Ac­ces­sory to a crime

The well-dressed man knows how to choose the cor­rect ‘ex­tra things’ in life

Esquire (UK) - - Style - by Jeremy Lang­mead

Have you ever said to a friend, or even thought to your­self, I must buy an ac­ces­sory to­day? I sus­pect not. So I’m not sure why peo­ple re­fer to shoes, bags, bracelets, cuff­links, even ties and watches, as ac­ces­sories. I’ve never had the de­sire to ac­ces­sorise; I’m not sure many men have. I do, though, some­times like to wear a tie and carry a bag. “Ac­ces­soris­ing” is an­other one of those words, like lay­er­ing, that gives the things we blokes choose or need to wear a bad name.

How­ever, I did re­cently strug­gle not to use the ac­ces­sorise word when sit­ting in Nobu next to a pleas­ant young man who was wear­ing a tiara made from gold leaves. I felt it only po­lite to ac­knowl­edge his rather ec­cen­tric choice of at­tire for a sup­per of sushi, but wasn’t sure what the male equiv­a­lent of a tiara was. I told him I liked his, umm, err, ac­ces­sory. (In ret­ro­spect, that could have been mis­con­strued quite awk­wardly.) Prince Azim of Brunei had no such qualms about re­fer­ring to it as a tiara — a gift from his sis­ter, he ex­plained — and in­deed it went well with his low-cut, dou­ble-breasted jacket worn with no shirt un­der­neath. Quite a look. I sup­pose I would have the courage to dress more flam­boy­antly if I, too, was ac­com­pa­nied by four burly body­guards when­ever I popped out for din­ner with friends.

Of course, ex­tra things (what I pre­fer to call ac­ces­sories) sell very well to men. We no longer buy a brief­case for life, we buy one to use un­til we get bored of it and see an­other we like more; the same goes for the num­ber of shoes we own (there’s a lit­tle bit of Imelda Mar­cos in all of us these days), and even jewellery. I’m amazed at the num­ber of cuff­links sold nowa­days. I won­der what is the ra­tio of cuff­links to the num­ber of dou­ble-cuff shirts a man owns; dis­pro­por­tion­ate I’m sure.

Other items of jewellery seem to come in and out of vogue. Tie clips were pop­u­lar a few years ago but seem to have fallen back into ob­scu­rity (pos­si­bly ru­ined by The Wolf of Wall Street). Bracelets are piled on each sum­mer when short-sleeve weather ar­rives but for the rest of the year they be­come quite an­noy­ing when they get caught in cuffs and un­der cash­meres (that’s what you call jumpers these days as no one, come rain or shine, is meant to wear any­thing but).

And we’ve seen the re­nais­sance of the neck­lace. These, I’m afraid, are tricky beasts: wear one too chunky and you look like an ex­tra in Nar­cos; too thin and you look like an ex­tra in Nuns on the Run.

And, since peo­ple tend to keep neck­laces on at night, there’s al­ways the chance of clan­des­tine en­tan­gle­ment. There’s noth­ing less de­flat­ing than the af­ter­glow of coitus be­ing spent try­ing to disen­tan­gle two glass bead-enam­elled gold neck­laces.

Sun­glasses — you may well be wear­ing a pair while read­ing this — are an­other

“ex­tra thing” we’ve em­braced be­yond need. Most of us now own mul­ti­ple pairs, in case we’re in the mood to chan­nel Steve McQueen in his Per­sols, Jack Ni­chol­son in his Ray Bans or El­ton John in his... maybe not.

Back in fash­ion, too, are clip-on shades: every­one from Thom Browne to Oliver Peo­ples are of­fer­ing frames with clip-on shades to go over pre­scrip­tion lenses. This, for me, is a god­send; I’ve spent years sit­ting on sun-loungers try­ing to read books while wear­ing a pair of sun­glasses bal­anced on top of my nor­mal spec­ta­cles ig­nor­ing the small crowd of chil­dren point­ing and laugh­ing at my ab­surd predica­ment.

And maybe, just maybe, in a few years’ time we might all, like Prince Azim, be pop­ping out for sushi in a tiara. But it was his bevy of body­guards that I truly en­vied (even more than his £5bn in the bank). A se­cu­rity de­tail is some­thing I’ve al­ways dreamed of... some­thing I would quite hap­pily re­fer to as an ac­ces­sory.

Medal­lion men: Beastie Boys, New York City, 1987

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