Small but Key Indicators of Taste
With smartphones completely ubiquitous, carefully selected everyday accessories are a way gentleman can show off their personality and taste
Article by Rupert Watkins
It is tempting in this technological world to believe the only accessory you need to walk out the door with is a smart phone. Practically – especially with tap pay enabling apps – this may well be true. Yet, there will always be a need and desire for anyone to show off their own personality and taste through small, frequently carried and used gentlemen’s accessories. Some of the little things in life can give much pleasure when used frequently so are worth investing in.
In this day and age, probably the main four gentlemen’s accessories (this article does not cover worn accessories such as watches or cuff links) a man needs to focus on will be a wallet or card holder, tablet (or laptop) cover, decent pen and for those rainy days, an umbrella. In an age where work – from emails to presentations – can be planned off a tablet, an attaché or brief case is nice but may not be carried as much.
Providing your cards are not uploaded to your phone, a good quality wallet, or two, is needed. If you use a normal billfold wallet this is going to get a lot of usage, get grimy and sweated onto so needs to be of excellent quality leather. If you can find it, English bridle leather is an excellent bet. Yes, whilst expensive, it is very tough, hard wearing and able to be washed down every so often with a very weak solution of washing up liquid (to remove grease from being handled) before having a leather oil rubbed into it. If you’re going to invest £200 or more into a wallet, that little due care and attention will see it last everyday use for a decade and more.
On the point of wallets, whether you carry it in a trouser or jacket pocket nothing is more unbecoming and tiresome than an overloaded one. Be ruthless over what you have in it, do you really need to carry every store/ coffee shop loyalty card you accumulate? This is even more important with a chest wallet as if it is overloaded it will disrupt the drape and line of the jacket. More adventurous materials are often used for chest wallets so, if the budget allows, ponder pigskin or lizard for this elegant accessory.
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We all carry and use tablets and/or laptops on a daily basis and a multitude of famous and newer start-up brands from Hermès down offer many styles of tech sleeve. These are slim and elegant ways to both protect your kit and help you project the smart, professional and dapper impression you wish to give whenever you walk into a room or meeting.
Writing with a proper pen is one of life’s great pleasures. Yes, we may type out 99.9 per cent of our work but those times that you need to sign something – or write a letter – there is much tactile satisfaction to be had from using a proper fountain pen so it is worth being prepared to invest a little in one. It’s one of those small details that will mark you out. A classic top of the range fountain pen should last a lifetime and some of the most illustrious names such as Parker, Montegrappa and Montblanc are investment pieces in their own right. If you know you constantly scribble notes with a ballpoint or propelling pencil then taking the time to find a make, weight and style that suits your writing allows even the most mundane of jottings to be a pleasurable and elegant experience.
Given the marvels of the weather in our part of the world, an umbrella is a much needed but frequently overlooked accessory. Yes, you may well leave it at home just when you find you are marooned in the office under a downpour but that is no excuse to not take the time to invest in a classic gentleman’s brolly. A proper, full length umbrella – rather than a quickly procured extendable one – allows you to keep dry, offer protection to someone else due to their size and providing you invest in a good one, will not be turned inside out at the first gust of wind. There is no longer any requirement for it to be classic black in a more casual environment; many brands offer classic umbrellas in a comprehensive range of colours – even camouflage and tartan.
There really are few gentlemen’s accessories you need to reach for when walking out the door and the four above cover the main bases. As ever, better to focus on a smaller number of core pieces; research, contrast, test and buy the best you can, in the long term they will give you an elegant thrill every time you pick them up.