How to use accessories to elevate your style
Words: Scott Dodds | Photography: Glen Montgomery | Styling: Mandy Nash
Accessories are usually the last thing you think about when getting dressed, if at all, and they often act more as the cherry on top of your established style than a considered fashion flourish. You’re missing a trick though, as taking your looks to new heights requires a little more preparation and planning than just throwing on a bunch of clothes that complement each other.
It’s best to start considering your choice of accessories as fundamental to the process, not only keeping them in mind when you’re selecting this jacket over that bomber, but even planning entire looks around them. Whether it’s a colour-popping pair of sunglasses or a classic dad cap to aid in your sportswear aesthetic, we’re here to help you get the best out of your accessory options so you can take your style to the next level.
The cap is a tricky customer. Easy to use, difficult to master, this is an accessory you need to either plan or have a versatile enough selection that you can pick one to adapt an outfit after the fact. It’s worth noting that the timeless bent-peak dad cap is the ideal option for a more sophisticated look, while five- and six-panel caps tend to work best when complementing a streetwear-inspired look. Whatever your cap of choice, play it safe by sticking to either black, grey or white. They’re much easier to incorporate without standing out too much, as well as being great to start from the top and shape a look using the cap as the basis.
One of the most understated fashion accessories but certainly one that makes an impact, a watch is all about completing a look. As a rule of thumb, watches work just as well when contrasting an aesthetic as they do when complementing it. For example, while a retro-inspired digital piece from Casio can add extra flex to a sporty or streetwear outfit, it can also subtly downplay a more formal getup. The same goes for a more traditional stainless-steel design, instantly elevating a casual jeans-and-tee style or bringing an air of authority to a look made up of a button-up shirt and chinos.
Sunglasses are everyone’s favourite accessory, most likely because they’re as functional as it gets. When it comes to styling them, you’re basing your decisions on the colour of the lenses and frame, as well as just how flashy these glasses are. Bold lenses are great for complementing a monochrome or muted look, but when you mix too many colours it tends to look like you got dressed in the dark. Classic mirrored lenses are probably your most versatile option, allowing you to shape your look without worrying about whether the sunglasses will clash.
Less about adding to surface-level style and more about tightening your aesthetic, the right wallet or card holder acts as an extension of yourself. If you’re travelling light, Snapscanning and swiping your days away, then a card holder will do the trick for you – light and compact, they just don’t have any space for spare change. When opting for a traditional wallet, it’s worth sticking to black or brown leather, as those vibrant velcro wallets belong well and truly back in childhood. If you’re adding a chain, you’re beyond our help.
Not only do they act as one of the more prominent elements to your look, a bag is also functional enough to hold the rest of your accessories. Your choice of bag is almost always dependant on the context – a vibrant sports bag can take you from work to the gym, a stylish leather duffel is the ideal travel companion and a compact backpack has you covered on a daytime adventure. If you’re going for bright colours with your sports bag or backpack, you can either stick with an all-black or all-white outfit, or at most match it with one other piece of clothing. And even though it's summer, a look full of autumnal tones like burgundy or rust is just waiting to be completed with some leather, so add a messenger bag or satchel to boost the style.