Wearing a suit and tie is most commonly thought of as work attire, but it is also worn for formal social occasions such as weddings, graduation and barmitzvahs. It is important for men to dress appropriately for these different occasions, and accessories play a large part in tweaking the formal look. For example, ties can be worn in big and bold patterns, and cufflinks in sparkly crystal designs for a social event. In addition, there is a different style of dress to be adhered to for social events that is more in keeping with the joyous mood. It is a particular skill in elevating your formal wear beyond a typical ‘day at the office’ to something a bit more special. In this article I will look at how men can use accessories to elevate their formal look.
The most important formal accessory for men is the tie (or bowtie if preferred) as it is the best opportunity to customise formal wear, and demands the most attention. For a formal social occasion, the tie should reflect the mood through colour combinations and tie patterns. Big and bold patterns tend to work best, with large florals being a particularly popular choice for weddings. Spots and paisley ties are more associated with the office environment and should be avoided. Striped ties are very popular for work, as they are regarded as symbolising power and status. They can also work for social occasions, but should be less obvious and a more unusual stripe (variations in stripe thickness).
Men should avoid dark or heavy coloured ties, as they tend to present a more serious and sombre mood. Light coloured ties are fresh and ‘spring-like’ which often match the décor of a wedding. Just think of white lilies, cream linen and marquees. Light coloured ties can be accented with darker patterns. In fact, the contrast of say a lemon yellow against a navy blue gives a wonderfully rich and dramatic look, but the dominant colour should be light. Keep your colour palette simple with only one dominant colour, and avoid very loud ties. Here are some great combinations to try out gold and navy, light blue and purple, pink and navy. Neutral tones such as beige and brown can also work really well.
Try and match the colour of your cufflinks with the colour of your tie. Many designer brands produce matching sets, such as Duchamp-London. It’s also appropriate to wear a cufflink made from semi-precious materials such as mother of pearl (ideal for weddings), onyx and haematite. Simon Carter has a large range of semi precious cufflinks which are decorated with stones including sapphires. These cufflinks have a special flavour, as opposed to an everyday style made from perhaps coloured enamel. For the glitzy and glamorous social events, crystal cufflinks will add that extra bit of bling. Whilst black and white crystal cufflinks is a classic look for a black tie event, multi coloured crystal cufflinks can add a bit of colour to an otherwise monochrome outfit. Cufflinks are quite a subtle accessory anyway, so they won’t dominate your look.
Pochettes and dinner scarves are considered old fashioned and a bit over the top by many people. Very few men wear them anymore, so these accessories can act as a bit of a design statement and help you stand out from the crowd. A matching pochette and tie speaks of old fashioned sartorial elegance, a gentleman with a keen eye for detail. It is also another opportunity to inject some life and colour into a suit. Admittedly not for everyone, it takes a man with a real self confidence to wear one. The leather belt should match your more dynamic look, which can be achieved through a more unique buckle such as a plaque or elongated design. Fashionable socks are also an integral part of a lively formal outfit, with stripes being particularly popular. If you can match up colour or pattern in all your different accessories then you are creating a cohesive and dynamic look for a formal social occasion.