as well as a penchant for design, which he put to use making all kinds of things, usually with a strong mid-century aesthetic. A narrow belt with a machined buckle feels like something he’d have worn—and possibly even made himself.

Sid Mashburn – Tiffany&Co.

This is a super basic pick, but it’s an impeccable choice that really does improve a navy or gray suit. As pocket squares have gone mainstream, many men have been led astray into thinking the more gaudy, loud, bright and matchy, the better. In response, stylish men and forum members have sworn off squares all together. But even those most grieved by the over-saturation of pocket square culture still wear the white TV fold. It’s because it’s a stylish detail that’s not ostentatious. Mine is from J.Crew; it was a gift, and it is monogrammed.

If you’re looking at ways to fold your pocket square perfectly, check out Peter’s guide to folding a pocket square.

J. CrewKent Wang

Not a visible accessory most of the time, but when it is, it ups your class factor by a zillion. The things most men carry around to house their cards and cash are abysmal, awful, ugly, and thick. Don’t be like that. When you pull your wallet out of your breast pocket, a slim card case (or I suppose, a breast pocket wallet if you use bills regularly) makes for a nice indication of your appreciation for elegance—even if it’s not seen by most. It is slim enough that it doesn’t show if your jacket is more fitted in the chest. And even if you don’t have a jacket on it won’t make too big a bulge in your front pants pocket.

La Portegna – Salvatore FerragamoWant Les Essentiel

Choosing Leather Gloves

If you’re wondering how to pick out a pair leather gloves this fall, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The Glove (note the capitalization) has become a necessary element of the #menswear wardrobe, and no one at Pitti would be caught dead without them – I imagine that’s true even during the summertime. But it’s likely that you’ll be doing more than just posing on the Pitti Wall this fall and winter, so take some time to think about what best fits your needs.

The first step is to determine when and where you’ll be wearing your gloves. This may come as a shock, but not everyone lounges around looking cool and doing nothing with gloves stuffed into their overcoat pocket as a purely aesthetic accessory. If you’re outside 3 hours a day, you’ll probably want something soft and warm. If you’re only “outside” in the garage, getting in and out of your car, you probably don’t want or need something with a thick lining.

Same goes for the temperature: if you live in a temperate climate, you probably don’t need shearling gloves. If you live in Maine, you probably do. And if you live in a 4-season location, having a couple of pairs of gloves can mean comfy hands for almost half the year. I start wearing mine around November, because even if it’s still warm during the day, I ride a bicycle regularly and chilly mornings mean that my hands go numb.  With that said, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep your fingly-dinglies nice and toasty.

  1. Unlined Leather Gloves

    Pros: These are ideal when it’s not too cold out, or when you’re looking for a pair of gloves to wear when you’re driving. I dislike driving in thick gloves, especially when driving a manual, as it does become harder to operate nobs and switches and even gear-levers. Otherwise, an unlined glove – especially a driving glove – is a fantastic look that can work with most casual or tailored outfits. In addition, I find that these lighter-weight accessories really lend themselves to interesting colors, which means that if you want driving gloves in British racing green you should absolutely get yourself some.

    Cons: Obviously, they’re not as warm as a lined glove. In addition, you have to be a bit more mindful of fit, as you want the leather to fit close to the hand for maximum feel. Having a too-large unlined glove feels bad, whereas you can often get away with a less exact fit when wearing a lined glove. In addition, if the glove is of poor quality, the seems inside may bother your hands. And finally, you simply may not enjoy the feel of unlined leather, which can occasionally make your hands feel clammy.

     

  2. Lined Leather Gloves


    Pros: Depending on the lining, these gloves can either be pleasantly warm or fireplace-hot. Linings come in various forms and materials, so make sure you know what you’re getting. The three most common varieties are leather gloves that have been lined with a knit or woven fabric or wool, cashmere, or a blend of some kind; gloves lined in soft fur, and shearling gloves.

     

    1. Fabric-lined gloves are thinner but still warm, but I have had linings tear in the past, meaning they’re not exactly fit for yard work. That’s probably not why you’re buying them, but still – it pays to do your homework
    2. Fur-lined gloves are incredibly luxurious, soft, and warm – but they tend to be thicker, making them less fit for driving, and they can also be quite fragile if you’re using your hands for anything but carrying a briefcase. Fur can and will wear out over time, and while a pair of nice gloves will certainly last you a long while, you might want to take care that you’re not shoveling snow in your nicest pair.
    3. Shearling gloves are perhaps the warmest and most resilient, but also the thickest. In addition, take care that the “shearling” gloves you’re buying aren’t just lined in knit sheepswool. While shearling gloves will wear out over time (imagine your favorite pair of sheepskin slippers), they’re generally long-lasting and tough-wearing, and a bit more casual in appearance than the first two options.

