Attention, self-described minimalists, frazzled new moms, or the style-challenged: Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! The punctuation to any wardrobe, accessories can make a less-than-stellar outfit work for any situation or event, and make a so-so outfit oh-so fabulous. From Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life.
Many of you ignore your jewelry. But the right jewelry acts like the right colors, lighting up your face as a photographer would on a professional shoot. There’s a reason most jewelry is made from shiny materials—gold, silver, diamonds and other crystals, beads, pearls. Our baubles are designed to catch and reflect light, drawing attention to the beautiful face, the slender wrist, the dainty fingers. The bling that instantly dresses up our T-shirt and jeans, accessories are what’s going to make that hectic new mom’s laid-back outfit look acceptable—so the extra few minutes she spends on them will be well worth her while. And if you absorb the lessons you’re about to learn in the chapter on color and wear the tones and stones that complement your complexion, you’ll be doing that much more for your overall palette.
Whether we’re talking about jewelry, scarves, belts, or handbags, the character of our accessories also has the ability to tweak the statements our clothing is making. Just as with anything else that you put on your body, the key question—always—is, What does this say? What do these accessories add to the overall picture? They may be small in size, but they can transform the character of our clothing in surprising ways. Take a sweet, perhaps overly girly floral-print dress. Wrap it in a rugged woven belt, and suddenly it looks edgy. The belt adds dimension, creating a complex and interesting juxtaposition via the addition of texture and color. (It also defines the waist, always a bonus.) Throw on a pair of edgy high-heeled booties and a couple of bangles, and you’ve got yourself an outfit. It’s all in the details, and these details can pack a punch—accessories are the theme that makes an outfit out of your separates, the statement that makes your suit stand out, the secret sauce whose spice makes an ensemble look like you.
Even a professional stylist won’t necessarily be able to predict how something will work without seeing it on, so make sure you carefully evaluate your choice of accessories in that mirror. A gold necklace with a red dress may sound like a great idea. But if the dress is patterned and the necklace is a double-stranded tangle of gold discs, we might be getting into busy territory; conversely, if you are wearing a dress that is all one color and texture, you may want a couple of sizable or textured accessories to break things up. And of course, never forget to check the whole picture and the way your accessories are interacting with your shoes, your outerwear, and so on—your choice of shoes will most definitely affect the way a piece of jewelry looks with a particular outfit.
Getting my clients comfortable with accessorizing is both one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding parts of my job. So many of them are afraid of it, but when they take to it—when they start to play—I see the lightbulb go on. At heart, accessorizing is a grown woman’s version of playing with her mother’s jewelry box. Accessorizing should be fun, and you will become successful at it when you can figure out how to take some pleasure in it. Think of it as the playful bit of dress-up you get to indulge in every morning, and you are on your way.