May 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Cufflinks and Socks and Ties, Oh My! A Look Into Men’s Accessories

“Don’t forget about fashion for men,” has been a comment made by Jewish Link readers. “We really like to look good but may need some help.” With that thought in mind, the Fashion Link presents a collection of fashion advice geared directly to the stylish men of New Jersey, and even to the not-yet-stylish but looking for a place to start.

In 2014, men’s socks made headlines. Slow news day? Sounds crazy, but the reality was that socks had helped men’s apparel sales surpass the numbers for women for the second year in a row. As workplace conditions have become more accepting of casual dress, many men no longer wear ties to work. Without that piece of personal expression, fashion savvy (and even those not as savvy) look to find ways to bring a bit of their personal style into the day’s wardrobe choice. They have become what Jordan Silvestri, director of SINAI’s Shalem High School, referred to as “the sneaky style point.” Since people do not tend to notice socks immediately, socks can make a style impact “when you are sitting and cross your legs,” Silvestri explained. As pants legs got slimmer, this also gave socks more time to peek out and get noticed. TABC Head of School Rabbi Asher Yablok sports these colorful accessories as well. In a world of monochromatic suits, he uses patterned socks to express his creativity and chooses socks based on designs and colors.

As is the case in many trends, patterned socks are available in a range of prices with stores like Target and Century 21 carrying them, while, at the other extreme, fancy designer socks are sold in Neiman Marcus and other high-end retail locations. Socks also have a range of patterns, but from the more sedate and understated designs, often a good starting point for the uninitiated, to novelty patterns and pictures, in loud, bright colors.

But what about the recent Wall Street Journal report that crazy socks are on their way out? “Definitely not in our stores,” said the staff of Emporio. In fact, they see the opposite trend. “Patterned socks are still very popular, and we have an uptick in demand around holidays,” explained Teaneck store sales manager Sam Rappaport. Store manager Gerard Rivera commented, “In socks, as in every part of fashion, styles will come and go. Socks can be worn wilder or tamer depending on the environment and occasion, but socks as a personal style will likely stick around for a while.” But, both Rappaport and Rivera advised to keep the words of the Wall Street Journal close by, and consider the environment. “The Journal may cater to a more conservative demographic,” they explained, that it is possible that in those circles one should downplay the craziness of a sock, but feel that personality in socks will still be accepted.

Pocket squares have recently become an understated way for men to add a big splash to an ensemble. While the pocket square is just a small piece of fabric, its ability to accent a suit is strong and can be used to either contrast or coordinate with a tie and shirt color. According to Silvestri, he enjoys picking out pocket squares for the way they “allow you to bring attitude and style to a suit, tie, sock combination.” The men of Teaneck are a sharp-dressed bunch. Rappaport and Rivera reported that the Teaneck location of Emporio Stores sells more pocket squares than any of their other stores. For those who feel that a pocket square may be too formal for their everyday look, consider this bit of advice: Though they are often seen as part of a formal suit and day look (and, indeed, they have been seen as a snazzy part of many wedding parties recently), the somewhat fashion -forward can wear a pocket square in a blazer, even without a tie. As Silvestri stated, “You will never get bored” with the variety pocket squares bring to an outfit.

Pocket squares are even enjoying their time in the spotlight, with Fox News Correspondent Ed Henry making them a key fixture in his wardrobe. Some good-natured ribbing from colleagues led one of his news colleagues to start a twitter handle attributed to Henry’s pocket square (@EdsPocketSquare).

The French cuff, long thought of as formal, with fancy cufflinks as its fastener, has also transitioned to add an element of informality and personality to the wearer. While heirloom-quality cufflinks still exist, many novelty cufflinks have become popular as well. Superheros, sports, animals and pop culture (did someone say crystal Star Wars cufflinks?) are all options for an elegant but personalized touch to a shirt. Yechiel Stobezki of Bergenfield would certainly agree. He boasts a selection of cufflinks tailored (pun intended) to his interests. “A men’s wardrobe should be classy and with good style, but also reflect his hobbies,” Stobezki explained. Referring to his Captain America cufflinks, he continued, “Every guy has a favorite superhero, so why not introduce it into your wardrobe?”

And for a father-son matchable moment, there are even youthful options beyond sports. Emporio boasts a vast selection of cufflinks for all ages, including crayon and LEGO, that will make everyone happy. Now the challenge is to find a french cuff shirt in a small size.

So where do all these accessorizing options leave ties? Should men relegate their ties to the back of the closet? “Not at all,” said Rivera, who refers to ties as “the staple of the outfit; the finishing touch.” And as much as ties have not been as necessary in the past few years, men’s fashion retailers have started to see them make a comeback. In addition, ties, like many other articles of clothing and accessories, can be seasonal, so pay attention to colors and styles.

One last note: As men’s styles have gotten narrow—from shirt cuts to suit pants, ties have adjusted their width as well. The average width of a tie is now under 3 inches. Slim ties are around 2 inches, with the very skinny ties that only cover the row of buttons around 1 inch. For those who prefer this style, Emporio’s Ari Elbaum suggests wearing it with a tie clip for a very trendy and pulled-together look.

All this information should help the fashion-interested male dress for sartorial success.

By Jenny Gans

 

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