Help with rigging - multiple objects

So, I’ve been working on this fighter pilot character, building it piece by piece. At the moment it has several objects with multiresolution modifiers - head, arms, shoes, clothes - which I can easily join and then weight-paint together after I parent to the armature.
However, I also got a bunch of smaller elements that don’t have a multires mod. Zippers - both the teeth and the slider; laces, eyelets, buttons, buckles - all sorts of small metal pieces, in short.
The character isn’t for realtime and I won’t need to export it, I intend to pose it and possibly at some point animate. But I have little experience in non-realtime character animation, and even that wasn’t in Blender.
So, what I want to know is, what’s the, how to put it, common way of dealing with this type of element? do people join everything, accepting the added unnecessary polys, so it’s possible to paint the weights on the entire character without worrying that these elements are not going to move along with the fabric? or is there some way of keeping those elements as separate meshes but still stitch them to their location on the flight suit somehow? or transfer paint weights from one object to another based on vertex proximity?

‘all sorts of small metal pieces’: you can parent them to vertex of the animated mesh.
If you parent them to 3 vertices, they will follow the animated mesh correctly.

’ Vertex Parent from Edit Mode
In Object Mode , select the child/children and then the parent object. Tab into Edit Mode and on the parent object select either one vertex that defines a single point, or select three vertices that define an area (the three vertices do not have to form a complete face; they can be any three vertices of the parent object), and then press Ctrl-P and confirm.

At this point, if a single vertex was selected, a relationship/parenting line will be drawn from the vertex to the child/children. If three vertices were selected then a relationship/parenting line is drawn from the averaged center of the three points (of the parent object) to the child/children. Now, as the parent mesh deforms and the chosen parent vertex/vertices move, the child/children will move as well.’

Teeth: parent to head-bone

Thank you! exactly what I needed!