Your jewelry box is overflowing with necklaces that you swore would jazz up your wardrobe, and your dresser is covered with bangles and 100 other bracelets you just had to have. You’re running out of space to put the rings that you impulsively keep buying even though you still have yet to wear one in public, and your vast collection of earrings is quickly becoming unmanageable. And let’s not forget about the dozens of headbands and scarves you have that would make even Blair Waldorf jealous.
Still, despite your accessories collection rivaling a scene straight out of “Sex and the City”, day after day you go with the basics: studs or pearls and a simple silver necklace or bracelet. Why risk looking like you just played a game of Pretty Pretty Princess when you know your go-to essentials always work?
Accessorizing is hard and can be pretty scary if you’re not used to adornments, but the right choices can make you feel like your closet doubled in size and can give any outfit an extra edge. We consulted the experts to give you the tips and tricks to accessorizing properly to turn a good ensemble into a great one.
1. Figure out if you’re going for delicate or statement. The first question to ask yourself when picking our your jewelry is, “What look am I going for?” If you’re looking to keep it classic, your simple and delicate jewelry will do. “If you have to go out and a little black dress is required, you can tap into your inner Audrey and wear something simple and classic like solitaire earrings, a nice tennis bracelet and a simple necklace with a clutch,” says Kimmie Smith, accessories expert, stylist, and editor-in-chief of lifestyle website Kitten Lounge.
Dig out the costume jewelry when you’re looking to get a bit more playful. These pieces are much more ornamental than your timeless and simple sterling silver and are a great way to update any outfit. Statement necklaces and cocktail rings are perfect examples of fun and loud costume pieces to wear.
2. Some situations call for fewer accessories. If you’re going into an interview for your dream job, while you can show off your personality with some accessories, try to keep it more on the subdued side. You don’t want your flashy earrings and ring to outshine your job qualifications. Other formal affairs, like weddings and bar mitzvahs, call for more refined jewelry as well. Pamela Pekerman, an accessories and style expert who has been featured on VH1’s “The Fabulous Life”, recommends limiting your loud accessories at formal gatherings to one statement piece. “A big ring, a great bracelet, or fabulous earrings is all you need,” she says. In terms of shoes and bags for formals, she recommends keeping your bag to a small clutch and using a bold shoe as your statement piece “only if the rest of you is subdued.”
3. Don’t over do it. While layering necklaces and piling on the bracelets and rings is glamorous and trendy, not everybody can pull off such a bold look. “If you are asking yourself if it’s too much, then it probably is,” says Brit Bardo, mark’s style expert who has worked with Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson. “Really, it’s what feels right for the outfit and the situation.” Susie Esterline, a wardrobe stylist from Chicago, recommends sticking to only three accessories at once. “Any combination—shoes, scarf, earrings; necklace, bracelet, clutch; hat, handbag, ring,” she says. “Coco Chanel was quoted saying that before you leave the house, you should look in the mirror and remove one accessory. I’m a big believer in this notion.” If you’re comfortable and confident with a lot of accessories, however, by all means, go for it!
Not everyone can pull off Nicole Richie’s overly-accessorized look.
4. Make sure your jewelry and outfit complement each other, not compete with each other. If your outfit makes a bold statement already with sequins or a jewel-encrusted top or dress, keep your jewelry simpler, says Bardo. It’s better to look classic and effortlessly chic with minimal accessories than to look like a little girl playing dress-up. With that said, a louder, statement necklace can dress up an otherwise mundane top like a solid color or a neutral, says Esterline, but make sure to keep your earrings to studs to avoid overdoing it. While a statement necklace may be too much for some patterns, prints, and colors, you can definitely still spruce up your look with other jewelry. “When wearing a fun, festive look, accessorize with bangles or a statement cuff, cocktail ring, and dangly earrings,” Esterline says.
Jessica Alba dresses up her plain top with a statement necklace, but goes without earrings to avoid overdoing it.
5. Buy jewelry that you like and know you’ll wear, but make sure you have some essentials that will go with almost any outfit. Pekerman recommends purchasing a few cuffs or unique bangles that usually spruce up anything. “Have a gold or rose gold option at your disposal and you’ll instantly glam up your ensemble,” she says. “It’s one of those fool-proof pieces.” Invest in a natural python cuff as well, she says. “The texture is luxurious and you can match it back to denim, grays, blacks, whites, and nearly anything really.” Make sure you also have a statement necklace on hand to add style to your simpler outfits.
Other accessories Pekerman recommends having are good black pumps and metallic flats because they’re accessories that you’ll always wear. When it comes to handbags, she says that everyone should own the core three: “The black clutch in a not too large shape that can take you from dinner to dancing at a club to a wedding; a medium-sized work bag with plenty of pockets that fits over the shoulder and is in a classic color like chocolate, black, crème, or deep navy; and a larger duffle or hobo that can be used for extra heavy work days or as a weekender,” she says.
6. Accessories can take an outfit from day to night instantly. Bringing a change of jewelry, shoes, and purse to work can take your business casual to glamorous eveningwear in a second. “If you have a basic black dress on with flats and minimal, simple jewelry at the office, you can then put on sexy high heels, bold statement jewelry and a little clutch for the night,” says Bardo. “It’s just about taking an outfit up a couple notches for evening.”
7. You can splurge on pieces you love, but less expensive jewelry is a frugal option that looks just as good. If you find a piece that you can see yourself wearing every day, it might be worth it to make the purchase. “If you do splurge, think about the fact that accessories have a longer life and can be worn multiple times, so when you break down the daily value, it’s not that expensive,” Smith says. “Buying an ornate accessory and wearing it everyday becomes a signature.”
For great statement jewelry on a budget, check out H&M or Forever 21 for key pieces to build on your wardrobe. Vintage stores are also great places to check out to get unique and special items. If you have time to spare, check out Etsy.com to find rare, handmade jewelry by smaller designers.
Accessories can often make or break an outfit, but with our tips, giving yourself a little extra edge should be no problem at all!
Kimmie Smith, accessories expert and stylist and editor-in-chief of Kitten Lounge
Pamela Pekerman, an accessories and style expert who has been featured on VH1’s “The Fabulous Life”
Brit Bardo, mark’s style expert who has worked with Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson
Susie Esterline, a wardrobe stylist from Chicago