The vast majority of my style consult clients have great clothes and fabulous ideas for outfit assembly. The vast majority of my style consult clients also struggle with jewelry and accessories. I’ve had so many of them say, “Oh, I don’t really wear jewelry. I don’t even own any!” Only to haul out unworn and forgotten stashes of necklaces, bangles, and earrings. Others say, “I love scarves on other people, but just can’t figure them out for me.” A few scarf tie tutorials later, and they’re back in the game. I spend a lot of time illustrating how jewelry and accessories make outfits feel more complete, finished, and polished. And then I try to reinforce the importance of incorporating them into daily dressing rituals.
But if you’ve never been big into jewels and accessories, how do you begin working them into your outfits? How can you train yourself to accessorize?
Start with jewelry. Even if you don’t think you have any, you probably do. Check your stores and see what you can find. Even a simple chain necklace or pair of hoop earrings can change the feeling of an outfit. Really! If you’ve worn the same studs every day for years or never bother with bracelets, set a schedule: Incorporate jewelry into your outfits on Tuesdays and Thursdays to start. If your wrists are bare, try to slip on a bracelet or watch. If you’ve got an open neckline, try a necklace. Keep it up for a few weeks. Once you’re in the habit, add a few more days or switch to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Soon, your eye will begin to see jewelry-shaped spaces in your outfits and long to fill them!
In my experience, most women own scarves. They see them worn by others, love how they look, buy ‘em, get ‘em home, and realize they have no idea how to deploy them in actual outfits. Does this describe you? Well, sadly, the only way to give those scarves some wearable love is to suss out which ties work for you. And that means some research and experimentation. Let’s research first:
- Pretzel Knot Scarf Tying Tutorial
- Scarf Styling Secrets
- Twisted Rope Scarf Tying Tutorial
- Styling Silk Scarves
- How to Wear Smaller Scarves
- Great roundup of scarf tying resources from the now-defunct blog Academichic
- 25 Scarf Ties in 4.5 Minutes (from Wendy’s Lookbook)
- Une Femme’s series on scarves and ties
Cruise through some of those links and see what strikes your fancy. What styles and sizes of scarves do you own and love? Which techniques are, therefore, relevant? Now the tough part: You’ve got to set aside a bit of time to try them out. Throw on jeans and a black shirt, stand in front of the mirror, and see what works in practice. Try to identify at least three scarf ties that make sense, work with your collection, and complement your personal style. Once you’ve got those under your belt, you’ll find yourself more inclined to scarf it up. Because you’ll know how.
I’ve got an entire post on breaking into belting, and highly recommend it if you’re just getting started. The big takeaway? You likely need to start by figuring out which PLACEMENT works for your figure, then which WIDTH of belt you like best. So start with a scarf: Put on a fairly loose dress or tunic, and try belting it with a scarf at various spots on your bod. Hips, wearing waist, natural waist, and close your bust like an empire waistline. See what looks best. Then try making the scarf wide like an obi belt and see how that looks. Fold it so it’s the width of a pants belt. Roll it tight as you can so it’s skinny. See which width is most flattering. You may find that multiple combinations look good – skinny at your natural waist, wide up by your bust, medium at your wearing waist. But this little exercise will get you on the right track. How should you implement belts?
Hosiery season is coming to an end for many of us, but it still bears addressing. In my opinion, the three easiest ways to incorporate tights into outfits are as follows: If you’re doing separates, match your top and tights colors to create continuity. And/or make sure the color of your tights is repeated elsewhere in your outfit, be it in a belt, scarf, or piece of jewelry or within the pattern of a garment. And/or let tights make a stand-alone statement of their own by making them the lone colorful or patterned element in an ensemble. (More tights-deploying advice here and here.) Just having a few tights templates can make incorporating them into regular wear seem less daunting.
There are brooches and hats and loads of other accessories to be considered, but I view these as the Big Four. They’re accessories that stymie the majority of women, but can be fun and beneficial to deploy. Hope these tips have been helpful! I’d love to hear yours, too: How would you recommend that someone who has avoided jewelry and accessories begin to incorporate them into regular wear?