A safe style is a limited style. If you never step outside of your comfort zone, you will never grow. And there’s nothing more uncomfortable and fear-inducing than statement pieces.
Integrating statement pieces into everyday outfits seems like an unsurmountable mountain for many men, especially when juggling work dress codes and personal style preferences. Are statement pieces appropriate for work? How do you work them into your outfit without looking garish or feeling uncomfortable? Most importantly, what actually constitutes a statement piece?
No, it isn’t just crazy-patterned socks. Although those are a fun way to introduce personality into your style, they are merely the tip of the iceberg. A statement piece is any piece of menswear that gives context to the rest of your outfit. It becomes the focal point thanks to its color, pattern, or design, and adds that extra bit of style to your outfit.
A statement piece can be a blazer, pants, tie, shoes, coat, or a whole suit.
The Golden Rule of Statement Pieces
Don’t overdo it. It’s that simple.
Over-incorporating patterns and colors quickly degrades the outfit. Remember, especially in the professional environment, you’re aiming for a look that will turn heads, not induce undue shock. Aim to be an interesting sight in a sea of pleated drabness, not someone dressing with sole goal of ostentation (Lady Gaga comes to mind).
Keeping to a minimum the number of statement pieces you wear simultaneously is key. They should not fight each other for attention. The piece should add to the overall outfit, blending in while standing out.
Matching Is Key!
Statement pieces are not something you can just “throw on.” This is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when delving into this aspect of fashion, to avoid falling into the trap of buying a few brightly patterned sweaters and thinking they automatically justify the drab slacks, shoes, and shirt you wear with them.
Statement pieces should take as much deliberation and matching as the rest of your outfit. If you’re wearing a navy blue suit, a bright red statement piece is a no-go. If it were a dark red, like burgundy, it would fit. Combining bright colors with darker ones does not always work well. Need ideas for incorporating a yellow statement piece? Combine it with grey, blue, or if it’s a mustard yellow go for olive green.
If your statement piece is patterned, the safe bet is to remove all other patterns from the outfit. Match the pattern with solid colors; it’ll help it blend in. To mix patterns and statement pieces, go for darker or lighter patterns depending on the hue of the statement piece.
If the piece has unique features or cut, keep the rest of your outfit simple. Wearing a burgundy leather jacket with zippers? A simple blue suit and white dress shirt will suffice to go with. The same concept holds true even when you mentally change the colors of the pieces I’ve described. Maybe your statement leather jacket is a neutral caramel. In that case, the pants could be a variety of understated colors, like blue, olive, or burgundy.
Find Statement Pieces that Fit You
Let’s be honest here: not every piece is going to work for you. Your body shape, facial features, and personal style will decide what works.
The easiest way to figure out what works for you, if you’re not fashion-oriented, is to grab a friend who is and go shopping together. When shopping for a statement piece, keep your mind open, but critical. Are you going to wear it more than once a month? Does it work with your wardrobe? If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.
A mistake many men make is to get statement pieces in one category of menswear. You don’t need a dozen statement ties, socks, or vests. Grab a few of each: some shoes, blazers, and pants. Diversifying your wardrobe is vital to having a well-rounded style.
When to Wear Statement Pieces
Generally, you can wear a statement piece whenever you like. Whether it looks good and is appropriate for the occasion depends on the piece and your overall outfit. For example, statement pieces work great for dates or casual outings. Just add jeans, a simple shirt or sweater, and a statement piece (like a blazer or coat) that isn’t too showy.
Incorporate a hat into your normal suit outfit to give it that extra pop for the office. This works well if the hat is a different yet complimenting color.
Formal events are often the best places to experiment with statement pieces. In fact, I’d argue formalwear requires a statement piece. Whether it’s a watch, shoes, tie, or the whole suit, going with a standout piece is a surefire way to do just that: stand out.
Everyone’s so preoccupied with reaching the average level of acceptable formalwear, they have no time to be adventurous. Going above and beyond the average formalwear by wearing a double breasted suit jacket or non-black suit (burgundy, anyone?), will get you attention and respect. Plus, you will feel amazing.
Statement pieces are not required for every outfit. Adding them into your fashion routine, however, gives you a depth of style that most men lack. It sends a message that you know what you’re doing. It adds personality to the outfit.
Style is yours to own. It’s an avenue to express your tastes, temperament, and feelings. Style is a non-verbal cue to those around you. What it says is up to you.