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The Compass  /  AccessoriesStyle  /  Hacks-essorize: How to Repurpose Men’s Accessories

Hacks-essorize: How to Repurpose Men’s Accessories

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The rules governing men’s clothing accessories are not that complicated. Clip this here, slip this through this hole, for a touch of sprezzatura, leave this nonchalantly unbuttoned, etc. For years we’ve dutifully followed the rules and they’ve worked for us. But our styles are our own and in this world of “personal brands” isn’t it time we started to break new ground, to apply some creativity to our style, to have fun with our look?

Nobody’s recommending that you break the rules for the sole purpose of breaking the rules. But there is some room for some creativity, especially when it comes to accessories. It’s the little things that define your personal style. Hacking the accessories you probably already have by repurposing and reimagining them lets you add a little panache to your presentation and define your personal style. Here’s how:

Knot What You Expected

You don’t need a flower boutonniere (a la weddings or the prom) to put something in your lapel. If your button hole is functional, put it to use. A silk knot that was intended for your cuff can work overtime as a shapely accent on a solid blazer and bring the perfect amount of contrast to a monochrome outfit.

Silk Knot Cuff Links by Brooks Brothers.

Top This!

With fall approaching our thoughts turn to dapper hats in rich browns. A feather in your cap can bring a little dash to your look, but too much feather can look like you just played a gig with an Oompah band at a Tyrolean cultural festival. Instead, try a neatly folded pocket square to bring a bit of urbane polish to your hat like the stylish gent in the photo at the top. Fold it into a triangle, slide it in to the band and you’re done. Or, for a bit more flair, puff a thin silk pocket square like you normally would, slide it into the band of your hat, spread it out a little and, voila, your look is now topped off.

Keep a Trick Up Your Sleeve

We’ve covered the value of the properly rolled sleeve last summer, but we didn’t notice the opportunity to show off a little “sleeve bling” until tie clips became de rigueur in the Black Lapel offices. Start with a Happy Hour Roll (click the link above if you need a refresher on sleeve rolls), then clip it from the top with the tie clip you removed when you loosened your tie for said Happy Hour and it’s Miller Time! (Just kidding, nobody drinks Miller.)

Tie Clip by The Tie Bar.

Put Your Working Cuffs To Work

The working or “surgeon’s” cuff (one in which the buttons on the end of your sleeve can be opened) is a hallmark of a finely made jacket but nobody notices it unless you do what most guys do and wear the last button unbuttoned. It’s a great look, but it’s a little predictable. Change things up with a cufflink that brings a little pop to your wrist even when you’re not wearing a french cuff shirt.

Vintage Liberty Dime Cufflinks by Brooks Brothers

I’m With the Band(anna)

From biker gangs to the Bloods and Crips to N-Sync, whenever men get together to do criminally bad things bandannas are usually involved. Bring the bandanna back into society’s good graces (or show off your inner bad boy) by using a bandanna as a pocket square. The intricate patterns and range of colors make the bandanna a great way to decorate the jacket pocket whether you’re dressing your look up or down.

Bandanna by Levis.


Step 1 – Snap a photo of yourself rocking your hacks-essory.

Step 2 – Follow Black Lapel on Instagram (instagram.com/blacklapel).

Step 3 – Upload your photo of your style hack with the tag #BLStyleHacks.

Our favorite will win a pocket square from Armstrong & Wilson! Winners will be announced on Instagram and Twitter next week!

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15 thoughts on “Hacks-essorize: How to Repurpose Men’s Accessories”

  1. Schauer, Suzanne says:

    I’ve gotten a new idea from you on repurposed tie bar. I use decorations as baguettes. Would love more ideas on repurposed cuff links though. Suzanne

    1. We’re glad to have inspired some further creativity here. As for hacks-essorizing with cuff links…we’ve heard of a cuff link doubling as an interim pants button, but that may not be an every day, every situation hack. Maybe check out this Buzzfeed article for further cuff link hacks, it’s more their speed than ours.

  2. I was wondering about the tie clip on the rolled up sleeve. Do you only use the one tie clip (from your tie presumably) or do you put a tie clip on both sleeves? Also what other acsesorys would Black Tie recommend wearing with the sleeve “bling”?
    One more question for you. Where can one find a bandana that when folded (pocket square style) is not bulky like most everyday bandana?
    Thanks for this post it really helped me rethink some of the basics.

    1. We like the clip on one sleeve. It seems more natural and nonchalant. Clips on both sleeves automatically shows that you planned the look (which, of course, you did or you wouldn’t be reading this now but we like our casual looks to have a look of spontaneity). Still, this whole story is about breaking the rules and using accessories the way you like, so we’re not going to lay down any laws here. Want to wear two tie clips on your rolled up sleeve? Go for it. Hell, wear twenty so your arm looks like Mr. T’s neck! Have fun with it.

      As for other sleeve bling, just about any clip will work on a rolled up sleeve, even a paper clip (one of those shiny gold ones will do the trick).

      For a bandanna that also works as a pocket square, try Hickoree’s. They make traditional bandannas as well as 13″ x 13″ bandannas that are made to be used as pocket squares.

      Happy hacking, Levi!

  3. Nothing wrong with Miller. Some of us are on student loans here!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ha! You’re right, Rishi, there’s no shame in Miller. In fact, here’s to drinking an inexpensive brew that isn’t a statement of hipster irony.

      1. PBR jab does not go unnoticed.

        1. Interpret it as you will, Scott, all we said was “hipster irony.” 😉

  4. Are these trilby/fedoras really taking off out East?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Many men have realized that the smaller brimmed trilby is a sharp modern version of the classic old school fedora. The stingy brimmed straw hat has had a few good summers and we expect to see felt ones as the weather cools down (including some to be featured in The Compass in the not too distant future).

  5. Ben KARLIN says:

    For me the cufflink in the jacket’s sleeve buttonhole? Not so good. I think it is the size rather than the idea. There is a lot to be said for understatement and this doesn’t say it. Not a problem with a little flash but with distraction. This bit at the wrist doesn’t draw a person’s attention to anything substantial. The only thing it’s done is to highlight the working buttonholes; to show off. Something smaller, closer to matching the buttons in size would be far more interesting, I think, and I’d be tempted to try one sleeve rather than two.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yes, Ben a link that is the same size as the buttons definitely works for a more understated look and doing this on one or both sleeves is very much a matter of personal preference. In general, these ideas are all subject to your tastes and style. In fact, we encourage you to put your own spin on them (see the giveaway at the end of the story).

  6. I’m pretty traditional when it comes to men’s style (which some think is weird because I’m young; 20), but I think you guys did a great job of bending the traditional, without going overboard. When most people talk about “bending the rules” they end up coming to things like wearing sneakers with a suit…just no.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nothing wrong with a traditional young’un. Baby steps, Joe. Try these out when you’re feeling a little edgy.

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