We live in a country known around the world for its luxury and wealth and retail home to themost lavish brands and stores, perhaps what is less known about, is the burgeoning independent fashion business, with some amazing new designers emerging.
‘Love em or hate em’ your fashion accessories say a lot about you, your style and your personality; accessories can change an outfit in an instant. So no wonder so many people find it hard to get it right. Well let’s start by indentifying what constitutes an accessory in Fashion Terms; An accessory is basically anything that you wear additional to your clothing and falls into 5 main categories; shoes, bags, jewellery, sunglasses, hats.
Women are no stranger when it comes to shopping for shoes and bags but an increasing number of men are turning to accessories particularly of the designer origin to spice up their looks. For the male of the species we can also add belts, socks, wallets and watches to the accessories family. Men do get the short end of the stick when it comes to fashion there’s hardly the same length and breadth available as there is for women. But accessorising for men is generally a much easier task so let’s tackle this one first…
The watch; For the average working man who spends his days in a classic suit, my recommendation would be simple works best, a statement watch is a must have, it’s an aspirational piece that speaks in a foreign language between men that women will never understand, a status symbol if you will. The watch says a lot about his character, poser, sugar daddy, sports enthusiast, diver, computer geek – so from Rolex to Casio what is your watch saying about you?
The rise of the ‘Man Bag’ I’m a big fan of these, why shouldn’t the guys get to own a piece of Arm Candy. Bags are now evolving to include the Ipad case, the updated briefcase, laptop bag and as men will always choose functionality and practicality this new technology allows just the excuse for owning an MB. For men you can never go wrong with a classic piece from Louis Vuitton in the Damier Check or Epi leather, not as obvious as the monogram print but just as respected.
One big tip for the men, invest in good shoes! The fairer sex always check out a man’s shoes, it can be a deal breaker on a first date, keep shoes clean and polished and preferably from a reputable brand, we totally get the trainer/converse obsession but if they look like they’ve been down the park playing footy one-too-many times it’s probably time to buy a new pair. Men’s shoes are getting a lot more interesting these days, but you still can’t beat the classics; the Gucci loafer, Dolce & Gabbana trainers (the off duty footwear of choice for most of the UK’s premiership footballers) and a pair of bespoke leather formal shoes from Oliver Sweeney or similar.
I’m a big fan of the statement necklace, this is by far the best way to update any look in your wardrobe, buy into collars and chunky necklaces to transform a simple black dress or the neckline of any top. Best accessories retailers by far, are Aldo (gotta love a High Street brand that was savvy enough to open standalone Accessories stores), for cheap and cheerful head to Claire’s, however for those with deeper pockets my personal favourite is Chanel for costume jewellery, niche brands like Lara Bohinc and mainstream favourites like Kenneth Jay Lane. Watches are also increasingly being seen in the fashion arena, particularly oversized masculine timepieces in chunky gold and rose gold, the perfect accessory for a sharp suit, for the ‘man watch’ head to Marc by Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors.
For bags and purses best stick to the classics, trend-led bags although heartrate-increasing and cause of wait-list frenzies, will ultimately not work out well on the ‘cost per wear’ ratio. Invest in one or two pieces that will never go out of style: something from Hermes, Chanel, Bottega Veneta or Vuitton, these are bags that only grow in value over time. For trend inspired pieces head to Zara for quality catwalk-inspired bags.
Shoes, one of my favourite subjects, don’t get me started on a lengthy shoe debate as I am certifiably shoe mad! While I love Louboutin’s I’m more obsessed with quirkier fashion brands such as Isabel Marant and Brian Atwood. I also adore vintage shoes – not everyone’s cup of tea buying second hand shoes but some of my favourite pairs have been unworn vintage that cost next to nothing. There has also been much debate recently about the white stiletto which I LOVE if there was ever one shoe style associated with the ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ phenomenon this would be it. For those less indulgent on whims I would advise every good wardrobe should have the following; one pair of perfect black stiletto-heeled strappys – on the high St head to Zara or for designer Jimmy Choo would be the best bet; one pair of Nude heeled sandals, Christian Louboutin are my favourite for nude patent platforms; one pair of statement wedges – super high in either white, black or navy and lastly a pair of classic flats whether, ballerinas float your boat or Loafers (Ferragamo does the best). But ladies, my only request, look after your shoes, scraped heels, missing heel tips, scuff marks….all symptoms of unloved shoes and NOT a good look!