37 Comments.

brogue detailing

The art of personal style is something one has to refine through years of bad trends, experimentation, and just figuring out what does and doesn’t work.

The key to successfully setting yourself apart, once you’ve mastered the art of style in your own life, is to pay attention to the details.

Paying attention to detail will put you ten steps ahead of any other dude that’s even close to being on your level, know why? Most guys don’t put in that extra work or go the extra mile.

Need specifics?

Go to any major metropolitan city’s financial district, and look around at all the suits scurrying about. Some a bit more put together than others, sure. But then glance down and take a look at their shoes. Most guys wearing $500 suits are wearing $50 pieces of shit they got from Mervyn’s back when they were still in business. They’re almost always black, clunky, rubber soled, square-toe, unpolished, and probably fake leather.

They think the nice suit is good enough, and they neglect to finish off the outfit properly. Might as well have thrown on some sweats today.

Now, not everyone can afford $1500 Berluti or even $600 Alden, but there are definitely good looking options in the $100 to $200 range if you know what to look for. My issue is this: why are you going to take the time to put on a decent looking suit, but then lace up some ratty, low-quality shoes?

Details, gents. It’s all in the details.

It’s important to do your due diligence and find your own style first, but realize that once you have, you’ve only just begun. You have to tweak your style, subtract things and add others, to make it truly yours. Adding this personalized touch is another step in the right direction.

Here are some things you could try.

Have you ever paid attention to the way you knot your tie? The ways you cuff your jeans or lace your shoes? You have an opportunity to make each of those inconsequential methods your own. Instead of your standard dress shirt, have you considered a French cuff? They aren’t just for fancy dinner parties. You can find more casual versions and wear them with jeans.

silk knots

How about colorful silk knots to go with those French cuffs instead of metal cufflinks?

Desert Boots

Another thing I still like despite its spike in popularity over the last couple years is colorful laces with your grown man casual shoes, like desert boots. I try injecting contrasting color whenever I can; it just makes the outfit so much more interesting.

Montblanc Sunglasses

Have you ever seen a pair of black leather lace ups, only to realize upon closer inspection that they’re a subtle blue black? How about burgundy shades instead of your typical brown tortoise shell or black frames?

Keep it subtle

Your details don’t have to scream “Oh snap, look at me, I’m paying attention to details that are so obvious they’re becoming eye sores!” They can be subtle, just like the shoes and shades above. If you are going for eye-catching, let it complement the rest of what you’re wearing, and limit it so it doesn’t look like a box of crayolas vomited on you.

Women are very keen on these details as well. In fact, women seem to notice pretty much everything. Even if they aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s different about you compared to every other guy she saw today, it’s enough to grab her attention. And really, that’s all you need.

What details do you pay attention to most? Do you notice the little details at all?  Let’s hear it in the comments.

Just a reminder that EG will be launching a new segment of the site very very soon… be on the lookout!

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silk knots – this next, desert boots – the inked bloke

PUBLISHED March 17, 2011


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.



  • Shane

    A good post. Further to your comment on contrasting shoe laces, I have referred to “Ian’s Shoelace Site” a couple of times to lace my pumps in different ways. He has dozens of styles! It’s another way to include an interesting detail to an outfit.

  • Shane

    A good post. Further to your comment on contrasting shoe laces, I have referred to “Ian’s Shoelace Site” a couple of times to lace my pumps in different ways. He has dozens of styles! It’s another way to include an interesting detail to an outfit.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Interesting site, I never would’ve thought to lace them any other way than what I already know. thanks for sharing.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Interesting site, I never would’ve thought to lace them any other way than what I already know. thanks for sharing.

  • Shane

    A good post. Further to your comment on contrasting shoe laces, I have referred to “Ian’s Shoelace Site” a couple of times to lace my pumps in different ways. He has dozens of styles! It’s another way to include an interesting detail to an outfit.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnBFair John Fair

    I endorse this article whole-heartedly! Details make ALL of the difference. The one thing I would add (at least for a suit) is a pocket square. For several decades now pocket squares were only for the elite (or usually people who were educated enough to know what a pocket square was!), but lately they’re making a huge (and needed) comeback.

    Don’t walk out the door in your fancy suit, shoes, french cuffed shirt, etc and ignore one of the most visible details you include on a suit.

    And please, for all of us, use some subtle contrast and don’t match your pocket square directly to your tie.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      dude, pocket square! yes! how could I not mention this one. I kinda forget about it since I use them so much, and if I’m not wearing a sport coat i carry one in my pocket.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      dude, pocket square! yes! how could I not mention this one. I kinda forget about it since I use them so much, and if I’m not wearing a sport coat i carry one in my pocket.

  • Billy Kop

    I couldn’t agree more on the shoes thing. Personally, I would rather wear a cheap suit and bad ass shoes instead of cheap shoes and a bad ass suit. I cringe at some of the things I see every day in the financial district.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      haha, I too cringe. The thing is, you can make a cheap suit look good with tailoring and knowing how to buy your size. You just can’t make shitty shoes look decent, even if you tried.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      haha, I too cringe. The thing is, you can make a cheap suit look good with tailoring and knowing how to buy your size. You just can’t make shitty shoes look decent, even if you tried.

  • http://www.fisheyecorp.com/ Andreas Duess

    Love 99% of the post, but no, no, no and no again on the colourful shoe laces. Nobody over the age of 12 should do this, at least if you’re not wanting to look like a total, utter twerp who’s trying way too hard.

