According to Flusser, since the Victorian times, stylish men have tended to avoid all but the most discreet and useful of accessories. With the exception of the finger ring, everything else was worn for a specific reason. The money clip, tie clip, collar pin, key chain, cuff links, shirt studs, and wristwatch are utilitarian first, decorative second. However, a gentleman can still wear quite an array of jewellery without taxing the limits of good taste.
In pre-WW I days, a hip flask and a cigarette case were considered essential accessories for a generation that swore by a drink before and a cigarette after. In the ’80s, a man’s jewellery was supposed to signify his social and business status. And so men came to wear cuff links, suspenders, the collectors wrist- or pocketwatch, and writing instruments. Now that you know what was in vogue once upon a time, how about checking what those tall, dark and handsome guys must accessorise their looks with?
It was the Egyptians who first began wearing them because by linking one ring to the other, they calculated their currency. Whereas the Greeks and Romans used theirs as official seals. But it was in the Renaissance period that signet rings crested with the family coat of arms were introduced.
Today: Most married men on this planet sport gold or platinum bands. As for men and finger jewellery, less is usually more, especially on younger men, who should stick with simple, understated adornment. More ornate, nonmarital finger rings have always been considered gauche.
It was with the art nouveau and art deco periods that cufflinks with some extraordinary design and craftsmanship became a hit.
Today: A pair of Edwardian cuff links or an early Cartier tank watch affords a man one of the few opportunities to actually sport an ornament of beauty, without eliciting disapproval of the opposite sex. No form of shirt sleeve closure dresses a man’s hand better than a well-fitted cuff accented by the subtle glamour of its buttonhole-covering link. Cufflinks with bright, colourful rubies, emeralds, or sapphires are still considered too ostentatious for day wear, and are reserved for after-dark ceremonies. So, sooner or later, every well-dressed man should acquire an antique set of studs.
An American invention, the tie holder, or clasp, adds a touch of controlled flourish. A tie clasp keeps the tie under control, preventing it from flapping in the breeze or acting as a napkin while dining. In addition, affixing the tie to the shirts front helps to maintain the tie’s arch in the neckband. Tie bars also add a measure of panache for those shorter men who must tuck their ties into their trouser tops, a la Fred Astaire. In the ’60s, tie clasps went into decline, because the stylish wider tie was thrown off centre when clipped to the shirt.
Necktie bars should be simple and understated, though a whimsical one can add a bit of irreverence to the highbrow ensemble
Fortunately, we have moved beyond the Victorian taboo on public displays of a timepiece (passage of time was not a true gentleman’s concern).
Today: One measurement of a timepiece’s quality and dressiness is its thinness. Unfortunately, many men wear Dick Tracyscaled wristwatches with business suits (alongwith dress shirts whose cuffs are either too short or too loose at the wrists). Oversize watches do little for the man’s overall stylishness.