Monthly Archives: February 2012

Accessories for Men Are in the News

I recently read a New York Times article about how consumers have started to buy more and more accessories now that the worst part of the recession is over. (You can take a look at it here.) The surprising thing about this article is that it doesn’t focus on female shoppers. Instead, it’s about men!

As an image consultant who has worked with numerous male clients, I found myself nodding as I read about how men are using various accessories to distinguish and pull together their outfits. When I’m working with men, I always stress that the little details have a huge impact on how you look and how you are perceived.

With that in mind, here are some accessories I recommend all men pay careful attention to:

Ties. Ties are an accessory that many men love to hate. But even if you’re one of those guys who wear ties only when it’s absolutely necessary, you should still put some thought into what looks nice. Avoid safe, boring, or dated ties—I call them “nothing” ties because they bring nothing exciting to your outfit and say nothing about you. It’s fine to choose bold or rich colors, especially since they can set you apart and function as a tasteful statement piece. If you’re looking for inspiration, Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News is a good example of a man who gets it right. He consistently succeeds in wearing interesting ties that match his suits well and are still appropriate in a conservative setting. When making your own choices, take a page from his book and always make sure that your tie blends with your shirt and suit color! If you’re unsure as to what might coordinate with your suit while flattering you in particular, ask a friend, salesperson, or image consultant for advice.

Glasses. If you have less-than-perfect vision and haven’t opted for contact lenses, chances are you wear your glasses every single day. And since they’re one of your most-used accessories, it’s worth your time and money to invest in a pair that looks good on you. When I’m working with clients, I recommend plastic or metal frames because they give the wearer a much more modern look than a wireless rim would. Plus, a more substantial frame gives definition to your face. Once you have found a pair of flattering frames and have become comfortable wearing them, consider adding a second pair to your collection for a little more variety! And, as you would with any other piece of clothing, work with the sales consultant to make sure that the color and shape of the frames flatter your coloring and the shape of your face.

Cuff links. Cuff links are one of those suit elements that fall into the “optional” category. If you already wear cuff links or like the way they look and want to incorporate them into your wardrobe in the near future, one of my cardinal rules of accessorizing definitely applies: Make sure that what you are wearing coordinates with the rest of your outfit! Gold or silver cuff links are a classic choice, but it’s also fine to add a little personality to your look with color or fun shapes.

Shoes. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your shoes are less important than the rest of your clothing! If your footwear is noticeably old, worn, or scuffed, it can cancel out the effects of an otherwise put-together outfit. Like women, men have an ever-increasing amount of styles to choose from. I suggest investing in a medium-to-light brown pair of loafers for casual wear, and either brown or black dress shoes to wear with your suit. Depending on your career, you might also consider a pair of leather lace-ups so that you can alternate your look!

Socks. The same principle applies to socks as shoes: Don’t assume that they don’t matter! Especially in more formal situations, be sure to wear a sock that is either the same color as your suit or the color of the shoe you are wearing. Also, do a “test-sit” before you leave the house to make sure that your sock is the right height. Your leg should not be exposed when you sit, even if you cross your legs.

Belts. Even if you don’t habitually wear suits, you should still own at least one nice belt in the best-quality leather you can afford. A classy belt is definitely an investment piece! Choose from crocodile, black leather, and/or brown leather. I advise my male clients that a wider belt (a minimum of 1.25 inches) will give you a modern, stylish look regardless of your size or height.

Scarves. Some men see scarves as a true accessory: something with which to embellish their outfits. Others see scarves as something that’s purely functional: something to keep their necks warm when it’s cold outside. Whichever group you fall into, remember that scarves are an important element of your overall look. Make sure that yours coordinates properly with the raincoat or overcoat you’re wearing!

The Things You Carry. Most accessories are things you wear, but men should put some thought into what they carry, too, since these things still contribute to their overall images. First, if you need to carry more than can comfortably fit in your pocket, invest in a nice leather briefcase or messenger bag. Unless you are a student, it’s time to leave canvas backpacks behind. Also pay attention to the umbrella you’re carrying when it rains. You don’t want to walk into a meeting with a brightly colored umbrella or one that is ratty and on the verge of falling apart at the next gust of wind. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable umbrella options in classic colors.

In fashion, as in most areas of life, “the devil is in the details,” as the old saying goes. When you pay attention to the accessories you’re buying and wearing, all of these seemingly small things will add up to a solid, put-together image and a great first impression!




