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The Golden Rule of Men’s Accessories: Take One Thing Off

Men’s accessorizing is enjoying something of a renaissance right now. Pocket squares are second nature, shoelaces are getting colorful makeovers, and man bracelets are suddenly as acceptable as the wristwatches they complement. But when it comes to accessorizing, there’s a fine line between accenting an outfit and encumbering it. Here’s the one rule that will ensure your style embellishments never go too far.

Coco Chanel, frontierswoman of elegance, said it best: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This guiding principle has never been more relevant. Sometimes it’s good to exercise a bit of restraint.

“I think it’s a smart rule to practice for everyone,” says style blogger and GQ contributor Sean Hotchkiss. “It gets you thinking about simplicity, which to me is crucial for men. You see a lot of guys on the street, all done up and tricked out, and often think, ‘Man, if he just left the pocket square—or bracelet, or whatever—at home…”

The “take one thing off” rule will help orient your accessory planning around what actually complements a getup. If you’ve strung beads and a pendant necklace around your neck, maybe the dog tags aren’t necessary?

“An accessory goes a long way, so if you’ve got the shades, the watch, the bracelets, the necklace, it can be a bit much for the average guy,” says Hotchkiss, who chooses between wearing a watch and a beaded necklace—never both at the same time. “Try starting with just one accessory, and if you feel naked, try another tomorrow.”

A few other helpful guidelines to keep from over-accessorizing:
1. Limit accessories to one per body part.
2. A suit is a statement in itself so choose between a pocket or lapel accessory and keep jewelry to a single ring, bracelet, or watch.
3. For more casual outfits, not everyone can pull off Johnny Depp-level accessorizing (sometimes not even Johnny Depp), so commit to either neckwear or wristwear. There’s only so much personality you can add to an outfit before it looks like you’re overcompensating.

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