Cons: Well, lined gloves are warm. That might not be what you want. And the thicker the glove, the more difficult it is to use your fingers precisely. Operating zippers and closing buttons becomes mildly more difficult, but if it’s really cold out, a lined glove – especially fur-lined or shearling – is hard to go without.

Finally, in my experience it’s worth it to spend a bit more on a pair you like. You’ll find passable examples at the mall, but they’ll run you 80-120$ anyway, and stepping up to a pair of fine gloves will make you a happy camper. Not only will you get access to more comfortable and resilient hides and linings, but nice gloves have an heirloom feel to them. Once a favorite pair is properly broken in, they feel like a second skin.

 

Cheers, Brexit: Save on Fine British Accessories

With the British pound at a historic low against the dollar, American shoppers can finally indulge in guilt-free purchases of fine British accessories by treating themselves to some exquisite items from the land of Her Majesty.  It’s even sweeter if you think that a recent change in tariff regulations now allows buyers to spend up to $800 each day without paying duty on products shipped from abroad.

In case you’re short of inspiration, here’s a shortlist of some of the best and finest British goods that will instantly make you look like a distant, distinguished, cousin of the Prince of Wales.

ettinger-billfold-wallet-red-lining

Available at https://www.ettinger.co.uk/

#1 An Ettinger Billfold Wallet

Instantly up your style with one of Ettinger’s classic billfolds. Lined in contrasting leather, you can choose to have 3, 6, or 12 credit card slots, a coin purse, and even opt for silver or gold corners to protect your precious pocketbook from wear and tear. Pretend to not notice all the glances of admiration as you pull it out to pay for your next coffee with the money you saved from the weakened pound.


Available at http://www.purdey.com/

Available at http://www.purdey.com/

#2 A Classic Outerwear Piece from Purdey

If a Burberry trenchcoat seems way too clichè nowadays, you can class up your wardrobe with one of Purdey’s stunning outerwear pieces. The highlight of the collection is a luxurious leather quilted paddock coat (a type of traditional hunting or sporting coat used in the UK) that is both lightweight and warm.


Available at http://www.swaineadeneybrigg.com/

Available at http://www.swaineadeneybrigg.com/

#3 Briefcase & Umbrella by Swaine Adeney Brigg

It would be a shame to buy one without the other. Brigg’s handmade umbrellas are famous worldwide, and it’s not uncommon to see their signature polished chestnut handles hanging on royal arms.

Swaine Adeney briefcases are a monument to British craftsmansip. If you feel like being a touch more adventurous, choose their Attache case: originally commissioned as a Diplomat’s case in the 1800s, this model has been made since then using the same, ancient process that involves hand stitching with natural linen thread.


Available at http://turnbullandasser.com/

Available at http://turnbullandasser.com/

#4 A classic shirt from Turnbull and Asser

There will never be a better time to stock up on elegant white shirts, perhaps the one item that everyone can agree is a classic and timeless staple of a man’s wardrobe. Like a blank canvas, a white shirt is the starting point of any outfit. Each T&A shirt is made in Gloucester using hand-operated sewing machines from 33 individual pieces of high-quality cotton, making it a covetable piece for any classic menswear obsessives and fashion aficionados alike. Make sure to splurge on some Sea Island Cotton if you only want the best of the best.


Available at http://www.equusleather.co.uk/

Available at http://www.equusleather.co.uk/

#5 A bridle leather belt from Equus

Equus has been a longtime forum favorite, and since you no longer have to tighten the belt on your finances when shopping – thanks to the current state of sterling – you can proudly tighten a new, handmade leather belt on your waist instead. Equus specializes in bridle leather belts using leather from venerable English tanneries Sedgewick and Bakers of Coylton, but recently have been producing belts using leather from European tanneries like France’s Tannerie Haas. They also use buckles specially commissioned from French silver and goldsmiths and Japanese master blacksmiths.


