Accessories, say the experts, make the difference between dressing and dressing up.Establish a foundation of good-quality suits in staple colours, then expand their versatility and individualize them by adding accessories.
"The beauty of accessories is that you can take those items that are usually year-round and make them very seasonal," says Sonia Fisher, president of E.R. Fisher on Richmond Road.
"A nice bright dress shirt in the summer, lightweight, and a bright tie make the suit look very summery. In the winter, darker accessories, heavier materials make the outfit look in-season."Accessories can even take a look from one time of day to another, says Yannick Beauvalet, owner of L'HEXAGONE on Dalhousie Street.
"Having a nice selection of accessories on hand can really help you take one suit from the office to evening, or help you take the same suit to a wedding and then to a party."By choosing some great accessories, he says, "you can actually enhance and grow your wardrobe without having to spend a ton of money."
Men's fashion hasn't changed a whole lot in the last century - lapels have widened then narrowed again; pants have widened then narrowed again; ties have widened then narrowed again."We're not reinventing very much in menswear," says Beauvalet.
For Beauvalet, menswear is all about proper fit and great details. Take two guys in similar outfits and one might look better than the other. Often, he says, it's attributable to the accessories - a French cuff with a cufflink, maybe a tie bar or, what he calls the biggest trend in the last couple of years, pocket squares.
Whether it's bracelets, bow ties or suspenders, "it's really about finding and building on your personal style," he says. "A lot of it is finding your personality and expressing it through some of those accessories."The basic suit is a pretty boring thing. You can accessorize it with a flower on the lapel."
Accessories, says Fisher, can "carve out a little bit of individuality. There are a zillion different patterns and colours, and a man can pick certain accessories that reflect his sense of style, whether conservative or a little bit more Avant-garde."
Women's fashion may hog the limelight, but Beauvalet says men's fashion is complex and a world unto itself, focussing on body, fit, cut, fabric - and details."It's really hard to draw any parallels between menswear and women's fashion."
In the last eight to 10 years, menswear has gone from a boxy fit to a more defined, fitted look in keeping with a shifting demographic and a more health-and fitness-conscious populace who want to emphasize their shape with clothes.
"There's been a real resurgence in interest in traditional men's accessories, which is the result of the Internet and globalization and young men seeing the options that are out there - what they're wearing in Japan or Europe," says Fisher."It's all available, and I think it's stimulating a revived interest in menswear in general, but especially in accessories."
The writer is a freelancer
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