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How to Find Quality Accessories

How to Find Quality Accessories

If suit up regularly there are a few things that you wear with your suits all the time: a crisp dress shirt, a well-tied tie, an accompanying pair of socks, etc. Then there are the accessories that are technically not necessary, but for any guy who considers himself well-dressed they are pretty much mandatory.

Do you NEED these accessories? Technically, no, but they’re staples of the well-dressed man’s wardrobe so you should at least know how to pick good ones. Hence, we’ve created this quick guide to the non-essential essentials.

The Pocket SquareThe number one “must have” item for a stylish man, in our book, is a pocket square. Yes, it may be utterly useless. We get that. In fact, one thing we will not tolerate is actually using a pocket square (like the time we saw a guy take off his toupee and mop his sweaty dome with a white linen pocket square [we shit you not]).

Okay, so you know a pocket square may not serve a functional purpose, but we can’t express enough how important it is aesthetically. But how do you identify a good one? To answer that question, we talked to Barron Cuadro, Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and a guy who knows pocket squares inside and out, having made them for his own line, Fifth & Brannan.

Q and A with Barron Cuadro

Pocket Squares 1

BL: What are the telltale signs of quality pocket square construction?

BC: A hand-rolled edge, assuming done well, is considered a mark of high quality. Then again, I’ve seen squares being passed off as “silk, hand-rolled” when they were made from poor-quality silk and machine stitched. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.

Regardless of how you prefer your edges finished, just make sure the stitching is as even and secure as possible. Also, pay attention to your fabric just as you would your shirting or suiting.

Barron Cuadro Quote
Pocket Squares 2

BL: Any tips for the guy who is just beginning to build his pocket square collection?

BC: The square’s fabric is important to me if I’m dressing for a formal event, in which case I’d choose something simple and clean (like a white silk pocket square). For regular days, I like to switch it up, from light cottons to wools. When it comes down to it, a pocket square is just a piece of fabric you stick in your suit pocket. Don’t think too hard.

The WatchWe know some of you out there just done a spit take after seeing that we called watches ”non-essentials.” The truth is, in an age when many people spend 24 hours a day within arm’s length of their mobile phones, a lot of guys see watches as unnecessary.

True, you can reach into your pocket and check the time on your phone, but fumbling around with a phone to check the time is about as un-smooth as it gets. Ask a woman (any woman), she’ll tell you, that’s not sexy. Plus, pulling out your phone to check the time is the quickest way to “I’ll just check my Facebook page while I’m at it” and the next thing you know you’ve spent twenty minutes digging through updates. Go analog. Wear a watch.

What should you look for when shopping for said watch? To answer this question, we turned to another expert, John Tarantino, Co-Founder and CEO of Martenero, a New York watch brand offering customizable watches that we’ve highlighted here before.

Q and A with John Tarantino

Watch 1

BL: What are some of the telltale signs of a quality everyday (read: affordable) watch?

JT: Take note of the crystal covering the watch face. Watches either have a sapphire crystal or a mineral crystal. Sapphire is incredibly difficult to scratch. Mineral crystal, over time, will develop a number of micro-scratches. Any watch over $500 should have a sapphire crystal in it.

Another thing to look at is the crown, the piece on the side of the watch that is used to set the date and to wind the watch. There are different technologies. A screw down crown increases water resistance. A watch is most vulnerable to damage from water and moisture when the screw is pulled out, so look for a screw down crown.

John Tarantino Quote
Watch 2

BL: What do you say to the guy who is just starting to build a collection? Where should he start?

JT: For your first watch, go with something relatively classic. That means a white dial. You can wear it for a lot of different occasions. That’s one of the core tenets behind our company. We’re trying to do really high quality for under $500 and a watch that you could wear for any occasion.

A good collection includes watches at several price points. Start with a versatile design and then branch out into something with a more interesting dial. Either a gray or a black dial. I really like Longines and Baume and Mercier in the $1,000 to $2,000. I own one of each. One of my favorite brands in the next tier of pricing, $5,000 – $10,000, is IWC. They make a watch called a Portuguese Chronograph with a black dial. It’s gorgeous.

The CufflinkCan you go your whole life without ever owning a pair of cufflinks? Sure, but what kind of life would it be? It would be a life in which you never got truly dressed up.

Whether it’s for a black tie gala, a wedding or just a particularly dressy day at the office, a great pair of cufflinks can finish off your look with grace and style. Of course, if you add a crappy set of cufflinks to your otherwise stylish ensemble you might as well add a “CLOWN” sign around your neck as well.

When we wanted to know how to find a quality cufflink, we spoke to Adrian Azodi, founder of the lust-worthy accessories brand, Monsieur Fox.

Q and A with Adrian Azodi

Cufflinks 1

BL: What are the telltale signs of a quality pair of cufflinks?

AA: For me, one of the biggest signs is the back finding, the portion of the cufflink that slides through the button hole and hold the cufflink to the shirt. Since many backs are mass-produced and then soldered to the back of the cufflink, it makes the process less expensive, but for me, cheapens the piece and lessens it’s uniqueness.

Adrian Azodi Quote
Cufflinks 2

BL: What do you say to a guy who’s just starting his collection?

AA: Start small, either buy something you really like or something you feel comfortable wearing often, this way you can develop your taste and you haven’t spent a fortune only to realize you don’t like what you’re wearing!

This is just a short list of non-essentials we think are essential. What did we miss? Got a non-essential-essential you’d add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “How to Find Quality Accessories”

  1. Jeremy says:

    I don’t know about pocket squares much, but definitely getting a watch with a sapphire crystal is a must. Fortunate for myself, my first quality watch was a Tag in HS that I still own and runs well 10 yrs plus, now I own some Burberry not worth a mention for time keeping but looks pleasant and a Suunto Ambit if I need to scale Everest anytime soon.

    As far as cufflinks, I always wear them when I have to wear my “blues”, military semi formal dress. I have had to opt for the regulation standard but I wanted to add that custom look that BL prefers men do as long as it is in good taste.

    I have to wear something circular in silver, you have any recommendations so I can look that much more dapper when I get my blue prepped for show?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That sounds like a nice watch collection, Jeremy!

      As for circular cufflinks, we like the J.L. Lawson & Co. links for understated but stylish circles. They not only come in stainless steel, but in silvery bronze as well. One pair these will get you through just about any dressy situation.

  2. It’s ironic that you talk about handrolled pocket squares, yet the one in the picture are machine hemmed with polyester thread ;).

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’re correct. We were quoting Barron Cuadro on the hand-rolled statement. A bit of our interview that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor was Barron adding that “others prefer a machine-finished, merrowed edge, usually for cotton squares.” Those we used in the photos are cotton, hence the machine rolling. We prefer the matte polyester thread to silk on a cotton square but that’s just us.

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