Lifestyle

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Paul Galvin: Dare to accessorise

Men do it too - just don’t expect us to use the A word, says Paul Galvin as he looks at watches, belts and scarves

Burberry; scarf, €175, Alexander McQueen, and bag, €755, Prada, all from Brown Thomas, Grafton Street, Dublin
'In the male fashion universe, a scarf is a scarf'
Narrow tie, €17.50

There are certain words that a man simply does not use, and accessories is one of them. In the world of man, it belongs in the same bracket as 'vulnerable', 'emotional' and 'feelings', in that you rarely hear them uttered in any context by the male of the species.

Seriously, when was the last time you heard a guy say, "I'm so pleased I went shopping today -- I picked up a few great accessories"?

It's a bit like hearing a man say: "I'm feeling a little vulnerable today." Doesn't happen. Or, "I have feelings too, you know". It's just not part of our vocabulary.

The only time accessories enter our thoughts at all will be during an episode of a cop show such as 'TJ Hooker' or 'The Streets of San Francisco', when we watch with bated breath as a suspect gets arrested for some murder and his partner in crime breathes a premature sigh of relief, only to get arrested too for being an "accessory to murder".

We then exhale deeply and go about our business, satisfied in the knowledge that law and order reigns supreme in the world once again.

When it comes to clothes, we don't wear accessories. We wear watches, scarves, belts and maybe the odd paisley bandana if we're holidaying and feeling a little adventurous.

In our fashion universe, a watch is a watch, a scarf is a scarf, a belt is a belt and a paisley bandana is... well, it's just a bandana with a paisley print on it, like the one Axl Rose used to wear.

On the other hand, accessories are a vital part of any young woman's style file, as important as any key piece in her wardrobe. After all, what's the point in buying that Isabel Marant varsity jacket without the right pair of court shoes?

In fact, there's a whole wardrobe full of bits and pieces that can accessorise a woman. There are anklets (ankle bracelets) -- I don't know if that's even a word -- bracelets, bangles, belts, boyfriends, bows, chains, cars, corsages, cuffs, diamantés, diamonds, earrings, fake nails, fake tans, fake eyelashes, hats, headscarves, headbands and husbands.

Then there are bags, King Charleses, lip gloss, Mini Coopers, Mulberrys, necklaces, Oscar de la Rentas, pendants, pussy bows, ribbons, rented jewellery, shades, Shih Tzus, ties, toe rings, Uggs, vintage stoles, wallets, wool purses, YSL mascara, Zanotti shoes -- there, that's an A to Z of accessories.

In fact, there's very little a fashion moth can't or won't use as an accessory and, with a little imagination, there's little you can't conjure up to create a new accessory.

Try something as simple as changing your regular shoe laces for neon ones and feel the difference.

Those who love fashion can't live without accessories. Ladies especially can feel naked without the right combination of any of the above; outfits feel ordinary and lack that little something needed to finish them off and, more importantly, make them stand out from the crowd.

Accessorising adds character, personality and individuality to an ensemble. Over-accessorising takes all of the above away from an outfit and adds a touch of trying too hard that makes you stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

Fashion is about the little details. Small things can make a huge difference if you can see them. Most women can see these things -- that's what they do; that's what they think about.

Great designers have to think about detail. How else can they stay relevant? How else can they differentiate themselves from the myriad other designers in a super-competitive environment where everyone is vying for the same thing: to be the person who grabs the imagination and captures the attention; to be the one who's in; to be the one who stays in for longest; to be sought after.

The fashion world today is so ferociously competitive and fast that it's almost impossible to stay in. We consume fashion so quickly that almost as soon as we buy an item it's out. We have it, we own it and we have satisfied a certain desire within us.

That item is no longer 'in'. It is done. Captured. Consumed. It will be worn somewhere shortly after, to an event, a premiere, a wedding, a christening, a funeral or a party to capture more attention.

And then it will be discarded. Not always, but this is becoming more and more habitual, especially in the world of celebrity, where what you wear is scrutinised to such ridiculous levels that being photographed wearing the same thing twice is a major faux pas. Sartorial suicide.

So, we now have a situation where buying a piece for longevity is almost secondary to being seen or photographed wearing it. We then move on quickly to the next must-have item.

So designers have to be aware that unless they're being imaginative and cutting-edge with their designs then they're out. That's why accessories and detail are important.

When it comes to accessories, I use a man bag when I'm travelling and I wear a cravat now and then, a pocket square with a suit, and a tie bar on my tie.

There are no rules when it comes to accessories. Try something out. I've stopped wearing belts, and I don't own a watch because I don't like regiment and watches make me feel regimented. I like to guess the time. And, anyway, if you look around you any day of the week, time has become inescapable. It's on phones, computers, shop windows, public buildings, public transport, advertisements, receipts, text messages, phone calls.

Everyone seems to be on a timetable. I like not knowing the time.

I also like to wear accessories now and again, like most other men. We just don't say the word.

All accessories from River Island

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