Available at https://www.drakes.com/

Available at https://www.drakes.com/

#6 Anything from Drake’s

Drake’s website is a cornucopia of goods that would tempt anyone who’s into classic clothing. Styleforum members have a soft spot for Drake’s accessories, and swear by their handmade ties and archival-printed pocket squares. We have it on good authority that our editor Jasper has a thing for the unicorns.  Load up on Christmas presents and upgrade to high class stocking-stuffers.

Attainable style with the Knottery.

One of the benefits of the recent boom in interest men’s clothing has been the sprouting of grassroots companies that fulfill the niche-y desires of hobbyists—Styleforum favorite Howard Yount, for example, or startup the Knottery, which launched last summer. Based in Brooklyn, the Knottery is run by friends Jay Arem and Jack Fischman, who make limited runs of men’s accessories: ties, pocket squares, and belts among them. Overwhelmingly, their items are well-made and often infused with a humor that cuts the potential mustiness of the men’s furnishings business.

Cable knit wool tie from the Knottery (“The Watercarrier”).

Tempted by the low prices the Knottery offers (ties start at $25; less than the sale price of most fine neckwear), I picked up a couple of wool models last fall, a square-ended cable knit tie in navy and a tweedy, point-ended model with a chambray keeper. The ties knot well and are nicely proportioned—most are 3 inches at the widest, some knits a little narrower. The company does not intend to compete with the neckwear you’ll find in the salons of Napoli that Derek has been covering; rather they offer “affordable style for the initiated; attainable style to the beginner.” To me that’s a worthwhile niche to fill.

I spoke with Jay about getting the Knottery off the ground, and what he and Jack have in store.

Pete Anderson: How did you first get into the business of men’s accessories?

Jay Arem: I had been an avid internet style blog reader for the last few years. I had been working as a manager of a branch of an energy company, and always wanted to do something more creative, but couldn’t find my platform. I had originally wanted to blog, but after many nights staring at the blinking cursor on a blank word document, I realized that it wasn’t gonna work. The accessory business idea started as a joke between me and my now-partner, then-friend Jack after a movie one night. He had been involved in a bunch of different e-commerce ventures in the past but never retail or “fashion.” I made a crude mockup of a site on PowerPoint and emailed him the next day. We agreed to each invest $500 and in the worst case have a bunch of ties to give out as gifts for the rest of our lives.

PA: When exactly did you launch? The Knottery is well past worst case now—you stock ties, pocket squares, lapel flair, and small leather goods. What’s been the most interesting stuff to source?

JA: We went live in June 2011. We have fun every day. Each item presents its own challenge to source. Jack and I both share an interest in production, fabrication, and the sort. While the internet does offer many opportunities to find sourcing for a plethora of items, it remains difficult to find manufacturers of specific items.

PA: Was it truly a from-scratch operation, starting up? Did you have relationships that you could take advantage of at the start, as far as manufacturing, design, etc.?

JA: The whole thing began as a hobby. The website was hard-coded on a per hour basis by freelancers from that original mock-up. The designing was all from scratch. We had a few leads for overseas manufacturing from some of Jack’s other dealings to start out.

PA: The ties you guys carry are interesting–they rely a lot on knits, non-silk fabrics, and texture. Where do you think you get your design sense/aesthetic taste?

JA: It kind of came about from two separate directions: One, we began with fabrics that we could source at lower quantities, not going the standard route of buying direct from silk mills.  Two, we wanted to make ties that we would own and wear. As two guys who have “dressed up” every day for the better part of the last decade, our aesthetic leans toward the dressed up casual look.

PA: That look  seems to be pretty on-trend with a lot of men’s clothing right now: suits and ties for men who choose to wear them, rather than men trying only to meet the minimum requirements of a dress code.  Regarding your fabric choices and sources, is working outside what may be the standard business model for makers–e.g., not buying from silk mills directly–a method you plan on continuing, or was it more a matter of necessity?

JA: A bit of both. It also allowed/forced us into pushing the boundaries of conventional fabric sourcing. One of our first ties were made from an Etsy purchase I had sitting in my closet for about a year. On the other hand we also want to produce some “regular” ties and therefore buy some materials from mills, such as a grenadine we are in the middle of perfecting.

PA: I assume that Etsy fabric made for a small run. How many ties do you usually do per design? Can you tell us a little about construction of the Knottery ties?

