Lovely reader Nique asked:
I would love it if you would do a post on how to incorporate fine jewelry into an outfit. I am very fortunate to have a dad and husband who like to give me gifts of jewelry, but I am finding that my accessory choices have been big and bold lately, and the fine pieces seem almost too delicate to make a statement. I love these pieces, so I don’t want to get rid of them, and I hate that they are sitting in my jewelry box languishing away, but I don’t really know what to do with them.
This is a toughie for me, too, as I gravitate toward large, bold pieces for everyday wear. And whenever I wear my fine pieces I am constantly afraid of breaking or losing them. So I’ll offer a few suggestions and hope they’re helpful!
Layer multiple pieces
Fine necklaces can work in layered jewelry mixes like this. It’s not a look that appeals to everyone, and it doesn’t have the same impact or proportions as a single, statement-y piece. But it does allow you to work gorgeous, delicate pieces into an edgy, contemporary look. Fine necklaces are generally fairly short, and should be closest to your neck. Then add a slightly longer piece, and another yet longer one. (I generally prefer layered looks with at least three items.) If you mix metals, make sure it looks intentional, and if you’re incorporating colored gems make sure they either match or “go.” Genuine pearls also work well in layered mixes, a la Tilda in “Burn After Reading.”
Pairing combat boots with a sundress is a fairly bold, fun, visible way to create a sartorial juxtaposition. Pairing gem studs or a gorgeous sapphire ring with your biker jacket may seem ridiculously subtle by comparison, but it CAN work. Especially if you do some of the aforementioned layering. If, like me, you gravitate toward bold jewelry because you gravitate toward bold looks overall, try using a piece or two of fine jewelry to create interesting pairings. A tennis bracelet with a scrunched-sleeve crewneck sweater, boyfriend jeans, and pumps. Two delicate necklaces in the deep v of a wildly patterned sundress. Chandelier earrings with a graphic tee, denim jacket, and leather skirt.
Tweak your outfit
What do I do with items I love but can’t seem to work them into everyday wear? I tweak my clothing choices. It’s a last resort, but it works. Ladylike, romantic, delicate, or even old-fashioned looks can be crafted around fine jewelry, and if your pieces are going unworn it might be fun to dedicate one day per week to building outfits around them. If you’re going to go this route, make sure to include a few nods to your typical style: Chunky shoes, bold colors, whatever your signature may be. But build the outfit with the jewelry in mind: Pick a neckline that really lets a necklace shine, pull your hair back to show off those earrings, cuff your sleeves to keep bracelets visible. Since fine jewelry is often received as gifts – definitely the case for Nique – it can feel very emotionally rewarding to dress around it.
Mixing fine and costume jewelry can be challenging, as the contrasting levels of quality may appear obvious. So proceed with caution should you choose to mix, and try to choose mixes that either appear to have similar quality levels, or have very clearly differentiated quality levels. In other words, be intentional. Bee wears giant piles of necklaces and jewelry nearly every day, and mixes high and low constantly, so she might be a good source of inspiration.
Image courtesy John Sanchez Photography.