What are your recommendations on a good balance of jewelry and accessories? How many “pops” should an outfit have? What is too much and what is too little?
Well, m’dears, THIS is an intensely personal matter. Accessorization and jewelry choices can define our style even more than clothing and shoe choices, in many cases. And how you create balance within an outfit will vary depending on your personal taste, your body shape and bone structure, the genre and overall look of the outfit, and the actual accessories you have on hand. All style rules are subject to interpretation and discard, but when it comes to accessories I’m loathe to even say that there are any loose guidelines that will apply across the board.
However! If you’re interested in how I create balance within my own outfits, and the guidelines that I use when accessorizing, those I can certainly share. And then I’d love it if you’d chime in with your own personal rules for creating jewelry and accessory balance within an ensemble!
When I put this outfit together, I pulled out a magenta belt that went beautifully with my dress. But the belt had about eight giant diamond-shaped rhinestones right in the front, and it fought with my sparkly brooch. The lavender belt is in a totally different family than the brooch and created a more harmonious pairing.
ROUGH GUIDELINE: If you divide your body up into quadrants – feet to knees, knees to waist, waist to shoulders, and shoulders to head – avoid putting more than one large, shiny, or extremely distinctive accessory in each quadrant.
ROUGH GUIDELINE: It’s perfectly fine to make a single accessory the star of an outfit. Sometimes less really is more. This goes for any single statement-y piece including necklaces, scarves, shoes, hats, even bracelets and earrings.
ROUGH GUIDELINE: Patterned clothing needs balance. Adding lots of shiny, clanky, or complex jewelry and accessories to the mix will just create a cacophonous hodgepodge. Consider pattern to be an accessory itself, and chose pieces that will complement instead of fight with a busy print.
NEVER KILLED ANYONE
ROUGH GUIDELINE: Sure, it’s fun to take advantage of this brave new world where your belt and shoes and handbag aren’t supposed to be in the same color family … but picking up a color in two or more accessories can create a beautifully pulled-together look.
I’ve got on WAY more here than I generally wear. Two wood bangles, a wood necklace, and a metal-embellished leather belt. There are probably some small hoop earrings under all that hair, too. But the pieces work fantastically together because they’re all helping to create a safari-esque look.
ROUGH GUIDELINE: Unless you’re purposely aiming for a hodgepodge look, try to make sure your accessories are in the same family. Punky with punky, delicate with delicate, geometric with geometric. This goes for shoes, scarves, jewelry, belts … the works.
To me, any large expanse of exposed Sal screams for some jewelry. I seldom wear short sleeves without piling on a bracelet or two. Deep v necklines always get a big honkin’ necklace. When my hair is pulled back, I make sure to wear eye-catching earrings … even if they’re small. With this dress, the ruffle detailing precludes a necklace, but my bare arms were begging for some bangles.
ROUGH GUIDELINE: Even if it’s not exposed skin, look for the quiet spaces in your outfit and see which accessories will fill it. Use your judgment and avoid filling ALL those quiet spaces, but see if you can’t identify your outfit dead zones and liven them up.
OK, I built this particular outfit around the scarf. But I often find that when my belts and jewelry are falling flat, the perfect solution is a scarf. Scarves add depth and dimension to your outfits in ways that other accessories simply cannot.
- I loathe jewelry sets. I will wear earrings, a necklace, and a set of bracelets that are all the same brushed silver tone, or pearl studs a pearl necklace and a pile of pearl bracelets … but never earrings, necklace, and bracelets that are all made from the same materials and shapes and sold as a set.
- If you’ve got lots of hair (like me) embrace big earrings. What’s the point of wearing earrings at all if no one can see ’em?
- Experiment with belts and see if they work for you. If they do, make the belt your first possible accessory. Since belts cut you in half, they affect your quadrants and decisions about any further accessorization.
- I consider a pile of layered necklaces to be a single accessory. But it’s a statement-y enough accessory to stand alone.
Just to reiterate, these are MY RULES. And while I love insanely huge statement necklaces and outrageous shoes, I tend to let those items stand alone within my outfits … which, I believe, makes me a pretty tame accessorizer. If you’re into mixing it up a bit more, extravagant looks, and mixed genres, more power to ya! In fact, regardless of your tastes and preferences, tell us all about your personal rules for creating accessory balance in the comments, won’t you?
Top image courtesy iluvrhinestones.