Accessorization is challenging. I know it is. And adding yet another consideration to the outfit-construction pile might make you want to say, “Forget it. I shall wear the same stud earrings until they become one with my lobes, refuse to swap out my necklace, and ignore the existence of belts and scarves.” But I’m hoping this particular discussion will be more intuitively helpful than irritatingly overwhelming.
So we’ve talked about belting, and the practice of determining which belt width will work for your height, figure, and torso length. (Links below.) But accessory scale goes beyond belts, and understanding it will help your outfit accents work harmoniously with your overall look.
There are two ways in which scale affects accessory balance:
Within an outfit
In an ideal world, the sizes and shapes of your accessories will mirror the sizes and shapes of your garments and shoes. If you’re wearing bright colors in broad swaths, big chunky shoes, or other bold elements, adding tiny, delicate jewelry might feel wrong. And, on the flip side, if you’re doing a floaty slip dress and heels, gobs of heavy metal jewelry and a huge belt might not work. There is always juxtaposition to be considered, and sometimes throwing huge accessories into a delicate mix works beautifully. But generally speaking, the scale of your accessories should complement the overall feel and look of your outfit.
Relating to your figure
Over the summer I worked with a client who is nearly six feet tall. Almost everything in her jewelry box was lightweight, light-colored, and delicate. Her only scarves were tiny silk squares, and her belts were all skinny. When I touched base with her after our consult, I brought up the concept of accessory scale. A woman of her stature could quite easily wear large, chunky jewelry, big belts, and gigantic scarves and have it work harmoniously with her figure and proportions. In fact, some of her truly tiny pieces were virtually invisible in the context of an entire outfit. I’ve also worked with clients who are extremely petite but drawn to wide belts and chunky bangles, and I have the same conversation but in reverse. Small women can look engulfed by giant accessories, while the more lightweight and delicate stuff looks absolutely smashing on them.
If you’re somewhere in the middle like me, many of your decisions will be more outfit-based than figure-based but you may find that some of your accessories just feel too big or small once you’ve examined them more closely.
And, of course, this is NOT meant to be interpreted as a hard-and-fast rule! None of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent. In this case, that means that if you’re petite and love enormous jewelry, enjoy it. If you’re tall or plus-sized and wear nothing but skinny belts and delicate chains, that is absolutely your prerogative. And everyone should feel free to mix things up on an outfit-by-outfit basis. But if you’ve noticed that the jewelry and accessories you’re choosing aren’t quite working within the context of your outfits, consider scale. It might be the factor that’s throwing off your looks.