Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Guest Post: A Cheap Gent's Guide to Mancessories

I get a strange kind of anxiety when buying gifts for the men in my life (I really only have two of consequence: my dad and my husband). With Father's Day just around the corner (June 16th!), I am starting to get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

Because I am clearly not an expert in buying gifts for these guys, I thought I would throw this post to someone who is. Clint over at CheapGent writes about how men can (and should) develop their own personal style while doing it on-the-cheap. You should definitely check out this guy's blog.

In the following post, the Cheap Gent postulates that a man will rarely want to take ownership of his style if all of the ladies in his life buy him his bread-and-butter items. Instead, the Cheap Gent recommends using gift-giving holidays to provide your guy with some special accessories, or as he refers to them, mancessories. He has some strong opinions on men's fashion, not all of which I personally agree with (I mean, neon socks sound awesome). His point of view, however, is one I totally respect, and he has listed some great, reasonable options and ideas.

A Cheap Gent's Guide to Mancessories

Most men care about how they look, they just don’t care enough. After considerable time spent with guys (brothers, friends, family, strangers), I’ve discovered something interesting: the significant other buys most of the clothes in his closet. I have to assume this is because we are just too lazy. I say “we” because I was in this same metaphorical boat.

Some years ago, I woke up a little earlier than usual for class. I thought, “what should I do with all this time?” I thought about exercising, or getting my daily dose of Katie Couric, or eating a well-balanced breakfast (you know, one of those breakfasts that you’d think about for a week). Well, I didn’t do any of those things. I decided to spend some extra time getting dressed.

I hadn’t invested much thought in how I looked before. Of course, I had just as much an ego and self-confidence as the next guy, but I hadn’t gone that “extra mile” to impress. But this one morning, I decided to give it a go. I remembered a cool look I had seen on a billboard (probably an American Eagle or Abercrombie ad…). You know, that button-up over a t-shirt look. I thought it looked dope, but was nervous as all get-out wondering how people would respond. I wasn’t necessarily one to put myself out there. Today, I was out there.

I’ll be honest, these kids are rocking the look much better than I. They’ve got this look of deserved, pre-teen angst. Middle school is hard these days. (Via)
The response was favorable. As I grew more and more confident throughout the day, I decided that investing in how I presented myself paid dividends (I killed it in Economics). I slowly built my wardrobe with elements that fit the perception I intended to create. I took note of what I liked out in the world and worked it into my own look. I learned who I was, the image I projected, and how to style myself…all important things to being a man.

Sure, my significant others still bought me clothes for holidays and birthdays, but it wasn’t a necessity that I relied on. I knew what I was doing and taking responsibility of my style was empowering. All men can and should take ownership of the branding they put out into the world. They should understand and be interested in what looks best to fit their frame and their lifestyle. I’m not saying his girlfriend shouldn’t help tailor or guide, just don’t force.

So how can you as the wife, girlfriend, sister, aunt, grandma, etc. encourage your guy in his fashion choices? Accessories. Accessories for a man, or, “mancessories”. The shirt, trousers, jacket/outerwear, and shoes are the bread and butter items and should be left to the man’s discretion.

“Mancessories” are the additional notes to the foundation that make a man’s fit standout and individualistic. Just like in a woman’s wardrobe, the accessories are limitless, interchangeable, and of a wide-variety. But unlike a woman’s wardrobe, a man’s accessories come in just a few key elements: watches, cufflinks, ties, and socks. If your boo is wearing anything more than this (in a business or professional scenario), have a conversation with him. Sit him down and explain all the things wrong with his braided bracelet.

And since I’m a cheap man (as most men are) all of the info below is for the pocketbook-conscious.


Most guys have that one “go-to” watch. That watch that never fails, both in style and functionality. This is the perfect opportunity to give your man an opportunity to switch it up. If he has a stainless steel watch, opt for something with a light brown band (this could go either way).

There are tons of options out there, but simplicity is key. Keep it classy, sophisticated, and “timeless” (eh?). This does not necessarily mean spending a boat-load on a designer name, like most of us tend to do. We expect to pay for quality, but this isn’t always the case. You can find great, long-lasting timepieces for a descent price. There are retailers with clout and fair pricing, like Invicta, Timex, and Fossil.
  • Large faces (head of the watch) are trendy, but not as universal and long-lasting. They are not professional enough to be worn during business hours, so it may not be included into the rotation. Opt for a medium-face.

