A Basic Guide to Accessories

You’re never full dressed without… a smile, but really without accessories!

Accessories can make the blandest of outfits look amazing. But, it is all too easy to get your hats jewelry, purses, shoes, and bags completely wrong, or just be unsure what to wear and how to wear it. To help avoid any style disasters – and make sure you accessorize the right way – I’ve put together this basic guide to accessories. Read on to find out more!

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First, let’s get into the basics of accessorizing. There’s a lot to choose from, and we all love going to the local accessories store to find new pieces, but make sure you stick to keeping things simple. While your jewelry, bangles, and other little bits and bobs can lift your outfit, they are also capable of overpowering it completely. The simple truth is that too much of anything isn’t good for you in life, and it’s also the golden rule of accessorizing. It’s OK to pile it on in one particular area on occasion – a wrist full of bangles, for example – but you wouldn’t want to mix things up with five or six necklaces, a hat, bandana, sunglasses and basically the entire contents of your jewelry box. Keep it simple, complement your style, and don’t overdo it.

Your body shape

The next step is to be honest, and understand your body shape. If you have a large chest, for example, then dangly, low-hanging necklaces are going to draw attention to them – fine if that’s what you are looking for, but otherwise, it’s a no-go. Similarly, if you are of small, petite stature and want to create an illusion of being taller, if your handbag is enormous, it’s going to have the opposite effect. It’s the same situation if you want to wear some fancy neck gear. A choker or chunky, tight necklace can look incredible if you have a long, slim neck. But if your throat area is short and full, it’s going to have an adverse impact. What you are looking for are proportion and balance. So, tall women or those with long torsos should use wide belts, while if you have a short torso or lack inches in height, a thin belt is going to look best for your figure.


Time appropriate

As obvious as it might be to say, you should always accessorize in a suitable way for the setting you are in. The typical example is the work office – you won’t want to receive an invitation to speak to your line manager because you are wearing your chunkiest, dangliest earrings. When you are at work, you can still accessorize, of course, but you still need to be professional. Consider the noise you might be making, too. A trip to the theater or an orchestral concert might seem like the perfect place for showing off your collection of bangles, but other people will disagree when every time you move your arm you sound like a metalwork factory. Finally, keep all your most playful jewelry and accessories for big nights out and special occasions – the school drop or trip to the grocery store are probably not the best locations for glamor and glitz, and will only result in drawing unwanted attention. bahai-temple-ootd5

Your head and face

As we discussed above, accessories are for complementing an overall look. And when it comes to your head and face, it’s pretty easy to go overboard and end up hiding yourself away. For example, if you wear a wide brimmed hat and a huge pair of sunglasses, it’s going to make you look like you are trying to hide away. If you do want those big, chunky sunnies, you will be far better off wearing something smaller on your head – a little hat, cap, or even a headscarf will all be better than a big headpiece. Again, it’s a simple question of balance.



We wear earrings for an excellent reason – other people notice them, and they can offset an outfit superbly. However, it’s important to make sure you are using your earrings to complement your look, and frame your face properly. Getting your earrings wrong can be a major distraction – and not in a good way. So, when it comes to statement earrings, make sure you are choosing a pair that either matches or contrasts your outfit color, and also ensure that the length and shape coordinate nicely with your face. If you like wearing dangly earrings, don’t forget about that all-important balance. You’ll need to keep your hair sleek and not overly big – and if you want to go wild with your hair, balance it out with small, simple earrings. Finally, don’t forget about makeup. Your ear jewelry needs to match or perfectly contrast with the tone of your makeup. And if you decide to go with brash, bright colors for your earrings, it’s probably best to go with a minimal makeup look.


Necklaces and necklines

OK, so let’s move down to the neck area. Again, if you are choosing bold, statement pieces, be careful that they aren’t overpowering your outfit. Strapless, scoop-necked, or off the shoulder tops and dresses are usually ideal for making statement necklaces sing, while anything with a collar, halter neck, or any detailing high up on the dress should be avoided. Instead, choose less bold pieces – or go completely necklace-free. Long, dangly jewelry will look best when you are wearing one color, too, and neutral tones such as black, white, and nude can all help you draw attention to your favorite necklace.


Hands and rings

Other than ‘keep it simple,’ there are no hard or fast rules about rings, but there is one important thing to remember. The more striking and bold your rings are, the more people are likely to check out your hands. If you are a nail biter or haven’t had a manicure since your prom night, you have to be aware that you will draw attention to your hands with a huge statement ring. Other than that, however, wearing rings that can offset your outfit perfectly is simple. Just make sure that your ring color doesn’t clash with your nail polish, and keep your nail art down to a minimum when wearing big statement pieces. Also, if you are wearing a big ring, it’s usually best when it is alone – wearing others will drown out the impact.


Arms, bracelets, and bangles

There are plenty of arm accessories out there, and the style you choose is up to you, whether it’s cuff bracelet adorned with jewels or a simple leather wrist strap. And, as we mentioned above, it’s possible to wear a lot of bracelets and bangles and stack them up – but try to stick to one arm only. As a rule, avoid wearing any more than seven or eight, although this figure might change depending on the thickness and width of your bangles. It’s important to be color coordinated, of course, as any clashes will be easy to spot and make you look a little ‘off. As a rule, arm accessories are super important during the hot, summer months, but less so during winter. During the summer we tend to wear less and dress much simpler, so it’s bangles and bracelets that can help us achieve a great look.



Belts are a fantastic tool that can make a dull and drab outfit look amazing. There’s a huge range of styles, too, from high-waist options through to low-waist belts – but be careful it suits your body shape, as we mentioned before. Low-waist belts have a tendency to lengthen your torso, while the high-waist versions do the opposite. Unless you want to draw attention to your lack of height or make yourself look even taller than you are, it’s best to avoid taking the wrong option. Ultimately, though, every woman should have a good range of belts in their wardrobe. You can instantly glam up a casual outfit, and a change of color can make a standard dress suitable for an upmarket meal or event.


Shoes and bags

Is there a more important accessory than the shoe or the hand bag? If so, we would love to see it. Shoes and bags are something we all have to factor in when we are choosing our look, and the good news is there is no need to splurge a small fortune on either. Plenty of budget brands out there will offer you a stylish and credible look for any occasion, and there are always end-of-season sales to scour for a bargain. As for the rules of the game, there’s a lot of flexibility. Sure, the more conservative or ultra-classic dressers will almost always try to match their bag and shoe color, but there is no need to be quite so contrived these days. Similar textures and colors are just as acceptable, and if you have a multicolored bag – leopard print, for example – you can pick a single color and find shoes that match. Don’t mix textures with patterns, however, and if your bag is exceptionally bright, be wary that wearing matching shoes can make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.



OK, so there you have it – some top tips on how to wear accessories properly. Let me know your opinions in the comments section below!

Katy Rose
Filed In: Fashion

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