JA: We do 50-100 per style usually. Construction, because of the unconventional nature of some of our fabrics we have played and experimented with different linings each time. We continually strive to achieve and are constantly learning more about what makes a tie great. We have sewn many a tie sample ourselves to test out different linings and silhouette dimensions pre-production. Currently most of our ties are lined and self tipped (when possible).

PA: Regarding construction–are your ties all made in one place, or is it sort of make-em-where-it-makes-sense? There’s a great “brewery” based in Maryland called Stillwater that is really just a guy who makes beer at various breweries, depending on what he wants to make and what capabilities he needs.

Also, the Knottery’s non-knottable goods–how did the belts, lapel flowers, and eyeglass “chains” come about?

JA: We use three different factories, depending on the item. The other categories were just a natural extension of what we were doing. Our mission statement has become: “if we want it, let’s try to make it.” That is why we have a cap coming in in the next week or so [eds note: a collaboration with Fairends].

PA: How has reception to the Knottery’s stuff been? To what do you attribute success so far?

JA: We have gotten great feedback. We love what we do and some of the best parts of all this have been meeting people who have similar passions, getting emails from different people just wanting to say hello or make a suggestion.

PA: I should follow up on the production question—one of my ties is marked “Made in USA”—are the factories all in the states?  The ties I’ve seen from you are, in my opinion, very good value, as I bought them for $25. Your current tie prices sell for $25 to $35, and made-in-USA belts all under $70. Do you expect to be able to keep retail prices low as you grow?

JA: We use a factory in China for some of our ties. We use this factory because frankly it wasn’t possible to achieve certain ties at the price points where we needed to be. We are all for Made in the USA , but we put quality and affordability before country of origin.

We hope to continue keeping our prices the same or close to what they are.

PA: I think shoppers appreciate honesty as far as country of origin goes, although made-in-Italy and made-in-USA, among others, will always carry value. One last question—there’s a winking humor in much of what the Knottery does: from your web copy to your designs, including the dub-monk club tie. Where does that come from?

JA: We wholeheartedly agree about the origin carrying value, and continually search for more avenues of U.S. production.

The humor is a natural representation of our brand because its a natural representation of Jack and me as friends. Our daily goal is to outwit one another. For the sake of this interview, I usually am the winner.

Thanks Jay!

Visit the Knottery, or contact them at info@theknottery.com.

My tweed tie from the Knottery.

Cable knit detail on The Watercarrier tie.

 

Tweed tie with chambray keeper.

 

Shopping Rome: Battistoni

In the version of Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley , the two main characters, Dickie Greenleaf and Tom Ripley, are shown riding a train from Naples to Rome. Dickie thinks Tom should get a new jacket, as he’s always wearing the same one. “Let me buy you a jacket,” Dickie says. “When we get to Rome, there’s a great place. Battistoni . “He then proceeds to sing” Roma, we’re taking Tom to Roma! “As Tom smiles out of the side of His mouth and softly repeats the name, Battistoni , like it was some magical place.

The entrance to Battiston in Via Condotti, Rome.

Indeed, Battistoni is enchanting. The shop opened in 1946, right before the Continental look took off in the 50s and 60s. It was during this time That Rome-not Milan or Naples-was seen as the center of Italian fashion. The city’s style and architecture was shown off through Italian film (directors such as De Sica, Fellini and Antonioni, to name a few), and many foreigners felt safer since visiting Italy That had become a republic. Some of These foreigners were American movie stars, like Gary Cooper and Douglas Fairbanks, who would come to the capital to get Their custom made suits and silk pajamas. And as we all know of That period, where America’s cinematic royalty went, much of the public Followed.

Guglielmo Battistoni with Marlon Brando. Brando made motorcycle jackets and denim look good, but he could make Also with the silk neck.

During this time, many of These figures visited Battistoni. The shop was more of a salon than a showroom, however. The wood-paneled walls, marble floors, and fine art lent to rarified air, and some of world’s most interesting men would come here to share ideas and gossip while they picked out ties and got measured. Artists such as Marc Chagall, for example, would rub elbows with literary men such as John Steinbeck, and the Duke of Windsor and Gianni Agnelli were Also known to stop by. Marlon Brando one day even arm-wrestled the store’s founder, Guglielmo Battistoni, just for fun (Brando won). Humphrey Bogart came Often know That he asked if he could leave a bottle of whiskey for himself here. This salon culture has somewhat disappeared in the modern age, but on a recent visit, the space still felt more like a gentleman’s social club than a store.