This sends the message of “yes, we get it, you can tell time”. (Via)

  • Ceramic and plastic options are rotating into favor. Leave these for the athletic purposes, as they were intended. Opt for a leather, fabric, or metal-based band.
    Timex Weekender - $35

  • Neons are “in”. Whether it’s blue, green, or orange, it seems guys are matching their watches to their moods. In two years, he’ll dig through the back of the closet wondering why he ever dropped $100 dollars on a watch that perfectly matched that one pair of Nike high-tops. Don’t do it. You’ll all regret it.

    I have to assume he’s got the matching kicks. (Via)


Cufflinks used to be a staple (nay, necessity) of the man’s working wardrobe. As corporate culture began to shift more casual, so went the French-cuff shirt. The modern man, unfortunately, does not have the need for a cufflink, unless they make a need. Of course, the French-cuff shirt still exists and is worn by fashion-forward men, even in casual settings. Maybe if he has a pair of dashing cufflinks, he’ll invest in a formal shirt to work into his everyday wardrobe.

A quick Ebay search came up with an extensive array of functional and stylish cufflinks for the most cheap of consumers (one pictured below).

  • Stick with wooden or metallic cufflinks, as other materials may wear easily and break. Also, the wooden and metallic options look the most professional.

    Ebay - $13

  • There is never a need to spend more than $30 on a pair of cufflinks. He will not wear them enough to rationalize the cost.
    For the cool price of $4.2million, these luxury cufflinks may be out of your budget.  I’m assuming these have some sort of magical powers. (Via)
  • Many sites give you the option to “customize” your cufflinks with initials. This could be a cool idea, but can be seen as kitschy and unprofessional.

    I’m not heartless, I see the sentiment.  But I’m not sure the rest of the world seeing your mug on your wrist will “aww.” (Via)


Most men wear ties. Most men don’t wear ties well. Some men are still holding onto the tie they wore to church when they were twelve. And to those men, I tip my invisible hat, because that is an interesting feat. Not a feat I respect, but still a feat.

There are many options online and on-shelf for descent prices (H&M and Gap) but, unfortunately, these are not always the most functional since the stitching can be weak. On the other side of this logic, finer retailers are far too overpriced for a piece of fabric to be hung from your neck.

A great option is to essentially make your own tie. Check out this video from Bill Vechio which will show you a great DIY option. Take a regular tie (with an interesting material, design, color) from Goodwill or other thrift location and conform it to your stylistic persuasion (here's another how-to, in case you need it -- Design Mom: DIY Skinny Ties).
  • Skinny ties are trendy and rightfully so. The thick-ended tie has fallen out of favor for a couple reasons: added weight to the mid-section (where we didn’t need it), reminiscent of the disproportionate elements of the 70s, and always seemed to be paired with an ill-fitting suit.

A lot of things wrong with this one. (Via)
  • Keep the look clean and simple. I tend to stick with a solid color, but for those daring men among us, a simple pattern and unique fabric is interesting and eye-catching. But don’t get crazy.

  • Ties come in different lengths. Make sure when it is tied, the tip of the tie hits right above the belt-line.
    Looks like he’s trying to hide something. (Via)


Conventional thought held that socks should match the trouser. This is bananas. Why? No one sees people’s socks. And if they do, they’re looking too close and this brings up more questions than it answers.

There are tons of sites dedicated to interesting socks, so take your pick. And since they’re socks, they are completely fiscally-sound. Go sock crazy.

  • Unfortunately, neon socks are popular (yellow, pink). Just as neon shouldn’t be worn ever, they shouldn’t be worn on your feet, even if no one sees. These colors are noticeable; the smallest hint of the sock peeking from under the pant-cuff draws the eye. If his clothes are distracting, you know he’s done something wrong. Opt for neutral/darker tones.

    Unless it’s Easter or you’re wearing these ironically, stay away. (Via)

  • Incorporate stripes and patterns. Socks can be expressive.

  • The thicker the sock, the better. These last longer through washing and hold up better in ankle-to-shoe friction.
    Nope. These shouldn’t even be worn in church… Holey? .. Holy?  Eh? (Via)

Let your man be his own man, even when it comes to clothes. Give him the room to flex his stylish muscle. I trust that if he knows and understands how important his style is, he’ll have much more appreciation in yours.


  1. When buying for my husband I normally stick with the basics. I know exactly what type of socks and underwear he likes. Since those are the first things to get blow outs, while all the other clothes stay perfect. I stay clear of buying him ties, shirts, or pants after suggesting a certain tie and I recieved the look of horror from him.

    1. Good call! It seems like you are giving your husband plenty of freedom to make his own choices. My husband has one type of socks that he likes to wear. He's really particular about it, so if I see them on sale, I always snatch them up.

  2. The whole men accessories is looking good, but cuff links, I like very much.


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