A Closet Full of Clothes (and Nothing to Wear): How to Fall Back in Love with Your Wardrobe

Maybe it happened because you just can’t resist a bargain, so you regularly come home with shopping bags crammed full of 85-percent-off clearance items. Maybe shopping is your go-to stress reliever after a tough day at work. Or perhaps you just don’t want to get rid of any old garments because you think you might need them again. Whatever the reason, your closet is so jam-packed with pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, and more that you can’t even move things from left to right…but when it comes time to choose an outfit each morning, you don’t really want to wear any of it.

If any of this sounds familiar, relax. You’re normal. At some point or another, I think that almost all women deal with the “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear” problem. (In fact, that’s why many of my clients first get in touch with me!) The good news is, if digging through all of that mess in order to put together a matching outfit makes you crazy, there are some specific things you can do to make your wardrobe less wieldy and more wearable. Here are four steps I recommend taking if you’re ready to break the nothing-right-to-wear cycle:

First, sort what you have. If you’re at your wits’ end, chances are your closet is so cluttered and disorganized that you aren’t really familiar with each piece of its contents. That’s why I recommend taking everything off the rack. First of all, you’ll be able to clearly see if you have an overabundance of a certain color tee, for example, or too many pairs of black pants. Plus, as you consider each piece of clothing, you’ll be forced to consider how much you actually like it. Be sure to try on everything and evaluate each item based on whether or not you would purchase it again today. If the answer is “yes,” that piece is a keeper.

If you think you might not have a clear sense of what looks good on you or would simply like an outside opinion, ask a friend who’ll be honest to assist you in eliminating things that don’t fit, don’t flatter you, are too worn, or don’t match your lifestyle. And don’t hold on to something just because you spent a lot of money on it. Yes, I’ll admit that it can be tough to get rid of an expensive item, but if it is no longer an asset to your wardrobe, it has lost its value for you. Be sure to set aside clothes that you want to keep but need alterations and clothes that are no longer appropriate for you but that can be donated.

Next, organize what’s left. After you have discarded everything that is no longer an asset, organize what’s left. First, re-hang everything you’ve kept, grouping pieces in order of color or prints. You’ll immediately feel more peaceful when you walk into your closet, and you’ll also have a better grasp on your wardrobe. Specifically, I’d recommend using this newfound “clothing clarity” to make a list of what you need to complete the outfits you already have. These pieces will probably be very simple things: the right underpinnings, jewelry, a new black skirt or base-color pant, for example, that will appropriately extend the wear of jackets or blouses that you already own.

Buy some new pieces—with help—and start small. After you’ve cleared out some space in your once-overfull closet, reward yourself by going shopping for some of the items on your “to-be-acquired” list…but use the buddy system. I definitely recommend taking a friend whose opinion you can trust, hiring an image consultant, or going to a personal shopper in your favorite store. This person can assist you in picking a few pieces that are flattering, easy to put on and match, and that make sense with your current lifestyle, and he or she can also help you to decide on a comfortable shopping budget.

As you rediscover your style, it’s best to start small, even if you leave the store with only three new pieces—albeit ones you feel very good about. (Again, I recommend concentrating on things that will extend and pull together the pieces you already have, like a brown belt or new pumps.) I would also suggest purchasing at least one thing that’s outside your normal fashion box. This strategy will give you the opportunity to see how this new piece makes you feel and to evaluate the feedback you get from others before you buy more.

Change your shopping strategy. Now that you have cleaned out your closet and started to figure out what kinds of pieces you’ll still like and want to wear once you get them home, it’s time to tackle what is, for many people, the toughest step of all: changing the way you shop. If you’ve never passed up a sale in the past, for example, it’s finally time to break the clearance addiction—otherwise you’ll fall back into your old pattern of buying odds and ends that you’ll never wear. I always advise my clients to look at the garment first and the price second—that way you’ll be choosing only between pieces that are flattering. I firmly believe that it’s worth spending a little more for pieces that you’ll wear again and again and again, as opposed to shelling out less for something you’ll wear once or (maybe) twice.

Ultimately, when you streamline your closet, you’ll quite literally be changing your life. You’ll feel less tense as you prepare for your day, and maybe for the first time in a while, you’ll also be excited about what you’re wearing. As you continue to acquire new pieces after the big clean-out and update, pay attention to how they make you feel and how often you find yourself wearing them…and keep building on that knowledge.