A clubby interior at Battistoni.

In addition to the atmosphere, the store has an impressive range of finely tailored goods. Battistoni is perhaps most famous Their shirts. After all, the founder, Signore Guglielmo, was an esteemed shirt makers. He made collar points slightly longer and larger, narrower side seams, and high armholes. Everything was hand finished, but fit very cleanly. Today, prices for custom shirts start around $ 500. They also have made-to-measure suits That begin at $ 2,750, and ready-to-wear suits for $ 1,850. *

Then there are the non-tailored goods. For example, they have a selection of Italian-made Inglese-style shoes for about $ 550. These are made with beautiful, dark brown, fine grained leathers and stitched together using a Goodyear machine. There is Also a room full of one-to four-ply cashmere knits ranging between $ 475 and $ 1,000, Depending on the style and construction. Whether v-necks, Crewnecks, or cardigans, These were all incredibly soft and well finished. In the adjacent room, you can find a variety of belts (including some beautifully rich crocodile skins) and a range of outerwear jackets and coats. One of the navy field jackets was Particularly impressive to me. The shell was made with a smooth microfiber and finished with dark horn buttons. The lining was pure cashmere, and there was a removable cashmere vest, Which you could zip in for colder months. Price On That was about $ 2,250.

Field jacket at Battistoni.

Ties at Battistoni.

More Battistonian silks.

Some of the best items in the store are the ties. The silks feature unique application prints, Which means they have crisper edges than Their British counterparts, and the cashmeres have a very nice, soft hand. Both are made with soft interlining, so they knot and drape beautifully. Silks start at $ 145 and $ 190 at cashmeres. I could not possibly resist leaving without one, so I picked up the red tie you see above. Looking back, I wish I had taken the blue tie with white print as well.

Today, Signore Guglielmo’s children, Gianni and Simonetta, manage the store. Both have kept the store exactly as Their father left it, tucked away in a courtyard off of Via Condotti. It’s a store of good taste immeasurably, and a must-visit for anyone in Rome.

The director of The Bicycle Thief Vittorio De Sica-less in the gritty setting of Battistoni.

* Note That All prices in this article include VAT. If you’re a non-EU customer, you can deduct 20%.

Battistoni
Via Condotti 61A
00187 Rome Italy

T: 06/6976111
info@battistoni.com

Want les Essentiels de la Vie.

Want les Essentiels de la Vie wants you to travel in comfort and style. Their accessories are neither over nor underdesigned, with helpful details where you want them but without utilitarian excesses. Want chooses to be excessive instead with luxury materials and construction.  At Pitti, Dexter Peart showed me what Want has planned for their imagined customer, a long-distance commuter with a penchant for technology, travel, and design.

Their current leitmotif is duality. Many of their standard models are mixing fabrications, and their recurring design touch is in their zips, which are half silver toned and half gold.  The O’Hare tote, an evergreen model, is in Italian waxed cotton with trim in their organic cotton.  Other bags use suede as the context for a calf leather, as in pocket that’s a perfect fit for an iPad–not a rare feature in bags these days, but thoughtfully integrated here rather than tacked on. Elsewhere, caviar leather (stingray) shows up in small leather goods. A fully reversible bag has been made with a double-faced wool blend: one side is gray, one is blue. Want has also made a slipper ideal for air travel: it collapses nearly flat and zips closed. Gray wool matches with cognac leather, and black with black.

At the show all the samples were displayed on collapsible displays of honeycombed kraft paper, topped with sweatshirt gray felt discs. Want is a Canadian operation, and Dexter explained it was some Canadian camaraderie that led them to use furniture from Vancouver’s Molo Design. One stool held a special made-in-Japan executive set, another held their new made-in-Naples gloves in cashmere-lined suede and leather, again with a Want gold/silver zip, and bracelets from a make near Milan. Their manufacturing is diverse–leather bags are made in Italy, some smaller goods in China, and some in Japan. That’s not surprising given the global scale of Want’s reach.

Reversible tote from Want.

Nicest gym bag I've ever seen.

Gym bag detail.

Silver/gold zip on a canvas bag.

Travel slipper in gray/cognac.

Japan-made executive suite.

Gloves and small leather goods.

O'Hare tote in slate green cotton.