Always necessary and often overlooked, accessories are a crucial part of almost every outfit. Whether you are trying to spice up your business casual look with a new watch or going all out with cuff links and pocket squares, accessories can really set you apart from the crowd.
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They can also ruin an otherwise handsome getup. As a shorter man, the most important thing to remember is this:
- Keep it simple
- Keep it small
By keeping it simple, I mean don't clutter your look up by wearing a watch, pocket square, hat, cuff links, suspenders, etc. Pick one or two nice accessories, like a scarf and hat. Or a watch and sunglasses. The point is, be intentional about what you want people to notice.
A good rule of thumb is to wear accessories high up on the body to draw people's gaze upward to your face.
When it comes to specific accessories, there is some easy guidance for men of modest height:
You should own a few different belts. I like to have these basic options:
- Glossy black leather dress belt (for formal occasions and dark suits)
- Matte black belt (hole-less “slide belts” like this are cool)
- Dressy brown leather belt (you can go budget or high end for these)
- Casual brown belt (Bonobos has some great saddle leather and bull ring belts)
- Super casual belt (think colorful canvas or suede)
When buying any of these belts, try to find ones that aren't too thick. Slim belts will help elongate your figure. Also, avoid big, flashy belt buckles. Unless you live in Texas. In that case, try to find a big, flashy belt buckle.
Also, make sure to check the size of the belt before buying. Belts are just like pants, and the best belts for short men are ones that fit. It looks really tacky to have several inches of belt hanging off your pants. If there is some excess, simply tuck it into the first look after the buckle.
When choosing a pair of sunglasses, the shape of your face really plays a much more important role than your height. The idea is to find glasses that compliment your face. So, for example, if you have a long and narrow face, you don't want to wear thin, rectangular sunglasses. These will only make your face look longer and more narrow.
On the other hand, if your face is short and round, narrow glasses will do the trick. Click here for a great article about sunglasses and face shape.
As with belts, shorter guys should keep their watches simple and slim. Go with a small(er) watch face and thin band. If you only buy one watch, you can't go wrong with a dark leather band and simple, white analog face.
If you want to expand on your collection, I recommend a silver sports watch. Just don't overdo it. Watches can get way to big and fancy, and they will make your hand and wrist look small.
Scarves aren't just for women. If you don't believe me, read this. As a 5'6″ man, I like to tie a scarf one of two ways:
1. The Overhand Knot (a.k.a. “The Ascot”)
2. The Once Round
Avoid the classic “drape” (this is where you just drape the scarf around your neck) as the ends will hang down around your knees.
Hats are tough. I think most guys are afraid of wearing a hat and tend to avoid it altogether. There are a ton of options, and, unless you're in middle school, the baseball cap isn't really acceptable in most situations these days.
My advice is to tread carefully here. Definitely don't wear a hat to look taller. And never wear it cover up your hair because you haven't showered, are going bald, had a bad haircut, etc.
You should only wear a hat if it's appropriate for the situation (i.e., it's cold outside or you're at a horse race) or if you love the way you look with it on.
Like sunglasses, picking out the right hat has more to do with the shape of your face, not your height. This GQ slideshow is a great place to get some ideas.
Generally, I'd say stay away from jewelry. Obvious exceptions include:
- Wedding bands
- Superbowl rings
- House arrest ankle bracelets
- Crucifix necklaces (for all you Catholics out there)
However, as a guy who enjoys travelling the world, I'm okay with wearing a bracelet that carries a story with it. For example, if you bargained hard for a handmade bracelet in a small Laotian street market, you should wear it proudly.
It's a conversation starter and a token of your “culturedness”. Just don't go overboard and cover half your forearm with trinkets from each place you've visited since you were four years old.
As I mentioned above, I believe men should only wear wedding bands…and Superbowl rings. No class rings, please. They look ridiculous on most guys, especially those of us with small hands.
These seem to have made a huge comeback lately (I blame Mad Men). They are an easy, quick and affordable way to add a dash of style and flair to your suit. As with all accessories for short men, be careful with pocket squares. Keep it simple and understated, not big and flashy.
Summing It Up
You probably noticed that the same basic rules apply to all accessories – keep it minimal. That said, don't be afraid to experiment with different colors, patterns and materials.
When worn thoughtfully, accessories can be a great way for men of modest height to add some spice to their style.
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