    Sorry. Just, you know, saying what I really feel. :)

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Wow Andreas, quite passionate about that, I see? haha. Do you think the laces on the desert boots in that picture were too much?

      • H.Cheng

        I think the key to colourful laces is to avoid overly loud colours and stick to muted and more subtle shades. Seems more adult-ish. Not to mention that other factors such as the shoe style must be considered. I don’t think the laces in that picture are overdoing it since the boots are clean and simple. It would be the opposite with a pair of fancily detailed brogues, especially if the soles are also a different colour.

        In any case, the safest way for any shoe, in my opinion, is to go with laces that are of a different colour yet match the tone of the shoes. For example, a pair of navy brogues with dark purple laces.

        • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

          I tend to not think that hard. I also really love strategically used color; I feel it really makes an outfit interesting.

          I loved the blue laces in the image, and I wouldn’t be opposed to other / brighter colors if I personally thought it looked good.

          Anyway it’s all based on preference. If people aren’t comfortable with crazy shoelaces (or crazy-colored anything, for that matter), then just don’t wear it. If one is feeling experimental, however, I say go for it. :)

  • Kristian

    yes on the silk knots! though i like cuff links a tad bit more.

    and yes you forgot the pocket square. maybe you can make it up to the humble square by doing an article on it? say where to start and the different ways to wear it?

  • Anonymous

    I think the first thing I notice when I get in the elevator at work are people’s shoes. Seem like the art of polishing has gone out of style. Even when they do make an effort to shine them they never dress the sole or heel. you are right that shoes do not have to be expensive but you should make sure that they can be re-soled or heeled. Everytime I polish mine I remember my father and what he always told me: “A man too lazy to shine the heels of his shoes is too lazy to wipe his a**”.

    My everyday cufflinks are a simple gold rectangle with last name initials. Belonged to my Dad and they have acquired a nice patina. Simple and understated. Have worn them with almost everyting.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I don’t know of many options at the $100 level that are worth getting resoled. If shoes at that price are really worn, I tend to just replace them. When you get into the $300-$500+ range is when it’s (obviously) more important to have this option. I’m thinking Alden, Allen Edmonds, etc. Great point about polishing though… again, it’s all in the details (or in this case, the details in the details).

      Cufflinks sound awesome. If I had an heirloom such as that I’d be wearing the crap outta them.

  • http://saxstation.com Neal | Sax Station

    Hey Barron,
    I like this post, that image of the brown shoes with blue laces was cool! Good ideas in here. Leo Baubauta just mentioned you, so I figured I would check out your site. Will be back later.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Neal, thanks for stopping by! Glad you like the laces idea; worth trying out.

      • http://twitter.com/TheInkedBloke Scott Fontaine

        Hey Barron,

        Thanks for the props on the desert boots! Glad you like them. I was on the fence about the laces at first when I got them at J.Crew, but after cleaning the boots up and putting the laces in, I was sold. Keep up the great work on the blog.

        • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

          Definitely, Scott! Hope you didn’t mind me using your photo. Such a great example, really love the look.

  • Demetrius

    The Verbal Purple has a great article on horn rimmed glasses–a definte indivualization from your standard wayfarers or aviators: http://theverbalpurple.wordpress.com/

  • Phil L.

    Hey, where are the desert boots from?  That is exactly the type of piar of boots I’ve been looking for for a while!

    • mcjorge

      Ditto…who makes those boots?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey guys, I believe they’re just Clarks, similar to the Beeswax model (5th from left): http://goo.gl/AX6Jh … I could be wrong though. You can ask the owner where he got them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheInkedBloke

  • Anonymous

    Classic cuff links are so easy to wear. Those little knots were fun until I noticed they required more time to slip into the cuffs than classic cuff links..
    And James Bond would not wear those. Neither would Gary Cooper, nor Gary Grant.. Or myself.. At least, not anymore

    Arkhangael

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Yeah, that’s one thing about the knots, they’re not as easy to put on at times, especially if the buttonholes aren’t that big.

      Still, I think they’re a good alternative for cufflinks; if they get lost, it’s not as big a deal. If I lose an expensive pair of cufflinks, it’s a big deal.

  • Shane Ellswood

    I have a small collection of cuff links, but silk knots are on my wish list just for the variety they will give

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Definitely. And at such a low price, you can get a bunch to add a pop of color whenever you don’t want to wear your standard metal cuff links.

      • Shane Ellswood

        Update: I now have several pairs of silk knots but find them very hard to fit through the button holes on my shirts.

        • http://effortlessgent.com/ Barron

          It takes a minute to get used to. Sometimes, I pre-cuff mine before putting the shirt on, at least on one side of the cuff, to make things easier when fastening.

  • Guest

    Hey Barron, where did you get the shoe laces? 

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      They’re not my boots, but I imagine you can get them at any dedicated shoe store. They tend to have a variety of laces in many colors and styles. Also, there’s always amazon: http://goo.gl/cBJ1d

  • beardedman

    You nailed it with the French Cuffs. For starters, they are way more comfortable than barrel cuffs. Especially if you have a nice 40mm+ wristwatch. And if you are going to wear French Cuffs, you should have double-sided cufflinks. Harder to find and more expensive, but a lot classier. Details. Kent Wang has double-sided cuff links quite reasonably.

  • Myers Tyson

    I’ve recently decided to change the buttons on my blazer to nice silver ones with old-style Eagle and Stars. I think that’s a nice and inexpensive detail.